Best legacy to leave behind is personal witness to Christ, pope says
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — Despite personal failings and sins, Christians must live and die with hope, leaving behind a legacy of having trusted fully in God, Pope Francis said.
"Sinners, yes. Traitors, no! Corrupted, no!" the pope said, encouraging people, no matter how many mistakes they've made, not to stray from Christ and his church.
"The church is so motherly that she wants us even as we are, dirty much of the time, but the church cleans us up, she's a mother!" he said Feb. 6 during his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.
The pope recalled "a popular saying" by the 19th-century Cuban poet and nationalist, Jose Marti, who said there were three things everyone should do in life: "Plant a tree, have a child and write a book."
The pope asked people to consider: "What legacy will I leave behind?"
"A legacy of life? Did I do so much good that people love me like a father or mother? Have I planted a tree? Have I given life or wisdom? Have I written a book?" he asked.
Despite the "many scandals" in their lives, Christians must leave behind the legacy of having lived the Gospel, followed God's laws and given witness to Christ, he said.
The pope focused his homily on the day's first reading from the First Book of Kings, recounting King David's dying moments in which he firmly believed in God's promise and commanded his son always to follow God's laws.
King David had sinned and saw himself as a sinner, but he never wandered away from the people of God, the pope said, according to Vatican Radio.
The pope said King David offers a good example of how Christians today should prepare themselves for the inevitable hour of death.
David dies "quietly, peacefully, serenely" with the certainty he would join his ancestors, the pope said. "This is the grace of dying in hope, in the knowledge that they are waiting for us on the other side, that home and family continue on the other side" and death does not mean being alone.
But people need to pray for this grace, the pope said, "because in the last moments of life we know that life is a struggle" and the devil "wants his spoils."
The devil will tempt people, he said, especially at the most vulnerable moment of their death, and try to convince them that there is no God and no heaven, just darkness.
"But trusting in God starts now, in the little things in life and even when there are big problems: always trust in the Lord. That way one gets into the habit of trusting in the Lord and hope grows," he said.
"Let us ask for the grace of dying at home -- in the church; ask for the grace of dying in hope and with hope; and ask for the grace of leaving behind a beautiful legacy, a humane legacy, a legacy made up of the witness of our Christian life," he said.