Friday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time
At two points in the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius says that meditation on death may be helpful. The first is during the First Week, when the retreatant is considering sin. The other is during the Second Week, when the retreatant may be trying to make a major decision, such as a state of life.He says we are to think about the present choice, consider what principle or course of action “I would wish to have followed […] if I were at the moment of death,” and then “make my decision entirely in conformity with it. The finality of death heightens the urgency of decisions made during life, and reminds us that we cannot just dither or choose aimlessly.
Hezekiah has a taste of that in the first reading today. Isaiah tells him to “put your house in order, for you are about to die.” Pleading with the Lord, Hezekiah is granted an extra 15 years of life (no more or less) in order to handle his affairs. He knows how long he has, and can prepare himself accordingly. In some ways, Hezekiah is particularly fortunate, because he knows when he will die. But the reality that we will die is one that we must all face. Improvements in medicine, hygiene, and other aspects of life have made death easier to stave off, but it is only a temporary reprieve, like the one granted Hezekiah by the Lord. We should examine ourselves and ask whether we are actually ready for the moment of death, and whether we do actually conform our lives with how we would want them to be at the moment of death.