In my Tuesday blog (1/14) I gave a quotation from the monastic writer John Cassian that is taken from his book titled The Conferences. In this extremely practical and moving treatment of deep spirituality Cassian wrote the following about “true friendships” which I share again today:
True friendships . . . have as their foundation [five principles] . . . The last is something not to be doubted with regard to vice in general–namely, a person must believe each day that he is going to depart from this world.
There is not much to add to this last principle of true friendship. If you truly believe that you are mortal then tell yourself every day (even many times during the day) that soon you will be done with this world as you now know it. If you live this way each moment then you will live a life that is genuinely prepared to meet the true judge and savior of all mankind. You will also count your reputation as of little importance and value what truly matters in life – namely, following Jesus and loving your brothers and sisters as Jesus loved his own. Jesus clearly taught his disciples: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35, NRSV).
I am writing a book in 2014 that has the title: Our Love Is Too Small. The verse that the Spirit used to prompt me in my direction was John 13:34-35. Our friendships are not lasting and deep precisely because our love is too small. One sure way to increase our love is to remind ourselves that we are going to depart this world for another, sooner than we all think. Whatever it takes, make it your passion to embrace your own mortality on a daily basis in 2014. Fix in your minds these words:
But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him (Hebrews 9:26-28, NRSV).