Love Is the Bond
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Anthony of Padua, Litchfield
May 21, 2017  
The beauty of May is that all is now blossoming and indeed the Responsorial Psalm is in full union with the earth as it states, "Let all the earth cry out to God with joy." Our challenge is to do the same in word and deed and share the joy of spring and the beauty of May. The People of Samaria in our first reading were filled with the courage of the Holy Spirit and the works of Philip and others amazed the crowds and many came to believe in Jesus.  In 1 Peter, St. Peter continues to preach to the early church with fervor and zeal to encourage them to act on their faith each day.  As Christ suffered so too will we, but as we pick up our cross and follow we do so with hope and trust in the Risen Lord We are to trust in Jesus as mentioned in the Gospel of John that Jesus loves us and will send the Holy Spirit upon us to gift us with all we need to imitate Him.  In these final days of May, take some time to reflect on the life of the Virgin Mary and see how she acted on the will of the Lord in her silent and trusting faith and hope. She knew that Love was the bond and she had it with the Lord. She knew that as God was always in her heart, so she was in the heart of the Lord at all times.  No matter where we are or travel we must also act and believe that we are in the heart of the Lord and He is there for us in LOVE!

Jesus dares to state that he no longer calls us slaves or servants but friends, and what friends are for, but to give and receive love? God may not be able to fix our problems or issues - just like we may not be able to help others - but we can sit with and pray for others and thus we are helping them!  In faith, hope and love there is a simple plan for loving and caring for others.  It is called the SOS Plan of LOVE.  Show up and do not abandon others when they need you just BE THERE. Presence is important and is an SOS response. Offer Support and let them know you ache with them and cry with them and hurt with them. Then, look for little ways to assist like driving them, or making a simple meal or walking their dog or going shopping. Say little. Listen without offering advice and let them talk and talk or just sit lovingly in silence. Avoid giving unsolicited solutions or saying silly things. Just be quiet and let God speak heart to heart. Pain lessens when friends rally around and we need in the name of the Risen Lord to be that friend always. Practice the SOS plan of love each day in the coming week.

When you feel alone or wonder if you have the courage to reach out, look to Jesus on the Crucifix! Here He is as high priest and intercessor with arms outstretched between heaven and earth as the in between person for all. It is not easy to be the in-between person as we would like to be the healer but sometimes we just need to be present. Jesus states, "The ones you have given me….are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine." Our Easter hope and love must not be eclipsed by pain, doubt, disappointment or fears, but allow the abiding presence of the Lord in to your heart. It is in the heart to heart living in faith that we have the courage to be an SOS friend in Love!  Be like the politically correct golf club that no longer refers to their golfers as having a handicap. Instead now the state that are members are stroke challenged!

*****************
Planting the Seeds of Love
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Anthony of Padua, Litchfield
May 14, 2017
Our Scriptures for this weekend focus on listening, learning, following and acting on the Risen Lord, Jesus. All we have to do is focus on knowing and believing in Him and we will find and have the way to eternal life. It will not be easy to do but we have first learned in the lap and at the knees of a woman, Our Mother.  Most of us were graced to have a mom who taught by speaking, repeating, repeating and showing us by example how best to act. If it was not a mom then a foster mom, an aunt, gram or a neighbor who taught and showed that a mother's love is forever - just like God's love for each one of us. Two short lines from the Book of Proverbs give us direction and trust as we read, "She opened her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart: and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." A mom who speaks and acts like these words of proverbs holds her children's hands for a while, their hearts forever as she lives and plants the seeds of eternal love!!  It is by our active love as brothers and sisters for one another that others will know we are followers and believers in the Risen Lord Jesus!

In our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the early church community sorted out a big issue as they listened and worked at living the words of the Gospel of John, "I am the way and the truth and the life."  A dispute in the early church breaks out over the care of widows and the preaching of the word. The Holy Spirit helps the community resolve its difficulties so that even deeper unity develops - even as a healthy diversity flourishes.  Just like any person or family, diverging perspectives can lead to disputes until we realize and use each person's talents and abilities wisely as does the mom in a family. This is the season to open the value of who you really are and make changes and improvements. Update yourself by upgrading all your best qualities that make you uniquely you. Come out into this Spring and Easter Light and appreciate the person God created you to be - YOURSELF!- because everyone else is already taken!! How often did the mom in your life just teach you and say be the best person you can be and let others do the same and all will be well? How is it that those words seem so simple and yet get so lost in our need to be in control and power?

