I’ve mentioned previously one of the things the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius is known for, is the contemplation for making a choice regarding a state or way of life. And one of the considerations that St. Ignatius proposes is that we imagine ourselves at the moment of our death, with the freedom1 and perspective we would have, having reached the end of our life’s journey. And then to ask ourselves: what would the decision in this situation be, that I would have wanted myself to have made?
There is a whole spiritual and philosophical tradition of memento mori – which is Latin for “remember that you must die.” And its effectiveness is that it provides an uncommon perspective for us, since most of us do not ordinarily spend our time thinking about our eventual death.
Have you ever thought about your own death? What do you think it will be like? Who do you think will be around? How will it affect them?
In today’s Gospel, we have the shortest and yet perhaps most meaningful verse in the entire Bible: “Jesus wept.” I have always found this verse remarkable. Even though Jesus knows he is going to raise up Lazarus in just a few moments, the depth of his friendship is visible to all – some of the people who witnessed it said: “See how he loved him!” Have you ever thought on the day of your death, that Jesus will weep for you, as he did for his friend Lazarus?
At the end of the day, a vocation is not “doing something for God” as much as it is the story our friendship with God. Can we choose to live in such a way as to become the kind of friend Jesus will weep for when it comes time for our death? And yet the most beautiful thing is that our friendship with Jesus is stronger than death. He will raise us, his friends, to life again on the last day, to live with him forever.
1 Fleming S.J., David L. Draw Me Into Your Friendship: The Spiritual Exercises A Literal Translation & A Contemporary Reading. Saint Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1996., 144.