That’s what Christ told someone who asked him to settle the inheritance issue that person had with his brother. (cfr. Lk 12,13-21) A very common phenomenon these days, sad to say. Siblings can go into bitter quarrels and complicated litigations just because of the inheritance question.
Christ responded by saying that he was not appointed to be the judge or arbitrator of such matters. And he proceeded by giving the crowd a warning that they should be guarded against the danger of greed. “Though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions,” he said.
He then told a story that concluded with the lesson that what matters most is that we should be rich in the things of God, rather than in the things of the world that in the end will not last forever.
Since we are in the middle of the world, immersed in our temporal and earthly affairs, we should see to it that we do not lose sight of what is important and essential in our life. The things of this world are at best only means and instruments for us to grow in our love for God and for others. We should be wary of the constant danger of our heart being trapped by the things of this world, displacing God from our heart.
To be rich in what matters to God is not so much a matter of how much wealth and possessions we have as it is of how much love we have for God which is always translated in our love for the others, expressed in deeds and not just in intentions.
We may be rich or poor in our worldly standards, but what should be pursued with extreme care and seriousness is that our heart gets filled with love for God and love for the others.
Yes, one can be rich materially—he can be a millionaire or a billionaire—but he should see to it that he fits the category of what one of the beatitudes regarded as “poor in spirit” because in spite of or even because of his great wealth, his heart is fully for God and for the others.
This, of course, will require tremendous struggle and constant purification and rectification of our intentions and ways, given the fact that we are always prone to get attached to the things of this world and to the ways of greed, envy and the like.
We have to continually check ourselves especially these days when we are bombarded with many tantalizing and intoxicating things that can capture our heart and remove God from it. It always pays to lead a very simple and austere life in spite of the great wealth that we may have.
And to be clear about this also: that the more wealth we have, the greater also would be our responsibility to show our love for God and others with deeds. The scope and range of that love should grow exponentially, so to speak.
We should be wary of our tendency to get complacent in this duty of living true Christian poverty and detachment. We really have to fight tooth and nail against this tendency because the likelihood for us to fall for this sweet poison of the new things today is high.
At the end of the day, we should be able to say that with our struggles and rectitude of intention, we are truly getting rich in matters to God!*