Jesus exhorts us to sow seeds of love, mercy, forgiveness and understanding every day and thus carry on His Mission.  Jesus simply shows a simple message, "Do as I so and say what I say!"  Jesus is always there and we are to remain faithful to planting New Easter seeds of love and hope in the light of positive thinking each day.

*****************
Who Walks With You?
Rev. Robert F. Tucker,
St. Anthony of Padua, Litchfield
April 30, 2017
Hospital regulations require a wheel chair for patients being discharged. However, one morning a student nurse fond an elderly gentleman already dressed and sitting on the bed with a suitcase at his feet. He insisted he didn't need her help to leave the hospital. After a serious chat about hospital rules being rules, he reluctantly let the student nurse wheel him to the elevator. On the way down in the elevator, the student asked him if his wife was meeting him. The elderly man stated, "I don't know. She's still upstairs in the bathroom changing out of her hospital gown."  Our Gospel is the Emmaus Story of the men walking away from Jerusalem and picking over the story as they knew it. So it was that Jesus found them and began to walk with them. Jesus found them where they were and He does the same for each one of us, if we but allow Him. There are no regulations to His friendship and desire to be with us. It is only LOVE, PEACE and MERCY that He wants us to know!  We come to this Eucharistic Banquet to break bread and to know Him and to receive Him and to take Him into our troubled world.  We have been changed by our belief in Easter New Life and now we need to talk and share that life with each other and come out of the bathroom and be alive in the Lord!  Our need for weekly Mass is to have our eyes and heart opened by the breaking of the bread as we walk up together to receive Communion and walk back as One People united in One Christ!  Our challenge then is to make sure we walk in faith, or even take the elevator, with faith in the Risen Lord.

In the Eucharist we continue to encounter the very same Jesus who preached in ancient Palestine. The Emmaus story highlights the significance of the details of Jesus' passion, death and resurrection. It assures its hearers that these events were in line with Old Testament expectations. It highlights the centrality of the Eucharist as Jesus Among Us. Jesus speaks to the men on the way to Emmaus and also speaks to us, if we stop and listen to Him and let Him talk and walk with us!  Have you heard, in this Gospel of Luke the very same words that Jesus used at the Last Supper? As He now sits with them to take bread and says the blessing and breaks bread and gives it to them; the very same words as we hear at each Mass!  Jesus comes down upon the gift of bread and wine and changes it into His own BODY and BLOOD. This is called TRANSUBSTANTIATION! - Or called the Mystery of Bread and wine becoming in faith the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.   The challenge for us is the same as it was for these men on the road to Emmaus to know that, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?" We do not need a wheelchair to get out of Mass and to go and share the Good News!  We do need a greater faith in the belief that Jesus indeed desires to walk with us and be one with us in being better Christians.   Even to stop and think that we are having the same experience as these early disciples and encountering the Risen Lord and now should go Forth Living the Gospel Message is the challenge of this week's Scripture!  We are blessed not to have to walk alone but as part of a Church community willing to make the Risen Lord known and active in our world.

*****************
Mercy Beyond Measure
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Anthony of Padua, Litchfield
April 23, 2017  
A man stated to his friend, "I think my wages are frozen. When I opened my pay envelope, a little light went on."  This is Mercy Sunday, the First Sunday after Easter and a little light should go on and off in our minds and hearts as we hear again the story of the Risen Lord appearing to the disciples behind locked doors. Are the doors of my heart locked? Do I fear that Jesus might show up and visit me and I am afraid that my well-ordered ways will be turned upside down? Remember the seven deadliest words are, "We have always done it this way." I can then dig in my heels, fold my arms and refuse to budge for this is the way!  Yet, Jesus comes through locked doors and states "Peace, be with you." Jesus then sends them out to offer MERCY and FORGIVENESS.

The picture of Jesus as Divine Mercy shown by the Lord to St. Faustina shows rays of light and love coming forth from the Risen Lord to be shared and shown to ALL.  They were not to be frozen and kept for the future but given now. Our First Reading, from the Acts of the Apostles gives us beautiful glimpses of the life style of the earliest Christians. They lived a shared life, devoted to the Lord and each other. They were joyful witnesses of the teaching and example of the Risen Lord. They had chosen the better path and are offering in word and deed the inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading! We are to share the light and love gained through our Lenten sacrifices and now strengthened by the Easter Peace of Jesus to be daily lived in word and deed.  Because of our faith and hope in Eternal Life we can take the risk of changing, growing and giving more peace, mercy and love as it has been freely given to us. We can transform the world by these gifts, if we just refocus, recharge and redirect our mercy and love outward and not inward and let the light shine forth for all.  Easter needs to matter not in a word but in actions done in mercy and peace in the name of the Risen Lord, Jesus.

