But, there's also a time in every adult's life to think about this: what spiritual legacy will we leave when we die? And who will receive it? Whom have we affected profoundly - for good or for ill - in our lives? Who are our physical and spiritual children? What will they remember about what our lives have taught them?
People, concrete relationships, are really what matter most in our lives.
And it's very interesting to reflect on St. Paul's relationship with young Timothy, whom he loved like a son. Paul was Timothy's mentor and role model. He took Timothy on missionary journeys and sent him on special missions. Eventually Timothy became administrator of the community at Ephesus. Paul wrote Timothy three letters when he (Paul) was near the end of his own career, after he had suffered imprisonments, beatings, and persecutions. These letters are Paul's spiritual legacy to his spiritual son.
He writes in his second letter "to Timothy, my dear child..." about his faith and the Christian lifestyle which he prays Timothy will continue to live:
"God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control..." (1:7)
"Do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for His sake; but bear your hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God." (1:8).
"Turn from youthful desires and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace...Avoid foolish and ignorant debates, for you know that they breed quarrels." (2:22).
"You have followed my teaching, way of life, purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, and sufferings...In fact, all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.. But you, remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it." (3: 10 ff.)
"The time of my departure is at hand...I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on, the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day." (4: 6-8).
Being a good person means living a counter-cultural lifestyle, a life of fidelity to relationships and communities, love and compassion, purity and self-control, patience, and peace. It means not being afraid to speak what we believe without indulging in foolish quarrels or insults. It means realizing that there is a time in every life for joy and for tears, for celebrating and for mourning, for being welcomed and for being rejected, for being well and for dying well.
If like Paul, we have lived a good, God- and people-centered life, one of courage, truth, and self-discipline, then we have run a good race. We have fought the good fight. We have left a spiritual legacy to be proud of. And God will make us forever welcome in His Kingdom.