Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Ignatius who was the second bishop of Antioch after Saint Peter (the first being Evodius). After being denounced by a fellow Christian Ignatius was arrested, condemned to death, and transported to Rome to be thrown to the wild beasts in the Coliseum. During the journey he wrote seven letters to various churches, in which he wrote about Christ, the organisation of the Church, and the Christian life. These are important documents for the early history of the Church; they also reveal a holy man who accepts his fate and begs the Christians in Rome not to try to deprive him of the crown of martyrdom.
Normally, when we give away a smile or a handshake, we receive it right back. That’s because love multiplies when you share it. It’s not the same with money. When you give money, say to a merchant, you don’t get any back, apart from your change. Your bank account is diminished.
Today’s Gospel warns us that if we focus primarily on possessions and money, we might approach Our Lord like the man having a hard time with his brother. He asks Our Lord to help him secure his share of an earthly inheritance. Unfortunately, he’s asking the wrong person. Our Lord is much more interested in our spiritual riches. He is rich in mercy and kindness, and he wants to make us rich too; and he teaches us that this is the kind of wealth that matters to God.
Just as a person approaches a financial advisor to increase their material wealth, so we can ask Our Lord to help us grow our spiritual wealth. This usually starts by appreciating the immense value of riches we already have: humility, patience, mercy, kindness, compassion, love. We can ask Our Lord to help us grow in them even more.
Because our spiritual treasure matters to God, he is ready and willing to give us even more. Unlike the brother who wanted to hold on to his share of money, God loves to share his bounty. His spiritual riches don’t diminish when he gives them away.
In just the same way, our spiritual treasure chest won’t be any less full, even if we try to empty it out on people every day. Remember Our Lord’s promise: “Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you” (Luke 6:38).