Dear People of St. Dunstan’s,
I hope this finds you adjusting to the way things now are without too much struggle. I say that well-knowing that most of us are not accustomed to having our moving-about curtailed. Though what the political and health officials are prescribing is for our personal benefit and the common good, it’s still a challenge. That these measures will help reduce the spread of infection and help us come out of our present situation as soon as is possible is a strong motivator for our sacrifice and support.
Our lives are often filled with distractions. When our activities are limited, those distractions are harder to come by. We may find our hearts and minds filled with feelings and thoughts unfamiliar to us, even troubling. In the midst of that, we might hear, “Be still, and know that I am God.” It could be an opportunity to let God lead us more deeply into our own hearts—that place within all of us where God abides. It can be a challenging place sometimes, but eventually we’ll find the risen Christ there, with the gift of the Spirit, like living water welling up inside of us, with healing and courage and wisdom and hope and peace.
The Gospel for this Fifth Sunday of Lent tells us the story of Lazarus, the friend of Jesus, the brother of Mary and Martha. We know how it goes. He gets sick, and before Jesus can get to him, Lazarus dies. His sisters and their friends and neighbours lead Jesus to the tomb, where Jesus, “greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved,” weeps for his friend and over the grieving of those who love him.
Then, he does something important for us to notice. He directs those around him to “take away the stone,” blocking the tomb’s entrance. “With a loud voice,” filled with the power of God, he cries, “Lazarus, come out!” Then, we’re told, Lazarus came out. The Gospel writer adds this significant detail, “…his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth.” Finally, also noteworthy, Jesus said to those gathered around, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
At his direction, the bystanders had helped prepare for Jesus’ action by removing the stone, and were called upon to help Lazarus begin to live the new life he had been given by untying the shackles of death that continued to stifle him.
Something for us to consider, friends, in this present moment, and in all the situations of our lives: In the mystery of what it is to live in a graced, but imperfect, world, all kinds of things happen that figuratively put us where Lazarus was. COVID-19 is one of them. Faith tells us that in the midst of it, Jesus is present, “greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved” by our concerns and fears, his weeping accompanying our tears. He helps us. In doing that, he calls upon us, the story of Lazarus teaches, both to prepare the way for his saving action, and to help each other to receive and to live what he gives. Depending on what’s going on within and around us, we are sometimes Lazarus—in need of being freed from whatever binds us and weighs us down—or a member of the community—helping another to live in the freedom that is God’s gift, in Christ, to his children.
This coming week, when someone reaches out to us, or we, to another, let’s remember the raising and unbinding of Lazarus, and how Jesus called people like you and me to participate in his life-restoring act.
As I mentioned last week, if you or anyone you know would like to be in contact with me, please call 902-894-3486. You may leave a message if I’m not here when you call, or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org The Knights of Columbus continue to extend their offer to be of service if anyone needs an errand run or some such thing. For this, please contact Don Chevarie 902-566-4337. Others have offered to be in telephone contact, if anyone would like someone from the parish to check in with them for a chat. For this, please contact me as above, and I’ll hand on the message.
Additionally, for those who would like to avail themselves of professional services, Community Mental Health is offering “call-in” clinics: Richmond Centre, 902-368-4430 Tuesday and Thursday, 10 am to 6 pm. McGill Centre, 902-368-4911, Monday, Saturday, and Sunday, 1 pm to 5 pm. The “Island Help Line” may be reached at 1-800-218-2885. Kid’s Help Phone is available at 1-800-668-6868.
To update you: our Soup Kitchen Meal went ahead, though not as we had planned. Because of the current situation, we took the food to them, with the poster the catechetics classes had signed. They prepared the meal and served it. Thanks to all who supplied food. We hope to do it again.
The church remains open for individual prayer during the day. Confessions are available downstairs at the regular times. A reminder of the Eastlink Channel 10 Mass Sunday’s at 9 am.
We look to the day when we will gather again for the worship of God. In the meantime, may we feel God’s presence ever-near, and walk in the light of faith, praying for each other, for all who are directly affected by the virus, and holding up in prayerful gratitude our health-care workers and the many others who continue to provide us with essential services.
I hope to continue posting these messages weekly on the parish website until the present situation is resolved. I pray for you every day, many times calling to mind names and faces from where you usually sit in church.
Peace be with you and yours,