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. (Heb 12:1-2a)
If someone wants to be successful, the best thing to do is to seek out a group of successful people. If someone wants to make a lot of money, it is necessary to seek out a group of people who have excelled in finances. In short, people often surround themselves with other, like-minded, individuals. That is, after all, the key to achieving.
The first reading today reminds us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses to the faith. Since we are, we are encouraged to become like those witnesses, ridding ourselves of everything that keeps us from doing the right thing.
That is not quite as easy as it sounds since we are also surrounded by another cloud of witnesses. These witnesses are the representatives of this world. The world, as we know it, is steeped in sin. Its witnesses teach us that it is absolutely encouraged to do anything that we can do to get ahead. The world tells us not to worry about anyone else but to only worry about ourselves.
These two clouds of witnesses are diametrically opposed and it is often not easy to tell them apart because of our sinful human nature. What looks like a good witness might actually be someone leading us away from God.
That is why we have to do everything that we can to fortify ourselves in the faith. We need to make sure that we have a grounded prayer life. We need to be busy about the work of the Lord, serving others and providing for their needs. In deepening our prayer life and in living the life of a servant, we will be able to see more clearly who is witnessing to the world and who is witnessing to the Lord.
Once we see clearly, the next step is easy: associate with the right cloud of witnesses, become one with them, and provide an example for others who are trying to live a good, holy life.
FAITH ACTION: If you know someone who is struggling in the faith, do all that you can to support that person. At the same time, pray that you receive the grace that you need to remain strong in the faith.