Facing Obstacles Well
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Louis de Montfort Parish, Litchfield
September 23, 20l8
Most parents have expressions that they use often to teach a good lesson to their children and one of the most meaningful states, “Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.” That is surely applicable to us who are disciples of Jesus Christ and are to strive to live the example He has given us of being “the way, the truth, and the life.” The truth of that expression is at the heart of all real joy and true satisfaction in life.  To look forward and do all that we can in truth and love and do it well is the right direction for life.  We all know this statement is true when it comes to athletics. Doing well demands time, priority, effort, practice and commitment but this is true in all activities and relationships. We cannot be followers of Christ in “bits and pieces” but need to make our own real commitment each day to “Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.”

In today’s Gospel Jesus predicts, for the second time, the high price he will have to pay in order to be faithful to the mission that the Father has sent him to do.  The apostles on the other hand are busy trying to prove which of them is the greatest. This was not just a childish game they were playing. Their discussion had real practical implications. They did not understand what the Kingdom of God really is. They imagined it to be an earthly kingdom where they would each have a place of importance. They were in the process of figuring out who would have the highest position in that kingdom, and the next highest and so on.  Jesus’ response to them was very gentle, he used a simple expression of affection for a child. In that culture, children were loved but they had no social standing and no rights. He used the child as an example of humility, as the child was the lowest member of the human race on the social  ladder not like today when they seem to be at the TOP of the social ladder.  The apostles thought that the Kingdom Jesus was speaking about was concerning hierarchy and power. The Kingdom that Jesus wanted them to prepare for and lead was to thrive on kindness, openness, humility, and hearts that do not hunger for power but would rather sit and share and listen and love like a child. How easy it is to slide into a worldview in which honesty and influence mean more than attentiveness and kindness. Our challenge this week is to look at the best of teachers, nurses, doctors, fire fighters, police and people who support and care for children. We do not have to be great touting our importance and brilliance and our degrees and qualifications but rather to use them well at and in the service of all people.

You cannot shake hands with a closed fist.  You cannot reach out and care and share with others with arms folded on your chest in anger, frustration and power.  For a long time it may seem that life is about to begin and then some obstacle gets in the way be it physical, emotional or spiritual. Something that has to be gotten through first, some unfinished business and then life would begin. With time and faith, it slowly may dawn on you that these obstacles were life and it is the attitude and behavior at the way you face and try to handle and solve them that makes the real difference! Remember, “Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.”

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The Challenge of Faith
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Louis de Montfort Parish, Litchfield
The Challenge of Faith
September l6, 20l8
At the present time, our Church is confront the reality of suffering head on. Pain is the  way our bodies and spirits tells us that something is wrong.  The present suffering must be faced with complete honesty, integrity and responsibility and only then will the truth be in control.  As we dare to pray in Psalm ll6, “I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.” Our Bishops and Our Holy Father must take up their cross and put their faith, hope and love into action as our leaders!  The Prophet Isaiah accepts God’s call to prophecy,  but he suffers terribly at the hands of his persecutors. St. James insists that as Christians we are obligated to put our faith into action.  This means to St. James clothing and feeding the needy, and as a parish we strive to do that to live out Catholic Action and the Corporal Works of Mercy.  The words of Jesus are right on as He states, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” There are no excuses, no explanations or justifications or defense of an institution but the living and the acting on truth with honesty, integrity and responsibility.  Each person is responsible as a follower of Christ to imitate Christ – the Way, the Truth and the Light.

It is the basic belief of faith that what Isaiah states twice in our reading  is the truth, “The Lord God is my help.” But in what way? Isaiah does not turn to God in this passage to help in defeating his enemies. Nor does he look to God to put and end to his suffering, but Isaiah puts his face to the flint to accept it and to work with the abuse he receives. Jesus tries to prepare his disciples then and now for his death and even Peter does not accept the teaching of Jesus.  Jesus is reprimanding Peter and states, “Get behind me Satan.” Jesus knows that he is not the kind of Messiah that the disciples expect. They desired one who would lead the people to victory over the Roman government. Yet, Jesus is the one will suffer on behalf of the people.  Jesus will not flee the cross and temptation but will put up the challenge of faith and go to Calvary.  This is the challenge given to the leaders of our church at the present time, and to each of us.  What is the cross that I am bearing at this time in life and I must walk ahead with the grace of God and know I am not carrying it alone?

There are so many pain killers that can be taken and our present issue of opioid drugs as a panacea can lead to addictive issues and never face up to the real pain and issue that must be confronted. No one likes psychic or emotional pain but there is no easy solution for it but to face up to it and ask for the grace of God to help in bearing this cross. It is important in faith to know we are not alone in this pain, shock, outrage, disgrace but need to turn to the Lord. As we place all in His hands, He can assist us to face up to it and to put good works into the pain and suffering, and it will lead to new life.

