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The Battle Is Within

Last updated on October 11, 2021

Therefore, 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, the leader, and perfecter of faith.

Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. (Hebrews 12: 1,2a-4)

What we see, read, or hear can generate a lot of anxiety and fear. For example, the struggle against a virus can become a battle against those who oppose our views on how to defeat it which can leave us rattled.

On a deeper level, we can engage in a war against laws opposing the right to life from conception to natural death, or we may fight against a pervasive way of life in a society that sees God as an obstacle in the pursuit of freedom and happiness.

These and other evils we see and read about are real and the effort to stop their influence and spread is necessary. However, this eager confrontation often leaves Jesus in the background or maybe absent as we engage our limited and weak human arsenal.

We can also lose sight of the greatest and most important battle which is within, not with what’s going on all around us. And that “around us” in our digital arena is all over the world.

Jesus tells us the greatest evils come from our hearts (Matt: 15). That should lead us away from those external enemies, things that drain us and leave us defeated.

Furthermore, St Ambrose (340-397) tells us, “Our own evil inclinations are far more dangerous than any external enemies.”

The letter to the Hebrews calls for focused attention on the war inside, comparing it to an athlete’s complete dedication to running a race or to use my preferred image, a hockey player’s all-consuming desire to bury the puck behind the goalie.

The Hebrew letter tells us to hold our eyes on Jesus who is our “leader and perfecter of faith.” As we read further the call becomes stronger, asking us to think about how Jesus “endured such opposition to sinners” so we don’t grow weary and discouraged.

The closing line shows us what kind of effort is needed: In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.

Hold your eyes on Jesus who faced our opponent, the greatest opponent to life, sin. He conquered it. Every year we enter the Paschal mystery to contemplate his defeat of the enemy. We should contemplate it every minute all the while abandoning our feeble will to Him.

St Jane Frances de Chantal: “Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to Him. That’s all the doing you have to worry about.” Feel free to substitute doing with battling.

Through prayer, especially before the Holy Eucharist, we can listen in silence to our Beloved Creator, merciful Father, and faithful Friend. He alone will take care of those enemies within, if we give him permission to rule our stubborn ego. When he comes to us, our eyes become fixed on Him, our hope, our all.

The leader and perfecter of faith draws us more and more to Himself, as we witness one by one the flight of the demons, lust, envy, pride, anger, etc.

He sends us out, gentle as doves, to conquer the chaos with the weapons of faith, hope, love, peace and unwavering trust in the One who will conquer his last enemy, death.

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A retired Catholic teacher with a freelance writing stint, I love playing the best game on earth, hockey, or paddling kayaks on a river, lake, or ocean. My home is in the heart of Christ, held in the arms of His Mother who accompanies me when I receive the Eucharist. My seven kids range from 21 to 38 years old.