Letter from Fr. Keith (May 15)

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Dunstan’s,

While we celebrate the Easter season, the setting for this Sunday’s Gospel is the Upper Room on the night before Jesus died. After washing the feet of his disciples, as a foreshadowing of the supreme act of service on the following day’s Calvary, he says this, And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth…You know him because he abides in you and will be with you…

That Holy Spirit will be with the disciples, Jesus implies, as they witness the horrific events of the cross that Friday afternoon, will sustain them as they begin to grasp the reality of the Resurrection, and will be their guide as they carry the Good News out of Jerusalem, and beyond to the outermost regions of the world as they knew it.

In the mystery of, as the letter to the Hebrews describes, the living and active word of God, the promise of the Spirit to the disciples included more than the little band gathered around Jesus on the night before he died. It included all who have followed him over the millennia since. The promise includes us.

John’s Gospel closely associates Jesus’ death and resurrection with the pouring forth of the Spirit. John tells us that on the cross, Jesus “gave up his spirit.” Blood and water flowed from his pierced side. Spirit, blood, water: all signs of life, the Life of the Eternal God, coming forth from Jesus as he was “lifted up…to draw all people to [him]self.”

The season of Easter comes to its conclusion each year with the celebration of Pentecost, a word the signifies the Fiftieth day after Easter. Pentecost recalls the day when the disciples gathered, hearing the mighty wind and seeing tongues of flame, as the Spirit came afresh. That Spirit was present at creation, Genesis tells us: a wind hovering over the chaos, the breath of God, creating harmony and purpose. The same Spirit is ours in Baptism. Easter-Pentecost calls us to receive that Spirit anew. The Spirit is God’s gift when we celebrate the sacraments, the power of the Divine Life, transforming “what earth has given and human hands have made” into the saving presence of Jesus Christ. The Spirit lives in and among us, helping us recognize and respond to the awesome Mystery of God with wisdom and courage and strength and reverence, faith and hope and love.

The Advocate Jesus promised is with us this May of 2020, giving us what we need to live the reality of COVID-19—even if sometimes we falter in our response. The Spirit ignites in us the hope and love and courage to put aside our momentary preferences in the service of the needs of others, the common good. The Spirit gives us the patience to persevere. The Spirit breathes upon us the wisdom to discern God’s presence and care, helping humanity to bear the present burden, and to discover in the midst of our inconvenience—and in many cases—very real struggle and difficulty, the presence of God: soothing us, consoling us, challenging us, as we move through and eventually beyond this experience, discerning how it may teach us to build and live in a world more as God created it to be. Again looking back to Genesis, the same Spirit hovers over our present pandemic chaos fashioning order and purpose and healing and hope, revealing to us and through us the power of the Cross and Resurrection. That great Mystery, as with the Mystery of the Spirit, could never be confined to one time and one place. New life in Christ is for us to receive and to live and to share every day in whatever circumstances we may find ourselves—including this one.

This week in our province, spring is beginning to peak out from behind winter’s curtain. The onions I recently planted in my little—and I mean little—garden are peeking through. The garlic, in the ground since last fall, is already about eight inches high. I planted lettuce a couple of evenings ago, and will continue to exercise my farmer’s streak, maybe even later today.

We continue to see a gradual lifting of restrictions, some ahead of schedule. We have reason both for hope and for renewed commitment to live responsibly, respecting the lives of our brothers and sisters, who depend on our good will and informed judgment to support their wellbeing.

Let us continue to pray for the many people and situations that call for our intercession. For farmers and fishers as their season begins. For the sick and their families. For those who have died. Remember those whose work is in our service—in stores and shops, in hospitals and long-term care homes and laboratories, in legislatures and on the roads. Especially this week, pray for all who feel stressed and pressured by our current circumstances, and for those who are victimized in any way.

We plan to livestream our Mass from SDU Place this Sunday morning at 10:30. We had some technical problems last week, and hope they have been resolved. We’re learning as we go, and like the Spirit’s action in our lives, it’s not always smooth and predictable. Follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1105224579859526/

If I can be of help, please let me know. 902-894-3486  or frkeithstdunstans@gmail.com

My prayer is with you every day. As I pray the Mass, I continue to let my imagination wander around the church, recalling you to heart and mind. I appreciate your prayer for me. Get out when you can for some air and exercise!

Peace be with you,

Fr. Keith


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