Hebrews 11:32-40 speaks of a great cloud of witnesses from the days before Christ who surround us.
Today, 2,000 years later, a period greater than the entire span of the old testament starting with Abraham, we have an even greater cloud
of those who followed Jesus and carried on his work by faith working through love.
First of all is Paul himself, who wrote those words.
He persevered through numerous persecutions, through the dangers he encountered in his travels and even through stoning.
Throughout the 2,000 years countless women and men laored with faith working through love for Christ. Many were persecuted, even kiled, for their work.
Most of them are unknown to us, but they surround us with their witness nevertheless.
Very close to our own time consider pope John Paul II. He spread the message of Jesus to every corner of the world, fostering peace between the different religions.
With great courage he opposed communism, even in the face of an assassination attempt. He helped bring it down.
Though he was aware of allegations against a former cardinal he was apparently persuaded by this person’s denials. He was wrong. Saints can make mistakes, even popes.
In our own day we have Pope Francis, who carries on the work of Jesus, spreading his message of peace, love and service to the world.