My dear parishioners,
First of all, thank you for the calls and emails. Father Dave and I remain healthy and both of us really appreciate the fact that you take the time to check up on us. We continue to pray for each of you and we miss you. We look forward to the day when we can celebrate Eucharist with you once again.
When you read this letter, we will have entered into our eighth week of lockdown and have realized that it is going to take considerable time and effort to recover from this pandemic. We must also acknowledge that not all of us are going to bounce back when this is all over.
These days of pandemic have left us injured. There are those who are seriously sick in our community who require proper care both at home and in hospital. We have good reason to be concerned about the physical and emotional well-being of all those who are caring for them. There are those who have succumbed to this illness and died. There are many, due to physical distancing, that cannot mourn in the way that offers us the support and comfort we desire and to which we have become accustomed. There are unemployed in our midst living with the fear that their workplace may not exist when this is over. Our relaxation and holidays have been transformed. Events that we regularly attend and places that we like to go are simply not available to us and it has become very difficult to even make plans. What was fun, what was nice, now becomes - maybe not. All of the things that we are experiencing now are having a profound effect on our physical, emotional and spiritual health. When even one of those components is out of whack, the others suffer.
One of the most popular images of Jesus is that of the Good Shepherd. There is an ancient image of Christ the Good Shepherd in the catacombs in Rome. In this particular rendition, the shepherd is strong and carries an injured animal on his shoulders. What an appropriate image in this time of pandemic! All of us at some level have been injured by these events in very many ways. Shepherds were people of the outdoors and they were responsible for the well being of their animals. They lived with the flock and kept their sheep healthy and safe from predators 24/7. Animals learned to trust them and to follow them. The animal had to know that there was a source of food and protection in this person. Jesus presents himself as this source of protection. He carries us when we are injured; he feeds us when we are hungry; he leads us to places that are safe and, most importantly, he knows our names. He calls us by name. The sound of his voice is strong but gentle. He is in charge and he will lead us to the place where we need to be.
The challenge for us is to quietly place ourselves in the presence of Jesus so that he can be what he needs to be for us. Turning to him, calling on his name, can be a genuine source of hope, wisdom and healing for us. Will it make all the bad stuff disappear? No, those things won't all go away at once. Life has to be dealt with – the good, the bad and the indifferent. Jesus equips us to deal with life wisely and leads us to put it into a much larger perspective. He reminds us that our lives are important to God and what happens to us matters to God. The wounds in his hands and feet remind us that he too has experienced suffering and loss. Jesus understands and walks with us in solidarity. When we are wounded, he carries us, just as the Good Shepherd carries the wounded sheep.
Easter is the time of new life and hope. There is the temptation to see these days as days of death and despair. The Good Shepherd asks us to recognize new life and hope in him. He is the perfect expression of God's goodness and endless love. May we call upon that in faith and continue to let God's glory be revealed in us.
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, though your people walk in the valley of darkness, no evil should they fear; for they follow in faith the call of the shepherd whom you have sent for their hope and strength. Attune our minds to the sound of his voice, lead our steps in the path he has shown, that we may know the strength of his outstretched arm and enjoy the light of your presence forever. Amen
** I invite you to visit our website at https://stanselmsto.archtoronto.org/ As of next Sunday, May 10th, we will resume with publishing the parish bulletin (online only at this time) which you may view by clicking on "Bulletin Library".
We will provide any updates that become available to us regarding Masses, sacraments, etc. Please check the website weekly. You may also contact us at anytime by phone at 416-485-1792 or email us at email@example.com