Easter Peace and Mercy may be beyond any measure we might expect. Remember the story this week about a man who answered his doorbell, and a friend walked in, followed by a very large dog. As they began talking, the dog knocked over a lamp, jumped on the sofa with his muddy paws and began chewing a pillow. The outraged householder, unable to contain himself any longer, burst out, "Can't you control your dog better?' The friend yelled back, "My dog! I thought it was your dog!" Go, the extra measure of mercy; dog or no dog!

*****************
HE HAS RISEN!  ALLELUIA
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Anthony of Padua, Litchfield
EASTER  ~ April 16, 2017
Jesus the Lamb of God has Risen as He said. Easter is all about new life not on this planet, even though the young bunnies are the first to signify spring or the young chickies to let us know life has come from the shell. Easter celebrates a love for Jesus that has been increased by our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Now the challenge is to make Him ever more visible in our world by acting Christ-Like! Perhaps the statement, "Get off that cross, we need that wood," pertains to all of our negatives that keep us from being Alleluia People.  Peter tells us in the first reading that the disciples and each one of us is to go and preach in the name of Jesus. We are to live in renewed sincerity, truth and faith allowing God to be alive in all the new acts of spring 2017.  If you doubt your ability to do so, reflect on the story of a man and his wife who were on vacation in Georgia. They settled into a pew near the front of the church on Easter. The usher came up to them, tapped on the pew and said, "This pew is saved." The husband looked up and smiled at the usher and replied, "That's OK, So are we!"

Easter is the great occasion to put our pain, doubts and sufferings in the Lamb of God and march forward as new people in the Lord.  It is the day to know that we have all betrayed Jesus, ourselves and others for thirty pieces of silver. By Jesus' passion, death and rising we have been given another chance. We have all slipped down the slippery slope of corruption but TODAY we hear His voice and rejoice in the hope of new life and heaven.  Today, is the challenge to ask ourselves and then to go forth and live the answer. Is our Christianity, present tense, past tense or pretense!?  It is the day to remove at least one rock from our heart and let new love enter in! It is the chance to forgive, forget and act with the peace that Jesus challenges us to know and to be in word and deed not just present or pretense but actually in all our choice to be with JOY a true Alleluia Person!

The Gospel of St. John gives us a brief glimpse of the potential of allowing our own love for Jesus to guide us to an ever deeper faith in Him. This Gospel gives us three different possibilities of how to understand and live the Easter Message.  We can come to Church and then like Mary Magdalene, run away in fear and sorrow as she did from the empty tomb.  St. Peter comes and he too is unable to understand what has occurred but he quietly waits, prays and listens. The Beloved Disciple, St. John because of his love for Jesus his eyes are open to the possibility of the resurrection that Jesus has so often spoken about to the disciples. John looks and sees that the physical body of Jesus is no longer present and immediately concludes that Jesus has been raised from the dead as He said.  John freely chooses to believe. Our coming together is to rejoice and celebrate the new life of Easter and believe and act like we are saved. Our Easter faith must lead us daily to choose the ways of God over the allures of this earth. Let the new yeast of spring 2017 grow in us and help us bring the bread  of truth, mercy, peace, joy and love alive in all we say and do. Just as at a Veteran's graveside service, the recording was to play TAPS at the end of the service.  However when the soldier pushed the recording machine on it played Reveille instead.  The Priest quickly commented, "That is a most appropriate call for an EASTER CHRISTIAN!"

*****************
DARK WORDS IN HOLY WEEK
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Anthony of Padua, Litchfield
April 9, 2017  
Cher belts out in a favorite song, "If I could turn back time, WORDS are like weapons; they wound sometimes."  Words carry a great deal of power. We all know how words wound or kill our spirit and destroy any enthusiasm and can linger in pain in our hearts for years.  Negative comments or even no words from those we love and so desire recognition from, unravel all self-confidence. Rumors, vicious or otherwise, derail reputation and hurt for months. Slander, gossip, criticism cut us to the deep!  The Gospel of Matthew 26, The Passion of Jesus for this Palm Sunday, cuts into our minds, hearts and spirit as we hear and contemplate the story of our Lord's suffering and death. The Responsorial Psalm that we pray together is to make us all aware of how much the words and actions of all killed Jesus, as we dare to pray, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"  What great anguish and yet the psalm goes on to express hope in God's never failing love. Jesus wants us to know and his disciples at the time, that while the situation looks terribly dark and desperate the Father in heaven will use these tragic words and events as a pathway to the salvation of all mankind.

