Blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.
Right from the beginning, I’ll let you all know that this post is full of spoilers up through episode 133 of Naruto Shippuden.
Because of the the adolescent community that worships it and perhaps because of endless fillers of questionable quality, I think at times many of us are afraid of admitting we like Naruto. But I do – I like it a lot, even though I don’t follow it as closely as I once did. R86, who once wrote about an important scene in the series involving Shikamaru, enjoys it even more than I do.
The thing is, I didn’t like Naruto at first. I hated the first arc. So what was it that got to me? The answer can be given in just one word: death. The stakes are high in Naruto, with a number of important characters (and good guys at that!) dying in the course of the series. The following deaths marked important turning points and not only add that certain weight to the show, but are also deeply meaningful:
- The Third Hokage’s death in the fight against Orochimaru (Naruto, episode 79)
- Asuma’s death after imparting final words of wisdom to Shikamaru (Naruto Shippuuden, episode 80)
- Jiraiya’s death after investigating and fighting Pain (Naruto Shippuuden, episode 133)
But the story of each of these heroes did not conclude with their deaths (and I’m not alluding to resurrection techniques). Each motivated and changed others by how they lived and by how they died, particularly leaving imprints on Naruto through Jiraiya, Shikamaru through Asuma, and the entire village through the Hokage.
All three left a legacy.
The early Christian church was very similar in this regard. While martyrdom came in waves, it’s true that many or most of the great church leaders were martyred. And as with the leaders of Konohagure, the early Christian community relied on the church fathers. And as the ninja ironically became stronger with their mentors’ deaths, so did the early church:
While this posts post’s quote means more than just legacy (more immediately, some Romans actually converted upon witnessing executions and torture), the ideas is similar. The deaths of the martyrs couldn’t kill the Christian movement; in fact, the Christians grew stronger in sharing these sufferings.
In Japan, the state leaders who effectively killed the Christian movement wised up in this regard. As reflected in the masterpiece, Silence, they began to focus on other means, turning away from martyring the missionaries who were church fathers in the country, since their deaths, again, only strengthened the movement.
We, too, can leave a legacy – and ours doesn’t have to come at the end of life. Naruto, for instance, is already leaving a legacy by how his actions are transforming others. What we do now affects those around us. For instance, reaching out to a difficult person in love could help melt that individual’s heart and lead to change in his or her lifestyle.
But for use to leave a legacy, we have to make that movement and act. What are you doing to leave a legacy?