For us priests, one of the things people bring to us for prayers and consultation are matters about inheritance. Whether the inheritance is huge or just enough, it can be complicated, absurd, and even bloody. You cannot imagine what sibling can do to sibling, parent to their child, and child to their parents.
Once I blessed a property and noticed a dilapidated building beside it. It was located in a very vibrant community and commercially, that building should have been earning well. The story goes that about 30 years ago, the son of the building owners was able to get hold of the title without his parents’ knowledge or consent, and transferred ownership under his name. When the parents found out, because of anger, frustration, and sadness, they put a curse on the building: “Due to your dishonest actions, you will never earn from that building.” True enough, throughout the thirty years, tenants just came and went without long-term commitments.
While there are laws that deal with estate and inheritance, Jesus tells us to look into our hearts. This may not be covered by law but it should be very helpful when dealing with such matters. Further, the only person we have full control of is ourselves. Hence, three things we remember:
- Guard against Greed. When greed sinks in, everybody gets hurt. No matter the size of the estate, it will never be enough. What we can do to the family will never be enough. Ask ourselves: How much do I really need in life? Will these inherited things really make me money? Will I really gain true friends with all this material wealth?
- This is a bonus. I did not work for this. Many of the things we inherited were because of the blood, sweat and tears of our parents. On the other hand, God has put us into this world because he has a plan, purpose and mission for us. Certainly, if we are faithful to this plan, purpose and mission, God will always provide. Hence whatever we inherited, even in the sad reality of getting the raw end of the deal, it is still a bonus.
- Will the inheritance bring me to eternal life or will this even make it harder to attain? At the end of the day, we are all reminded that you cannot bring inheritance with you when it is your time. As Jesus said, the basis for eternal life is how we treated the people around us. When I was hungry did you give me something to eat; when I was thirsty did you gave me something to drink? As the saying goes: “Life is short, uncertain and swift. Eternal life is forever.”
May we pray for families that have been divided because of issues with inheritance. May we all be reminded:
- First, material wealth that is not supposed to be yours, will not be a blessing
- Second, how sure are we that the next generation will not follow our generation
- Lastly, most ideal is to instead pursue treasures in heaven. They cannot be stolen, they do not depreciate, and they bring true happiness.