Inspired by Hebrews 12:1-3
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 (NRSV)
We all have people who have inspired us and impressed us with their lives of faith. Some may be found in the bible (Abraham, Moses, Mary, and Paul are all popular examples), and some have lived in the centuries since the bible was written (Saint Benedict, Martin Luther, and Mother Teresa all make the short list of many). In every case, these were ordinary individuals who lived faithfully despite difficult circumstances and/or personal weaknesses. We look up to them because we recognize how difficult it is to maintain a living, guiding faith in the face of such hardship or apparent futility, and we believe that we probably wouldn’t have done as well in their place. That is why they have our admiration.
It’s impossible to know whether or not we would have done as well in their places, but it doesn’t matter. Each of them had a path to walk, a race that was set before them, and each race was specific to each person. Would Moses, with his leadership abilities, have been as successful as Mother Teresa in her endless work with the poor? Would Saint Benedict, with his commitment to order and calling to establish community among like-minded Christians, have been as successful as Paul in his dynamic mission to the pagan Gentiles? Each ran with perseverance the race that was set before them, and they are now in the great cloud of witnesses cheering us on as we run our own races, races that require the unique gifts and abilities that God has gifted each of us with.
Be encouraged by the faithful who have gone before us, and use their encouragement to live your own life in a way that will encourage others.
Let us pray. God of the ages, you guide your people in the way they should go. Enable us to discern our own gifts and callings, that we may follow you faithfully as we run the race you have set before us. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.