Reflect on this little story, and eight year old boy went to a pet store to buy a puppy, the manager showed them little furry balls all huddled together.  The boy noticed one of litter all by itself over in a corner.  The boy asked, “why is that puppy all alone?”  “That puppy was born with a bad leg and will be crippled for life, we are going to have to put him to sleep” the manager stated.  The boy sadly began petting the little puppy and said, “you are going to kill him?”  The manager stated this puppy would never be able to run and play with a boy like you.  The little boy turned to his dad and said, “I want the puppy with the bad leg.”  The manager asked, “why do you want that one if you could have one of the healthy ones?”  The little boy bent down, pulled up his pants on his right leg and exposed a brace.  The little boy said, “Mister, I want this puppy because I understand what he is going through.”  That is the challenge for all of us this week to understand that all of us have a cross; and we need to be kind, understanding and reach out in love, and hope others will do the same for us.

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The Value of Imagination
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Louis de Montfort Parish, Litchfield
September 9, 20l8
Imagination is often accused of being out of touch with reality. In reality, imagination is the capacity to see beyond reality to an alternate reality! Imagination is the key to navigating, deciphering, and transcending the reality that meets the eye so that we can recognize unseen reality. Imagination is not foolishness. Albert Einstein asserted that “imagination is more important than knowledge”. A young mother asked  Einstein what should she read to her son so that he could grow up to be a brilliant thinker like him?; “Fairy Tales”.  Einstein stated to the woman as she gasped in unbelief and asked what next then, Einstein replied, “More fairy tales!” Einstein went on to state, “When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.”

Imagination is perhaps at the heart of the Gospel Message. Look at the imagination or faith of the people bringing the deaf and mute man to Jesus to be cured. These people quite possibly had heard the reading from Isaiah the prophet , our first reading, “the ears of those who are deaf will be cleaned and the tongue  of those who are mute will sing.”  Isaiah wrote and imagined or believed in the transformative power of God. God wants us to believe, as did the people bringing the deaf and mute man to Jesus that through  Jesus, God can remake the whole world! The need not only to imagine that Jesus can do all things in the name of His Father but has all power and compassion to act and challenges us to do the same. This Gospel of Mark, wants us to know that Jesus’ mission is to the whole world.  In this cure Jesus travels outside Jewish territory and performs miracles to and for all. There is no outside world for Jesus and there is not to be one for us, as Christians! Mark also, uses the word Ephphatha, the original Aramaic the language Jesus spoke to show Jesus wants us to be open to all regardless of the language they speak. To be open is a real challenge for most of us and all of us suffer from certain areas of our life where we close people off.  Imagination is to be a watch word for living our faith and putting that into action and being open to all!  In this Gospel, Jesus is not afraid to draw close and to actually engage when He heals. He puts his fingers in the man’s ears, spits and touches his tongue. How intimate and personal Jesus was to this stranger and yet Jesus tells him and the crowd to tell no one. The call of this Gospel is to open our spiritual ears, eyes and heart and do things well as imitators of Jesus Christ.  Even when it may not seem possible, all things are possible to those willing to act in faith and trust and the care and the love of the Lord.  Be Open to one new person this week.

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Law and Love
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St Louis de Montfort Parish, Litchfield
September 2, 2018
A woman was at the casino and was losing at the roulette wheel. When she was down to her last $10 dollars, she asked the fellow next to her for a good number. He suggested, “Why don’t you play your age?’ The woman appeared to agree and put her money on the table. The next thing the fellow who had given her the advice saw was a great commotion as the woman fainted and fell to the floor. The man rushed over to her and asked the attendant, “Did she win?” the attendant said, “No, she put $10 dollars on 29 and 49 came in.”  As we celebrate Labor Day this weekend and the beginning of a new school year we need to pay extra attention to our readings and what they are challenging us to be and to do!  The first two readings show us how our behavior shows others what kind of a person we really are. Jesus tries to teach us in the Gospel the importance of what we have in our hearts. He lets the Pharisees know they are hypocrites for too much concentrating on the external law and clean hands and not acting on having clean hearts!  St. James in the second reading exhorts his listeners and readers to put their beliefs into action.

We have been taught and told that God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God abides in Him.  These few words are at the heart of our Christian faith and our action. Our life should be described as honestly both personally and in a community-way, living the values of love for God and Neighbor. We learn more about another person by watching what they do than by listening to what they say!  St. James states, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only.” and care for the most vulnerable among you. Putting faith into action is the real law and the real act of love!  Avoid hypocrisy and live out the spirit of your faith in what you are and DO! As Catholics we are fortunate to have a God who comes to us in the Eucharist and lives and moves among us and is revealed to others as we strive to do His law of Love from the heart.

Jesus does not look for lip service but for heart-to-heart love for all.  Deeds speak for themselves. One of the key characteristics of successful people is how they view failure. Successful people rarely see failure as fatal; they see it as feedback. When they don’t get the desired results, they learn from the experience and try, try again. The most successful authors, inventors, saints, sport heroes and heroines have developed the ability to deal with massive amounts of rejection. High achievers rarely think of failure as an end in itself. Instead they believe in delayed success. A loser says, “I can’t do it,” while a winner says, “I can’t do it YET!!!!”