By Rev. Ray E. Atwood Sacred Heart Parish, La Porte City
“Were not our hearts burning while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” ~ Luke 24:32
The disciples realized the incredible experience they had once Our Lord vanished from their sight after opening the Scriptures to them. They understood that true wealth is found in a personal relationship with the God who can inflame hearts. That relationship is the greatest wealth on earth.
There are two kinds of ownership: one is a legitimate extension of our personality; the other is not. We can see these two types in a nursery: a child who has only a single toy enriches it with his love. The spoiled child, on the other hand, with many toys spread out before him, quickly becomes bored and ceases to take pleasure in any one of them. We do a disservice to children and adults by filling their lives with all kinds of things that only clutter and distract us.
Men and women are forever trying to add to their possession far beyond the limit of enjoyment. This is because of their mistaken belief that their hunger for the Infinite can be satisfied by an infinite number of material things; what they really need is the infinity of Divine love.
Our imaginations are easily misled into desire a false infinity, when once we begin to long for wealth. Wealth appeals to the imagination, which is insatiable in its desires. Real goods, such as food and water, do not have this quality. There is only so much food our stomach can consume. When the Lord fed the five thousand people in the wilderness with loaves and fish, all had their fill. But if He had given them $20,000 savings bonds, no one would have said, “One is enough for me.”
Credit, stocks, bonds, and bank balances have no limit. We can accumulate them forever and never be satisfied. Why? Because God made the heart for Him, and only He can satisfy it.
In this materialistic world, how do we keep our love pure? First, by giving away in proportion to the amount we receive. For example, if we receive three percent bonus, we could give three percent of our income to a charity. We are merely trustees or stewards of wealth. By giving away our tithe, we realize wealth is fleeting and meant to be shared.
The second way is to detach from wealth. Saint Francis of Assisi did this in an extraordinary way. His example is not necessarily meant to be followed literally. But we can examine our earthly goods and perhaps downsize our lives (spring is an excellent time to do this). The man who gives up wealth as security is the most secure richest man on earth because he desires nothing.
Misers can fill their wallets but never their hearts because they cannot obtain all the wealth they are able to imagine and desire. On the other hand, the poor in spirit are rich in happiness because wealth does not possess them. God gave us love to spend in getting back to him. He did not give us love enough to hoard. May we seek the greatest wealth of all: the love of God.