“…we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses….” (Hebrews 12:1)
The New Testament verse, set forth above, confirms the following four points:
1). We on earth
2). are surrounded
3). by a great cloud of witnesses
4). who are in Heaven.
Under the heading, “A Cloud of Witnesses,” Section 2683 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says the following:
2683 The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom, especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were “put in charge of many things.” Their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.
The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible states:
“Images of the faithful departed [in Hebrews 12:1] cheering us on hints at the communion and intercession of the saints. It shows that the Church in heaven is neither cut off from nor disinterested in the pilgrim Church on earth but is actively solictious of her salvation.”
Even a number of Protestant commentaries, in commenting on this verse, establish that, at a minimum, the Saints in Heaven are very interested in what is happening on earth. The picture above is based on Rev. 5:8, showing the Saints in Heaven bringing the prayers of the faithful to the Lord; it is entitled, Saint John on Patmos by the Limbourg brothers, around 1411, Public Domain, U.S.A.
As we run the race of salvation (the metaphor used in Hebrews 12:1) it is comforting to know that there are a “huge” multitude of saints in Heaven who are “intensely interested” in us persevering to the end! “We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world” (CCC 2683).
Tom Mulcahy, M.A.
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