What Legacy are you Creating?

by Fr. Jamin Scott David

As I finished seminary at Notre Dame in New Orleans, my class realized that there was a tradition that the graduating men would leave a gift behind for the seminary. I realized soon enough that each class was very unique, and their gift said a lot about them. One class left a five foot tall icon for example; I guess they wanted to be remembered. Another class left tablecloths to protest the rotten, ugly dining room tables we ate at every day. My class was caught up in liturgical controversy – whether or not crystal chalices were permissible at Mass. Thus we left six nice metal chalices. But no matter the gift, we all left a legacy. And it wasn’t just so people would remember us. We did it to make things just a little bit better for those following in our footsteps.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus leaves a legacy of his own – he leaves his commandments. Knowing that he is soon to return to the Father and will no longer be physically present with them, he emphasizes to his disciples how to continue to live out his legacy – through living a life that he modeled and by obeying the commandments.

You’re probably wondering which commandments make up the legacy of Jesus. Well, there were many – but they might be summed up in the great commandment – to love one another as Christ has loved us. That’s the legacy of love that Jesus gives to each and every one of us – to go that far for one another, to bear each other’s burdens, and to provide for each other’s needs. Living out such a legacy is never easy, so you’ll notice the shift in the readings this week. He’s sending us help to live out that legacy – the Holy Spirit, our advocate.

How did Jesus live out this legacy? He too followed his own law of love. He ministers to the poor and the marginalized, to women, persons with disabilities, lepers, strangers, and the imprisoned. He fed the hungry and healed the sick. These are part of living out a legacy for us to follow. We are called to love our neighbor and see them as God sees us all.

Maybe a story might help. I have a friend who was married and divorced. Her ex-husband was far behind in his child support payments. He was thus sentenced to jail for contempt of court for his failure to pay. When her kids learned of their father’s future, they asked her to forgive him so he wouldn’t go to jail. That took some soul searching. He owed over $100k of child support. It was tough for her to do. He made it tough for her to support three children. But she was most bitter that she was doing it alone. By forgiving her ex-husband, she left a powerful legacy for her children and others to follow.

By your daily actions, what legacy are you creating? What is your footprint? Does the world see you as a vessel of love? Or is your legacy something else? As we reflect on the many ways that we can live out our legacy, let us pray to the Father that he send us His Spirit so that we can leave a legacy not only of words but also of deeds to quip those who are entering the world behind us!

~Fr. Jamin