“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Heb. 12:1)
Our lives are on display to those who have finished their course before us. They are, as it were, cheering us on. And, as we run our race, we do well to remember the stories of those who ran before us. Their legacies. Their examples. We need them for our race.
On Divine Mercy Sunday we celebrated the entry of two such great men, St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II, into the Communion of Saints. They join the “cloud of witnesses” that ran the race and set the example before us. Also coming to mind…
Peter – crucified upside down around 68 A.D.
James the son of Zebedee – put to death by Herod Agrippa I shortly before the day of the Passover.
Andrew – reported to have been crucified at Patrae in Achaia.
Philip – executed at Hierapolis.
Bartholomew – martyred in India.
Matthew – martyred in Ethiopia.
Thomas – lanced through in Ethiopia
James, son of Alpheus – thrown down from the temple by the scribes and Pharisees and then stoned
Simon the Zealot – martyred.
Paul – beheaded.
I’m not sure that any challenges I am enduring in my journey can begin to compare to the Great Ones who have come before me and walk among us – who carry their cross with dignity and courage. I want to thank you Holy Men and Women of God for the encouragement and inspiration you bring me and have brought countless others over the centuries. Living a life of nobility, sacrifice and service, you re-define what it means to be a human being. You set the bar high. I might be tempted to be discouraged except that I know you walk beside me and are cheering me on. I will finish the race strong.