The Inheritance

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.

— Colossians 1:12

To have a share in any earthly inheritance is to diminish the share of the other inheritors. In the inheritance of the saints, that which each has, goes to increase the possession of the rest. Hear what Dante puts in the mouth of his guide, as they pass through Purgatory: Because you point and fix your longing eyes, On things where sharing lessens every share, The human bellows heave with envious sighs. But if the loftiest love that dwelleth there, Up to the heaven of heavens your longing turn, Then from your heart will pass this fearing care: The oftener there the word our they discern, The more of good doth everyone possess, The more of love doth in that cloister burn. Dante desires to know how it can be that a distributed good should make the receivers the richer the more of them there are; and Virgil answers: Because thy mind doth stick To earthly things, and on them only brood, From the true light thou dost but darkness pick. That same ineffable and infinite Good, Which dwells up there, to Love doth run as fleet, As sunrays to bright things, for sisterhood. It gives itself proportionate to the heat: So that, wherever Love doth spread its reign, The growing wealth of God makes that its seat. And the more people that up thither strain, The more there are to love, the more they love, And like a mirror each doth give and gain. In this inheritance, then, a man may desire and endeavor to obtain his share without selfish prejudice to others; nay, to fail of our share in it, would be to deprive others of a portion of theirs.