Letter from Fr. Keith (August 7)

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Dunstan’s,

During the Sundays of Ordinary Time, the first reading and the gospel are related to each other. This week, for example, we hear the story of God’s encounter with Elijah from the Old Testament first book of Kings (19: 9, 11-13), and the disciples’ experience of Jesus from Matthew’s account of the Good News (14:22-33).

What do they have in common? Many things. We’ll look briefly at one. In both cases, God is where they don’t expect God to be. The God of Power and Might and Glory takes Elijah by surprise when he reveals himself, not in earthquake or wind or fire, but in a sound of sheer silence. In the gospel, after feeding the multitudes with the loaves and the fishes, Jesus sends the disciples on ahead of him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (also called, in some gospel passages, the Lake of Gennesaret or the Sea of Tiberias), while he goes up the mountain to pray. A fierce storm comes up. Their boat is tossed about on the waves, and across the turmoil and chaos walks Jesus. So unanticipated his arrival, they are convinced he’s a ghost.

In our lives, we know the force of storm and upheaval, the fear of what it is to be battered about, as did the disciples. We’re familiar with the perception of either emptiness or calm Elijah knew atop Mount Horeb (also called, in some biblical stories, Mount Sinai) Where is it we would never expect God to be? Elijah and the disciples would encourage us to look for him precisely there. Just as he was in the supposed emptiness of silence as in the teeth of the booming gale, so is God with us in all the eventualities of our lives.

Whether recognized or unobserved, there he is. God’s presence doesn’t depend on our observation. Isn’t that profoundly comforting! God is with us in storm and in calm, even if we’re unaware. Ours is to pray for one another and for ourselves that we might have the grace to be alert of that saving gift when we most need courage and comfort and hope. Sometimes, we come to that awareness after the fact, when we look back on our lives. That, too, is for our encouragement. It was a core belief among the people of the Old Testament that as God had delivered them in the past—whether or not they knew it was happening at the time—so would he be faithful in the present moment as they moved toward a future, at one and the same time, uncertain and filled with hope. May ours be the grace to find and to share the same reassurance.

Summer is speeding by! We’ll not soon forget 2020. Looking back, we, like our Jewish forebears of Old Testament times, will discover where God’s saving presence has been: hidden—as is said—in plain sight.

In your prayer, please remember our First Communion children and families. As I mentioned last week, we’ll celebrate this important parish event Saturday at the 4 o’clock Mass. We’re now in the process of choosing a date for Confirmation. Kindly include those candidates and their families as you bring people before the Lord.

Registration for our weekday and weekend Masses is available through our parish website: www.stdunstanspei.com If you know someone who’d like to come, but has no access to a computer, maybe you could offer to register for them or provide them with one of these numbers: 902-367-7829, 902-892-9387, or 902-621-1988. These generous folks will happily compete the registration for anyone who’d like it done for them.

This week held a special delight for me. After almost five months, I was able to go into the PE Home, visit with Mom, and help her with her supper. For the past six weeks or so, our visits have been outside, maintaining physical distancing. She seems to have weathered the COVID storm well, thanks to the Home’s dedicated care-givers. Please continue to pray for Long Term Care residents, families, and staff, and for those charged with making decisions about the future direction of the support, respect, and gratitude owed our society’s precious elders.

May grace and peace be yours in abundance,

Fr. Keith

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