I am a runner.
Recently I listened to a talk by Fr. Mike Schmitz (Beyond Belief)that really resonated with me. During this talk he tells a story about a race he once ran and about a runner in the race who needed the support from his fellow runners in order to finish the race.
I know this feeling well. I recently ran a grueling race, one in which the course takes you over not one, but two mountains. The elevation changes were extreme and by the last mile I had nothing left. As my body begged me to walk, a man ran up behind me and yelled “come on girl, we’re doing this, we’re going to finish strong”.
As we approached the finish line, packed with a crowd cheering us on, a resurgence of energy drove me on to a strong finish.
I know I could not have done this had I not done as St. Paul had said, that I should “drive my body and train it” (1 Cor 9:27). I would not have done as well without the support of the crowd or the other runners in the race, the “cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1).
While this race was a physical one, the spiritual race is infinitely more important.
We should train ourselves every day for the spiritual race as if it is the last and most important race of all.
We should choose our companions or “running buddies” with care. Choose those who are training for the race with vigor and determination. Those who will “run with perseverance the race that is set before us” (Heb 12:1).
We should invoke the help of those that have finished the race, the “cloud of witnesses”, the saints. So that when we cross the finish line of this life, we too can say “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7).