He Shepherds All
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Louis de Montfort Parish, Litchfield
July 22, 2018
A friend of mine was so allergic to so many things- cats, dogs, so many animals, nuts and fruits that he did not even let some of his friends in his house. But he so wanted an elegant parrot and checked with many doctors and found that he was probably not allergic to them and so he went and for $l,000 purchased a parrot in a pet shop. However, after a few days he discovered that he was allergic to the parrot and phoned the pet shop manager to arrange to return the parrot. The manager replied that he would be happy to give him $700 for the parrot. My friend stated, “I paid $1,000 for this parrot just a few days ago.  The manager of the pet store said, “Yes, but now it’s a used parrot.”

We are all used but to the Good Shepherd we are all loved and desired. Jesus yearns for our prayers and actions in His name, as the Good Shepherd. All our readings today reveal and confirm God’s desire to be shepherd for all of us to care, protect, feed, nurture, love and comfort us.  God promises to provide shepherds for all people, as is stated in Jeremiah chapter 23. It is no coincidence that perhaps the favorite prayer of the Lord to hear and for us to pray is our Responsorial Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.”  As the Good Shepherd, Jesus through the words of St. Paul to the Ephesians preaches peace for those who are near and those who are far off. It is this gift of peace that gathers all as one. Thus, it is important that we be brothers and sisters to all and that we know our neighbor next door or even in front or back of us in Church and learn more about all people for we are to be ONE in the Lord.  Realizing that it is not all actions that will bring this unity and peace, Jesus calls His disciples aside to rest a while. He wants us all to be shepherds for one another but we need to be refreshed and prepared to do this work and thus we come weekly to be fed and nourished at the altar. We do not get bungee cords at church for faith encourages a leap of faith without the cord and done in our trust in Jesus. This time of quiet prayer of praise to the Good Shepherd and prayer for self and others is as important as actions done for another.  This time of prayer may give us the motivation to act in the name of Christ.

A little girl asked her mom how she can love, help and offer peace to all. Her mom gave her a story about being in a grocery store with empty bags for the groceries. A woman on an aisle drops a bag of oranges spilling them everywhere. You just don’t push ahead around her but stop and help her pick up the oranges and even offer her a bag.  Everything you just did makes this upset woman your neighbor and you gave her comfort, peace, understanding and even love. Giving the woman what she needed at a difficult moment, your time, picking up oranges and an offer of a bag helps make peace and a new neighbor in love and faith. In all you did you saw or acted as Jesus desires in being a Good Shepherd and stopping and offering yourself even in such a little way . When people need something, and we give it to them, we find a neighbor and act as a good shepherd and are actively working for peace and love among all.     

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The Best is often INVISIBLE
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Louis de Montfort Parish, Litchfield
July 15, 20l8
As a priest and teacher, I often wonder whether anyone is really listening or are they just hearing what I am saying and waiting impatiently for me to be quiet. Sometimes, I wonder when I look out at the faces of the people do they even understand what I am saying or asking them to be or do? The glazed over eyes, the scarcely conceded yawns, the quiet coughing and fidgeting all the signs I note of the people in front of me as not listening!  Yet, as I talk to parents, teachers, doctors, lawyers it seems that we all have the same fear or wonder, are they grasping what I hope they are listening to for their own good?  What we need to do with patience, calmness, understanding is just put the Good News out there with as much conviction, energy and passion as possible and TRUST.  The hope that the Responsorial  Psalm  will be true for us must be our focus, “Lord, let us see your kindness and grant us your salvation.”

St. Mark’s Gospel this week has Jesus beginning to send them out to imply that He will continue to do so and He does so up to today. We are all called to use our talents, time and gifts generously and unselfishly in being Christ bearers to the world.  Jesus also tells His disciples and us to travel lightly wearing the clothes on our back and permitted to have a staff and sandals. They and we do not need a lot of stuff because they and we need to learn to depend on the Lord and He will provide the basics of food and lodging that we need.  The lesson of this Gospel passage is not how much stuff we have but how much stuff fills our calendars! We often keep ourselves so busy that we have little time to pray, act in faith or just relax in the Lord. In your to do list this week leave space and time just to be and be open to the Lord and to His will.

