Perhaps you have been at the bedside of dying people who regretted not leaving more wealth to their heirs. They saw their contribution to the future solely in terms of financial benefits. We have also been at dinners where the "lucky heirs" were at each others' throats over who got what. In Luke's gospel, someone said, "Teacher, tell my brother to give me my share of the family inheritance." But Jesus said, "Friend, who made me judge or arbiter over you?" Then he said to the crowd, "Avoid greed in all its forms".
As Jesus is preparing to die he wishes to leave us a gift. His gift is not an earthly estate; his gift is something much more important- peace, and not just any peace, but his peace, my peace I give you. What if Jesus said I am going to leave every one of you $100,000.00? We would blow through that before you knew it. His peace is infinitely more valuable and lasting. The peace of this world comes and goes depending on outer circumstances - when everything is going well we manage some inner calm. But when things take a turn for the worse, we shake and vacillate with fear and anxiety.
The gift of Jesus' peace is unshakeable. That is best expressed by St. Paul in Romans when he writes that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. Jesus' last will and testament, in John's Gospel, values relationships above all else. Therefore his gift is not something that will divide them but something that will be an active force keeping them together. He leaves his peace, the only true generative gift for the future. Peace, by its nature, restores people to one another.
And Jesus does something more than just bequeath his peace. He gives his Holy Spirit who inspires us to remember Jesus and through remembering the Spirit teaches us the way of peace, the importance of relationships. If we are bequeathed money we will spend it. The gift of the Spirit lasts forever.
What will we leave those who follow us? What will be our legacy to those we leave behind? Will we leave the values of Jesus, values that strengthen our relationships- peace, patience, longsuffering? Will we teach and be an example to those who follow us about how to pray, how to breathe with the spirit of Jesus? We congratulate ourselves and say, "I gave my child an education so that he could make a living". Yes, and that is important, but did I share my spiritual values so that he could make a life? There is a difference. Peace I leave you, my peace I give you.