The Only Legacy that Matters (Twenty-ninth Ordinary)

The Pharisees plotted a way to trap him into saying something damaging. They sent their disciples, with a few of Herod’s followers mixed in, to ask, “Teacher, we know you have integrity, teach the way of God accurately, are indifferent to popular opinion, and don’t pander to your students. So tell us honestly: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Matthew 22: 15 – 17)

Not long ago I attended a funeral for a man who had served as a journalist for the diocesan paper for over 25 years. Kevin was all the one would hope and trust a journalist might be: inquisitive, persevering, intelligent and articulate. Usually dishevelled, wearing a corduroy jacket with a camera slung over his shoulder, Kevin never seemed to care about clothes and appearance, money or status. Pursuing a good story and a commitment to justice – those were Kevin’s passions. And above all else, Kevin was honest. The people who gathered for Kevin’s funeral that morning heard these words at the start from the homilist: “Kevin was a good man, an honest man who spoke the truth”. It was a starkly simple statement followed by these words: “And what is more important than to be a good and honest person?”

It was one of those moments when I found myself thinking: Really, what could matter more at my death than for someone to be able to say I was a good and truthful person? Awards and accolades, accomplishments and financial success are fleeting and pale in comparison to goodness and honesty. The Pharisees didn’t seem to understand this truth in their arguments with Jesus, the good and honest teacher. Kevin’s funeral reminded me how important it is to be a person who is good and honest.

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