Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,
I love the phrase from today's second reading and the image it creates, "We are surrounded by so great a Cloud of Witnesses." It is the verse we used on our baptismal pool to describe the names that are engraved around the edge of the pool. One row has names of canonized Saints with African roots and the other row has names of Ancestors. These are the same type of people that the author of the Letter to the Hebrews had in mind when he penned this verse. These people stand before the throne of God. Their lives are witnesses to us of what it means to be a faithful disciple of Christ, and they intercede on our behalf before God. They inspire us and give us strength and hope that we too can walk the path and one day enter the Kingdom of our Father.
This week we added one more name to that list, another saint joined that great "Cloud of Witnesses." Of course, I'm speaking about Robert "Pops" Valle. And I can't think of Bob without also thinking of Laura. They were a truly wonderful couple, who passionately lived their faith. Visitors ask me quite often about our use of "elders," who are they and why are they blessing the preacher? Well Bob & Laura were perfect examples. They freely gave of themselves and asked nothing in return. They never sought accolades or worried about being thanked. They simply wanted to share their blessings and give glory to God. As elders they also sought to pass on their wisdom to another generation, whether it was Pop's passion for singing, even if he had to be wheeled into the choir, or Laura passing on her artistic knowledge along with a pot of gumbo. They simply wanted our community to be the best it could be, and they were ready to do anything and everything that they could do to make it so. As Bob joins Laura in that great Cloud of Witnesses, the heavenly choir gains a voice and we gain another heavenly cheerleader. ...rest in peace Pops!
In the Redeemer,