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Sometimes you have to go on a long journey to find the treasure hidden within yourself

KUL Heschel Center / 29.07.2023
Photo credit_ KUL Heschel Center
Photo credit_ KUL Heschel Center

Sometimes we have to go on a long journey to discover that our true treasure has been right next to us all that time. Finding it, however, requires commitment. For believers – Jews and Christians – the treasure we seek has been hidden in our hearts.


This treasure is closeness with God, writes Dr. Faydra Shapiro, director of the Israel Center for Jewish-Christian Relations, in a commentary for the Heschel Center of the Catholic University of Lublin, reflecting on the Sunday Gospel, July 30.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear Jesus’ parable, in which the kingdom of heaven is compared to a treasure buried in a field. The man who finds it hides it again, and then happily sells everything he has in order to buy that field and possess the treasure therein. Referring to the parable of Jesus, Dr. Faydra Shapiro evokes a Hasidic story of Moshe, who in search of treasure went to a faraway place to finally find it under his home.

Moshe finds out that what he was looking for was not as complicated as he expected,” emphasizes the director of the Israel Center for Jewish-Christian Relations. “Sometimes, perhaps like the prodigal son, we have to travel far away to discover that our true treasure has been waiting for us all that time at home,” she adds.

Dr. Shapiro also quotes an important passage from Deuteronomy that will soon be read in synagogues: „Polecenie to bowiem, które ja ci dzisiaj daję, nie przekracza twych możliwości i nie jest poza twoim zasięgiem. (…) Słowo to bowiem jest bardzo blisko ciebie: w twych ustach i w twoim sercu, byś je mógł wypełnić. (Deut 30, 11.14)”.

The most precious thing is very close. However, you need to be committed in order to discover this most precious treasure within yourself, which is the closeness with God.

 

We publish the text of the Jewish commentary on the Gospel of the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time:

This week’s Gospel reading includes the famous parable that likens the kingdom of heaven to a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds, hides again, and then joyfully sells all that he has, to buy that field and possess that treasure.

The parable makes me think of a famous Hassidic story, told a few different ways and attributed to different sources. But it goes generally like this:

Once a tailor in a little village had a very powerful dream. He dreamt that a valuable treasure was buried under a bridge in a city far away from him. So Moshe – let’s call him Moshe – journeys to that city and walks around and around the bridge thinking about how to tackle digging up this treasure, when someone notices and demands to know what he’s doing.

The tailor thought about it, and told his secret to the man. Who promptly bursts into laughter. ‘You crazy dreamer! I also dreamed that a valuable treasure lay buried under the house of Moshe the tailor, but am I going to set off on a journey there?!’

At which point Moshe immediately took his wagon, hitched his horses and hurried back home, to dig in his own backyard. There he discovered the treasure.

At the sight of it, Moshe declared:
“Now this mystery has been revealed to me. The treasure had always lain buried in my house, but I had to leave my town and wander far away in order to discover it in my own house.”

Now obviously there’s no real connection between the parable and this story. But I think the two work well together in helping us to find something meaningful.

Moshe learns that what he seeks wasn’t as complicated as anticipated. Sometimes, perhaps like the prodigal son, we have to travel far to find that our real treasure was waiting for us at home all the time.

We just started reading the book of Deuteronomy in synagogues, and in a few weeks we will arrive at this powerful reminder in chapter 30, 11-14:

This commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’  Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’  No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.

All of this is to say that for believers – Jewish and Christian – the treasure that is nearness with God is one that demands much. As we see in the parable, it requires commitment and investment. That said, the treasure that we seek is neither as far away, nor as demanding, as we might imagine: it is as close as our own homes, our own mouths, our own hearts.

 

About the author

Dr. Faydra Shapiro is a specialist in contemporary Jewish-Christian relations and is the Director of the Israel Center for Jewish-Christian Relations. She received the National Jewish Book Award for her first publication (2006). Her most recent book, together with Gavin d’Costa is Contemporary Catholic Approaches to the People, Land and State of Israel. Dr. Shapiro is also a Senior Fellow at the Philos Project https://philosproject.org  and a Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Religions at Tel Hai College in Israel https://english.telhai.ac.il.

 

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2024-05-28 23:15:13