Letter from Fr. Keith (May 8)

May 8, 2020

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Dunstan’s,

We are about to enter our third month of responding to COVID-19. This week, we have heard that all 27 cases of the illness in our province are considered to have recovered. We’ve also been advised that some restrictions are being relaxed ahead of schedule. That renews our hope as we continue to act responsibly. Islanders are to be commended, we’re told, for taking the situation seriously and accepting in good faith the limitations imposed on us for the sake of the common good. Let’s resolve to maintain our efforts in anticipation of the day when the virus’ impact will be a memory.

As the Easter season continues to unfold, we hear this Sunday in our Second Reading from the first letter of St. Peter. Scripture scholars tell us that this New Testament epistle may have originated as an Easter-time homily from the first century after the death and resurrection of Jesus. If you’d like, find this reading in your missal or in your Bible: 1 Peter 2:4-9.

From that inspired work we hear these words: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner.” Some translations use the term “cornerstone.” This quotation is taken from Psalm 118 and Isaiah 8. It’s a good example of the early Christians taking a passage from the Old Testament to teach something about Jesus.

Jesus both forms the foundation and holds together the structure of what 1 Peter calls “the spiritual house,” the People of God, the Church, all of us together in Christ. In spite of that reality, Jesus was not only cast aside; he was put to death. He is the stone, stumbled over and rejected, who became the cornerstone.

Does that still go on: in our own lives, in the life of the world? Moving out from the example of Jesus, what or who do we—individually, locally, globally—dismiss out of hand, that, all the while, has the potential to serve an essential purpose, to be a foundation for something good and necessary and life-giving? Maybe it’s a feature of our personality or something from our history, or in the bigger picture, some world event or some group?

COVID-19 might give us something to think about in relation to those biblical words. Of course, no-one wants it. It’s horrid, spewing havoc. The day it’s banished from our midst will be a day of celebration and joy! At the same time, does it give us—as individuals, as families, as faith communities, as a global family—an opportunity to learn some important lessons? Have we discovered anything about ourselves from the isolation and physical distancing of the past two months? What might the pandemic teach nations about the importance of their cooperating for the betterment of the world? What does it say about who is essential to the proper functioning of society? How does it instruct as to the value of our senior population, and the dignity of where and how people live when they are no longer able to care for themselves? How can we use the current difficult, disrupting experience as the cornerstone of building a deeper way of seeing the world, and living responsibly and compassionately and joyfully in it?

God did not send this coronavirus. Such trauma is not what God is about. At the same time, God is in the midst of it with us. It’s our present reality, the present reality, a news report yesterday related, of every country on the planet. God works today, friends, not in how we’d like things to be or pretend them to be. God works in the way things are. The Spirit of the risen Jesus acts in the here and now—in our personal lives, in the life of the world. That’s why it’s always in our best interest and for the collective good to seize the moment to search for grace, and the direction in which that ever-living, ever-loving presence of God points us. The very reality we would never have chosen has the potential to become the cornerstone of a future in which we would all like to live. It’s for us—at all levels of society—to be open to the inspiration empowering us together—through, with, and in Christ—to bring it about. In the mystery of God’s loving providence, all things, the letter to the Romans teaches us, have the potential for good.

Please continue to pray for Nova Scotia: this week, again, hit with tragedy. Pray for our front-line workers in hospitals and long-term care homes, in stores and repair shops, on the highways. Pray for medical researchers. Pray for our political leaders. Pray for those who find it difficult to live according to public health directives. Pray for homes and families. Pray for those affected and afflicted by the virus, and for those who have died. Pray for engaged couples, postponing their marriages because of the infection. Pray for each other that we may use our here and now reality to its very best, graced advantage. And, yes, on this second Sunday of May, pray for mothers—living and gone before us—expectant mothers, and for those many women who nurture children—tiny and grown—not their own.

Once again, we plan to live stream Mass this Sunday at 10:30 from SDU Place. Here’s the link:  https://www.facebook.com/events/174833937124690/. Some technological changes were made last week to improve the sound quality. Thanks to all involved in this outreach.

My prayer is with you and yours every day. Be in touch if I can be of help.

Let’s bring this to a close, giving the last word to the first letter of Peter: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you might proclaim the mighty works of him who called you out of darkness into his own wonderful light.” May we support one another, my friends, to live that reality from one day to the next, for the glory of God, for our own true and lasting good, for the salvation of the world.

Peace be with you,

Fr. Keith


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