Yearly, the Church has us read the entire Passion on Palm Sunday to realize how fast the glory words disappear and the ugly dark words and actions take over. In Jesus we see our God made visible in His complete and total gift of self and love to the Father for all mankind.  He relinquishes all marks of divine glory to become one of us in the darkest of times - to be a light!  ALL the dark words and actions Jesus endured for us so we might pick up our cross in this final week called HOLY and live out our faith.  It is no coincidence that Jesus calls on His disciples to imitate Him and to hope and trust more deeply this week in God's love for us. None of us want pain, darkness, passion and death but as Jesus did not cling to his own divine rights but took on human appearance and assumed human nature even to the horror of the Passion and Crucifixion to prove how deeply the Father longed for humanity's salvation. This is the week to be more careful of your dark words and actions and not lay any heavy burdens on another. Take this week to watch your words and not cross boundaries of care, love, compassion and concern or to at least reach out as a healer.

Make a real effort to put your hand over your mouth and count to ten before you inflict pain or grief and do so in the great belief of an afterlife in the Light of the Risen Lord. Remember the story about a woman, who was concerned about her husband's lack of spiritual life and went and talked to her Priest to help her get her husband back to church for Easter? The pastor asked her, "Does your husband believe in life after death?" The woman laughed and said, "Hah! My husband, doesn't believe even in life after supper!"

*****************
American Idol, That's All Folks
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Anthony of Padua, Litchfield
April 2, 2017
How many have been influenced by the television show American Idol? We are lucky as a State to have a recent winner. Many young singers, dancers and actors watching this show hope to become a superstar. On television, fame looks so inviting and celebrity easy to acquire. All you have to do is wow the crowd for five minutes; then you can float away on the applause forever, or so it seems! It seems to be part of our culture to believe that being worshipped for a few minutes or having momentary success or victory is a career of approval. Jesus was not in a state of self-delusion or being an "American Idol" as he calls forth his friend Lazarus from the dead.  Jesus as a man of integrity, industry, faithfulness and honesty prays to the Father, "Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here, I have said this that they may believe that you sent me." Jesus then, cried out, "Lazarus, come out." The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands and his face was wrapped in a cloth. Lazarus' attire here is significant; when we hear the story of Jesus' own empty tomb at Easter. On Easter, we will read and hear that the burial cloths were left behind and the cloth over the face was rolled up in a separate place. Lazarus had been resuscitated or risen from the dead but would die again. Jesus was raised and entered the fullness of his glorified life never to be touched again by death.

The Readings are given to us to challenge us to know that our faith is never in vain. We have hope and trust not in an American Idol but in the Lord Himself. In the First Reading, Ezekiel speaks figuratively that the Lord will open your graves and we dare to pray in the Psalm Response, "With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption." We can have that hope for the life-giving Spirit dwells in us in the virtues of integrity, industry, faithfulness and honesty as they did in Jesus. As we begin these final weeks of Lent, called Passiontide, we are challenged to untie ourselves and assist one another in removing the bondages that prevent us from living lives of faith, hope and love. We are to work for the qualities of integrity, industry, faithfulness and honesty this week. We are to walk in mutual service and love for one another as we strive to bring out the Jesus and new life in each other. It is also our challenge to believe that Jesus loves us as much as He did Lazarus. See and believe that no matter what sin binds you or what deadly stench holds you, Jesus calls out to you "Come Out!"  The Sacrament of Reconciliation or just to stop and pray for forgiveness and new life and let yourself be untied and let go to move forward. Lent is the time of movement in love and truth, not in American Idols.

Take time this week to let integrity, industry, faithfulness and honesty grow in and through you. Let these be the American Idol Qualities of success now and for the future. Believe and act like our God is a life giving God and challenges us to believe and act in this way. Mel Blanc, the voice of Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, and other cartoon characters a real man of l0, 000 voices chose the three words that came at the end of those cartoons. "That's all folks." But that's NOT all for believers in the Resurrection!