My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
To paraphrase Queen Elizabeth’s 1992 speech at Guildhall, last week was not a week “… on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.” All the California wildfire smoke that had overshadowed us for some reason seemed to take great delight in settling in my lungs and triggering the single worst asthma episode I’ve ever had in the 14 years since I was first diagnosed with it. Some may have wondered if I had been zapped by the coronavirus, but let me assure you that following an appointment with my cardiologist yesterday I have NOT contracted the virus. Because I’m still oftentimes short of breath and have some heart palpitations, my doctor has set me up for an echocardiogram to make sure all is well with my heart. In sharing all this, I just want all of you to know that I’m not at death’s door and am getting better each day. Even though it seems my progress is slower than I believe it should be, it is still progress, and for that I’m most thankful.
I can’t begin to sufficiently thank the number of you who sent cards and emails to reassure me of your care and prayers for my return to good health. Each and every one of them was a ray of sunshine during a rather difficult time, and I thank God for the joy that your care has brought to me.
Our community response to this weekend’s responsorial psalm (Psalm 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18, but please read the whole psalm) is, “The Lord is near to all who call upon him.” Those words of profound reassurance are most timely for the People of God today. One of the wonderful things that people have shared with me in their emails, cards and letters is that these days have been ones in which their commitment to their relationship with the Lord has deepened and become even more meaningful. Time after time they have written that because they can’t go out as freely as they used to, they have more time on their hands. What to do with it? They could certainly just have sat and fretted the time away. Some have torn into their homes and cleaned like they’ve never cleaned before! A few have been reading all those books that they’ve promised themselves they would read once they got the opportunity. Some have committed themselves to turning off the television and focusing their minds on more positive things than they are seeing there. But, more than anything, a number have shared that they are rediscovering the joy of their relationship with God through prayer. That’s why the response to this psalm is so inspiring and real to me today, and I believe its truth can be a real source of encouragement to all. In our renewed commitments to God, haven’t we come to realize that He has ever been close to us all throughout the months of our separation from each other? I know for myself that the realization that He is near every time I call upon Him has often calmed my spirit and helped me to patiently abide in His will. Don’t get me wrong; I’m as impatient as anybody to get going and be able to start phasing a gradual reopening of our parish to public worship even on a limited basis. But knowing God is near to us and is directing our path for our good has helped me to once again pray, “Your will be done.” This has helped to calm my impatience, knowing that when I accept His will and work within His timeframe, all will be well and all will work out for the best. So, today, once again, join me in calling upon Him from the depths of our hearts that He will once again come to us in personal ways to reassure us and strengthen us. He continues to fulfill the promise He made to us in John 14:18:
“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”
Trust in that! “The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
Please accept just these few lines for today. Again, I want to express my deepest thanksgiving for your presence in my life as well as for your ongoing prayers on my behalf. Be always assured of mine for you. Our days of separation will, I believe, be coming to an end, so let us look forward to them with gentle and patient expectation.
With joyful gratitude for our communion in Christ,