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What Our Lives Say

Saturday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

First Reading: Hebrews 11:1-7

Brothers and sisters:
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for
and evidence of things not seen.
Because of it the ancients were well attested.
By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God,
so that what is visible came into being through the invisible.
By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice greater than Cain’s.
Through this, he was attested to be righteous,
God bearing witness to his gifts,
and through this, though dead, he still speaks.
By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death,
and he was found no more because God had taken him.
Before he was taken up, he was attested to have pleased God.
But without faith it is impossible to please him,
for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who seek him.
By faith Noah, warned about what was not yet seen,
with reverence built an ark for the salvation of his household.
Through this, he condemned the world
and inherited the righteousness that comes through faith.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145:2-3, 4-5, 10-11

R. (see 1) I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Generation after generation praises your works
and proclaims your might.
They speak of the splendor of your glorious majesty
and tell of your wondrous works.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.

Gospel: Mark 9:2-13

Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
then from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, the disciples no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.
Then they asked him,
“Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
He told them, “Elijah will indeed come first and restore all things,
yet how is it written regarding the Son of Man
that he must suffer greatly and be treated with contempt?
But I tell you that Elijah has come
and they did to him whatever they pleased,
as it is written of him.”

NAB

Last month, my father-in-law passed away unexpectedly. In the days after his death, as we prepared an obituary and looked through photos and documents and newspaper clippings from his eighty-four years, I found myself revisiting some old questions. How do you capture an individual’s legacy? What does it mean to live a good life?

My father-in-law lived a good life, I’d say; he worked hard, gave countless hours to the community, loved his wife of fifty-four years, and raised three children who, each in their own way, make the world a better place. And as we hear from people who knew Bob at different moments of his life, we have the joy of hearing stories we did not know. We gain a more complete picture of all the ways that his good life enriched others. We hear about little acts of service and courtesy that inspire us to do the same.

The First Reading addresses the idea of legacy. Abel gave freely and generously, and God bears witness to his gifts. “Through this, though dead, he still speaks,” we read. This line resonates with me. Our bodies end in death, with a funeral and a grave marker. In a larger sense, though, even this end does not silence us. We continue to speak even after death by what we did while we were alive.

The teacher’s students pass along the lessons she taught. The mother’s children grow and have children of their own. The writer’s words are read long after her death. The activist’s efforts touch generations she will never meet. The gardener’s landscapes bloom and grow year after year, spring after spring.

And the little moments of our daily lives—those moments where we choose kindness over selfishness, where we make sacrifices for our family, where we nurture the confidence and faith of others—those speak, too. Those interactions may seem like nothing, but they are often the first stories that we hear when a loved one dies, recounted in condolence cards and shared at memorial services. “She always greeted me with a smile,” someone says.  “She helped me out of a pinch.”  “She was the best neighbor you could imagine.”  “She could make me laugh like no one else could.”

Our lives speak, long after our mouths no longer can. What will your life say?

Think of someone you love who has died. Reflect on how his or her life still speaks, through you or through others.

Ginny Kubitz Moyer is a mother, high school English teacher, and BBC period drama junkie. She is the author of Taste and See: Experiencing the Goodness of God with Our Five Senses and Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. Ginny lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two boys, and about thirty thousand Legos.  You can find out more about her here

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