Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
Chapter twelve of the Letter to the Hebrews begins with a reference to the great cloud of witnesses of which we read in chapter eleven. The sacred writer goes on to say that these heroes of faith should motivate us to run our own race with eyes fixed on Jesus. Again, I have to say that this is one of my favorite Scriptures, simply building on the words we heard on Monday.
I have long thought of our life here on earth as our particular and peculiar time in the desert. The story of the Israelites making their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, culminating in their crossing of the River Jordan, is, I believe, a metaphor for every human life. As the psalmist says: O God, you are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water. (Psalm 63)
The imagery of a "cloud of witnesses" fits perfectly in this metaphor. The heroes of our faith make it possible for us to live in this desert shielded from the heat of the sun which would sap us of strength. We journey not to the River Jordan; rather, we look forward to life with Jesus. Our eyes remain fixed on him as we continue to struggle through our personal deserts of chronic illness, pain or disability.