“All the hungers we have for love, for union, for happiness are given by God to lead us to him. The difference between a saint and the greatest sinner is where they go to satisfy that hunger.” ― Christopher West: born 1969: is a Catholic author and speaker, best known for his work on Pope John Paul II’s series of audience addresses entitled Theology of the Body.)
Scripture Text: (HEB 12:1-4)
Brothers and sisters:
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us
and persevere in running the race that lies before us
while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus,
the leader and perfecter of faith.
For the sake of the joy that lay before him
Jesus endured the cross, despising its shame,
and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.
Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners,
in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart.
In your struggle against sin
you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.
Even though at times we may feel alone in running the narrow road that Jesus has opened before us, the truth is that we have a “great” cloud of saints surrounding us—that means in front, behind, above, and on both sides of us. We are running a race in an arena that is packed with fans on every side, and each of these fans is pulling for us. We are not without cheerleaders; we do not run alone. Yes the “baton” is in our hands, and we are representing thousands who have carried it before we did…or who are running alongside of us even now.
Notice the two secrets of making the race a little easier to run. “Rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us.” Did you ever see a race in which the runners wore snow boots, baggy pants, or heavy jackets? Runners know that they must strip down to the essentials so that they are not burdened by unnecessary clothing. What is the unnecessary baggage that I am lugging along as I try to run the race toward Jesus? Am I attached to something that keeps me from moving forward more quickly in the race?
The second secret is one that all athletes know well. Keep focused on the finish line. For us the finish line is one step in front of us—we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus who signed us up for the race and who coaches us each step of the race. He is the recruiter, the coach, the encourager, and the finish line as well. My goal in life is to try to move toward Jesus each second of my life. He is ever before me; it is for me to keep my eyes fixed on him.
And if we are feeling ourselves growing weary, losing heart, or being tempted to give up, let’s take heart from the encouragement offered us today. Let us take time to pray our personal “litany of the saints” to remind us how many witnesses are in the stands cheering and praying us on. And if we’ve turned our eyes on ourselves, our problems, or even members of the opposition, let’s redirect our attention to the “leader and perfecter” of our faith.