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May 15
Make a Joyful Noise That Breaks Through the Isolation
This reflection is by Fr. Michael McGourty, pastor of St. Peter’s Parish in Toronto.

Many pastors in the archdiocese are making an effort to call their parishioners during the COVID-19 lockdown. This week, after a few weeks of calls, I finally made it through all 412 pages of the St. Peter’s parish directory!

In my conversations with these parishioners, I was struck by the efforts that so many people were making to maintain a physical distance from their loved ones in order to keep them safe. This was particularly true last weekend as we celebrated Mother’s Day. Many people said they were planning on doing something for their mothers that would show their love, while somehow keeping a distance. 

This is something that many people are doing, as they leave groceries on a front step, wave through a window to a loved one in a nursing home or send a virtual hug and kiss over the internet. We are keeping away from our loved ones because this is the loving thing to do at this time – this is how we keep them safe.

Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, recently made this point in a video conference with the priests of the archdiocese. In this video conference, the Cardinal reminded the archdiocese’s priests that we are not gathering with our communities at this time to celebrate the Eucharist so we might be faithful to Christ’s commandment to love one another. 

When we love people, we do nothing to harm them. 

Today, we are asked to maintain a distance and find other ways to express our love. But this time of isolation has left many people feeling alone and abandoned. And so often when people are sick or in need, we want to stand at their side, as we see in today’s first reading, where Philip goes to cure the sick people of Samaria. 

Many people feel alone in these times, but the Gospel reminds us that we are never left alone by Christ: “I will not leave you orphaned, I am coming to you.” 

As we remain apart out of love for one another, God is present to each one of us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

We are called to “Live the Gospel” through our parishes and archdiocese. Our support for others is now to be done by prayer, acts of charity at a distance or, if possible, through gifts to organizations that help those in need. 

We are just concluding ShareLife Week. The theme of ShareLife is “Living the Gospel,” which ShareLife does by funding so many organizations that continue to care for those in need during this pandemic. 

And the St. Vincent de Paul Society continues its good work by mailing food vouchers to our neighbours in need. The St. Vincent de Paul Society has also provided me with bagged meals that I can give to those without enough to eat who come to the parish doors. 

Please, if you are able at this time, remember the needs of ShareLife, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and your parish. The need is greater now than ever.

While calling my parishioners, so many of them brought up on their own that they have their donations at home and they will bring them to the church when it re-opens. ShareLife, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the parish need your support now so we can continue to serve you and the needs of so many. If you are able to do so, please consider mailing your donations, dropping them off at the parish or donating through the archdiocesan website

Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel that He is with all those who keep His commandments. His greatest commandments are that we love the Lord our God with all our heart and our neighbour as ourselves. While this love calls us now to keep apart, it still calls us to love God, our parish communities and those who are in need. 

There are many ways that we can show our love to those in need. During this pandemic people have been banging pots and honking their horns to show their support for the health care workers. I thought of this as I read today’s psalm response: “Make a joyful noise to God, all the Earth.” I myself have taken to sending sung greetings to a few priest friends who celebrated the anniversary of their ordination this month. They have told me that I do not have the voice for such greetings and asked me to refrain from doing this again. 

However, there are other ways that we can use our voices to break through the isolation we are facing at this time. We can always lift our voices to God in prayer and know that He is always with us and never leaves us orphans. 

This is a time to call friends and loved ones and let them know that we are thinking of them. Small gestures mean so much at this time: Grocery shopping for a senior; mowing a neighbour’s lawn; or just waving to others from across the street. 

Please think of ways that you can make a joyful noise that helps you break the isolation.

Christ’s promise that He will never leave us orphans is extremely comforting during this time of isolation. Let us help others to feel this presence by our prayers, acts of charity and support for our own parish community and ShareLife.

This reflection is based upon the readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter: Acts: 5-5-8; 1 Peter 3:15-18; and John 14: 15-21.

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