SUNDAY OF THE TWENTIETH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME AUGUST 18, 2019
A Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews 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 he 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.
“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..” I had the opportunity to visit one of the catacombs on a trip to Rome a few years back. Modern archeological discovery meant that these catacombs - once buried, hidden and forgotten in the earth - are now open to the pilgrim to visit as more sites are excavated as we speak. They are tombs of early Christians, of families, of priests and bishops, possibly of martyrs of the early Church also. Walking through these dusty and musty underground caves of eras passed, I felt a tremendous sense of continuity and connection to the early Church; by their witness, and the fruits of their faith. I stood there. Me, a daughter of the Orient, from an English-speaking continent, travelled half way across the world to a land and a people that on a natural reality would generally be unknown to me, but they are known to me. They are known to me by the membership we share in the Mystical Body of Christ. They are known to me at every Holy Mass ever celebrated. They are known to me by the faith we profess in Jesus Christ and in the supernatural reality of the Church He founded. It is a beautiful realization when we experience this reality in a new dimension. The cloud of witnesses of our forefathers and ancestors in the faith are not past history but present reality at each and every Mass as the Church enters into the One, Eternal Mystery of the Eucharist in worship of the One God who makes us one with one another. Let us pray to grow in fidelity and love for the Church and her stewards, the priest and bishops whom God has chosen.