Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Run the Race

February 1 2010
Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

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. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” (Mark 5:28, 33-34)

Thank you, God, for your holy people who teach me, Paul, Mark, my CCD teachers as a child, my parents, my professors. Thank you, God, for holy people, including those who have died and rest in you, whose lives inspire me, your saints, dear friends, my Cursillo teams. Thank you, Jesus, for your Word in the gospel. May I answer your call and see your presence in all I do today. May I keep my eyes fixed on you.

When traveling in Cairo, Egypt, my husband and I visited an extremely poor neighborhood with representatives of an organization which serves orphaned children with necessities of life and education. The hub of activities for the more than 50 children is the small Coptic Christian Church. At the church children, teens, young adults and those mothers who are still living get food, attend not only worship services but also sessions on living a Christian life, Christian education, get tutoring and mentoring. One of the representatives told me that along the unpaved, mud street where the church is located, many of the apartments house Christian families. It is not that they segregate themselves, he told me, it is that there are so few of them, they gather for mutual support.

The cloud of witnesses, Paul describes, include those holy men and women who have gone before but are also part of the Christian community. The Copts in Imbaba, Cairo, surround each other and not only help each other out with daily living but also call each other to desist in sin which distracts and persevere in running the race in a country of oppression and extreme poverty. With banners of saints and the Patriarch fluttering above the street, with pictures and Bibles in their simple homes, with a church abuzz with activity, these Cairenes keep Jesus in front of their faces and we found them full of hope, full of faith. I keep them in my prayers as I watch the violence in Egypt. I am in both hope and fear as they demonstrate for their freedom.

“Cloud of witnesses.” Are we part of this cloud? Do we hold our fellow Cursillistas accountable to rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us (the notes in the NAB say that the word “cling” can also be translated “be distracted”). Accountability does not mean pummeling someone for their transgressions but rather helping each other face forward, face to Jesus, rather than turning aside, choosing other than Jesus. And do we ask for help being accountable ourselves? I look at the TV and wonder how much faith in a God who heals the un-healable woman fuels the courage of the Egyptians, Christian and Muslim, who are putting their lives on the line for their country. Where is my fuel? What direction am I running?