Our Most Important Inheritance

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”
Jesus replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”
(Lk 12: 13-14)

This incident in the Gospel points to a situation that, sadly, we often encounter today. Someone dies – a parent or grandparent, an aunt or uncle – and the survivors fight over the will, the inheritance they believe is rightfully theirs. How many families have been torn apart by this scenario! When this situation arises, it’s good to remember what Jesus said to the crowd: “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” (Lk 12:15)
But my point today is that whether parents are rich or poor, the most important thing they can leave to their children is the gift of their Catholic Faith. Practicing and handing on the faith is what Catholic parents promise to do when they’re married and have their children baptized. And that bequest of faith is a blessing beyond measure.
Now, we know that in far too many cases, even the most faithful Catholic parents see their sons and daughters abandon the faith as soon as they’re old enough to do so, sometimes even when they’re still living at home, or certainly when they’ve moved out and are on their own. It’s one of the most heartbreaking things devout, life-long Catholic parents can experience – to see their kids become completely secular, drop out of the Church community, and fail to have their own kids baptized and raised in the Church.
Perhaps when sons and daughters do this – when they renounce the faith of their parents – they should also renounce the rest of their family inheritance too, the financial part, the money and property. Really, wouldn’t that be the honest thing to do?
How disrespectful it is to parents and grandparents when children and grandchildren abandon the traditional faith of their family, a faith that’s been part of the family DNA for generations. Would that we could still sing: “Faith of our fathers, living still, in spite of dungeon, fire and sword. O how our hearts beat high with joy whene’er we hear that glorious word. Faith of our fathers, holy faith! We will be true to thee till death.”
Something to think about: Parents whose children have abandoned the faith shouldn’t blame themselves, but rather just continue to give good example and pray patiently for the wandering sheep of their family. In the end, it’s all in God’s hands.