I, John, saw another angel come up from the East, holding the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea, “Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the children of Israel. After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.” All the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They prostrated themselves before the throne, worshiped God, and exclaimed: “Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.” He said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14)
By Bishop Jarod Cruthis
Today we celebrate those Heroes of the Faith who have gathered as a great cloud of witnesses to cheer us on as we walk out our spiritual journey. The closer we get to the Cross of Christ, the more difficult the journey becomes. The normal Christian life is no cake walk. The walk of Faith is one filled with obstacles, temptations, trials and tribulations. This is not to say that we never experience the blessings and joys of Christianity, but rather a reminder that we, just like all the faithful that have gone before us must overcome in order to enter in.
One of the most beautiful images that eventually brought me into the sacramental Faith was this image of that great cloud of witnesses. For years I had been taught that there was this great chasm, a divide so great that separated us from all that is in Heaven. It was always my understanding that when facing hard times, you just send up a prayer and hope for the best. Never was I taught that there were others praying for me, cheering me on, and there to support me on my journey. For many this is a controversial theological issues, but Scripture is clear. Those saints who have gone before us continue to walk out their salvation. They continue in their gifts and callings and for what? For me and for you. These saints pray for us, they intercede on our behalf. This is not because we need a mediator between the Savior and His creation, but as divine assistance in a turbulent world.
How amazing it is to know that in times of trouble, I not only can rest in the fact that Christ through the Holy Spirit fills me and lifts me up, but the saints of God are cheering me on as well. They are shouting and pointing towards the Cross so that I won’t stay down when I fall down. Just like a trusted friend, when you get the news, when you lose the job, when the wind is knocked out of your sails, there are those in Heavenly places giving us all that one, “You can do it!” We are not alone my friends. God has given to those who have been faithful, tasks to bless and encourage the faithful.