There is a scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when Harry is looking at an old photograph of the Order prior to his birth. The Order of the Phoenix was an organization tasked with tracking down Lord Voldemort and his followers. Many of the people in the photograph had been killed, including Harry's parents. Others had been maimed, scared or forever changed. But in this photograph, everyone looked young and still innocent.
Do you ever wonder if John, the apostle ever did that? Can you picture John looking at a photograph of the twelve, maybe around Jesus during His ministry? You may be saying, "Uhhh--Jamie, they didn't have photographs 2000 years ago." Duh--I know that. I'm not a University of Kansas grad! ;-) Just play along though. Imagine John recalling Jesus and the twelve. Jesus of course had been crucified. Judas has committed suicide. And the other ten has also been martyred--six of them suffering the same fate of their Lord. John was the only of the apostles who lived to a ripe old age and died naturally.
Have you ever looked at a photograph of yourself--maybe looked through an old high school year book and thought, "Wow, if I only knew then what I know now!" Hopefully, we can do that in our spiritual life. Hopefully, we can look back a year, maybe five or even ten years and see the growth we've made instead of being stagnant. Those years may seem like we've been fighting dark wizards or faced martyrdom (maybe daily) I know I can see great strides in the last five years. Ten years ago---wow--don't ask!
I think it's important to look back and to see how far we've come because too often if feels like for every step forward we make in the spiritual life we take two steps back. It's as if we are climbing a snowy mountain. But by looking back, we can see our footsteps and see how far we have actually come.
And then we can be better motivated and concentrate on making strides forward. We can do that examination of conscience and realize what we have to do to better ourselves and by recalling the past we can better prepare ourselves to go out and fight those demons.