A mother recognized the sound of silence and what that could mean to a three year older. She walked around and suddenly spotted her superhero sitting on the dining room table surrounded by a smear of school glue, paper, scissors and crayons from older siblings.  She screamed his name and rushed toward the little demon who had finally broken the camel’s back of her tolerance. As she was about to grab him, he handed her a piece of red construction paper, crudely pasted on a doily with the letter “I” and “U” with a heart in  between. I love you Mommy, he said. She grabbed him and hugged him and pulled him off the dining room table and said I love you too.  The best is often invisible or takes a lot of time to be noticed and so it is with listening and sharing and living faith!

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Hometown Hero
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Louis de Montfort Parish, Litchfield
July 8, 20l8
People who know us or have known us see us in specific contexts; as youngsters, schoolmates, neighbors, friends, enemies, bullies, winners or losers, jocks or non etc, etc. They have catalogued information about us and put us automatically in certain categories. Jesus was not immune to this sort of day- to day assessment and categorization. Such thinking limited what Jesus could or would do in his hometown area or others perceptions of what He could or would do are threatened. So, too, hometown area  people - do- wellers or gooders - have to be ready to accept the limitations others remember or have concerning you and your possibilities!  Jesus and anyone of us can be amazed at their unbelief  in Him or in us.  This may also limit the potential good one does or one’s ability to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit for everyone. Hence Jesus leaves and challenges others to leave their hometown and follow His example and bring out the faith of others who are open and willing to believe.  Do not be afraid! Open the door to the Lord and the Gospel of Jesus Christ by your word and act.

“Where did this man get all this?... is he not the carpenter’s son?”  Because of their lack of faith and their questioning of who He was, Jesus did little in this area.  We all tend to judge and estimate a person’s ability or aptitude.  We are often amazed how certain people can have a profession or a career or list such degrees and strengths.  We would never believe them capable of such a position in life.  Jesus is looking out for our strengths and not at our weaknesses.  Jesus sees our potential and our possibilities, not in a hometown critical way but as a loving God.  Jesus is hoping that we will be open to see, do and live as faith-filled people.  We show that faith in how we live with the good and the bad, the joys and suffering, the successes and the failures, the understandings and the confusions and doubts. This leads to the rainbows of life that only come after the storms.  Jesus was not concerned about what others thought but that He was doing the Father’s will.  This is the same challenge that comes to us as we dare to pray the Lord’s Prayer, “they will be done.”  Thus, will we be judged by the Lord.  

Think about the story of how Sam and his wife Sara were always holding hands at Church and it made the pastor and all the people so happy to see such a loving couple. After Mass, one Sunday as they were filing out the door the pastor said to them. “It sure does my heart good and that of so many of our congregation to see such loving people as you two holding hands through the whole Mass. It is such an inspiration to all of us.” Sarah replied to the pastor. “Father, it’s the only way I can keep him from cracking his knuckles during the Mass.”  Mysterious strength shown in one’s weakness in one small deed of holding hands to a whole congregation! Sometimes we have to be weak enough to just act in the right way that may cause confusion and false judgment to others. Take the final words of the “Suscipe” prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola, “Give me only your love and your grace. With these I will be rich enough and will desire nothing more.” These are the true riches of a faithful disciple of Christ and a real hometown hero!

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Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness
Rev. Robert F Tucker
St. Louis de Montfort Parish, Litchfield
July 1, 2018
This week we Americans celebrate the Fourth of July!  This is a day to show our national awareness and gratitude for freedom and independence in America. We should also thank God, as in some way we dare to do in our Responsorial Psalm, “I will praise you Lord for you have rescued me.”  Indeed the Lord has done that for all of us both individually and as a nation. Our first reading from the Book of Wisdom reminds us that God is first and always a God of life.  Our second reading from 2 Corinthians speaks of the self-emptying love of Jesus as a model and motive for generosity. As a Christian nation that is the daily challenge for all of us to give and share and not just be takers or expect to receive. The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights which among there are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These are all points stressed above as we begin this new month and pray in preparation for Independence Day.  

We sing or listen to the singing of “God Bless America” as we ask God to help us live and work for these freedoms for all people. We might reflect on the farewell Address of George Washington, Father of Our Country as he states, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports……reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” For those of us who both believe in God and try like the two miracles in the Gospel to put that belief into action we need to never be afraid, just have faith. He tells the woman her faith has saved her and the father of the 12 year old girl she is alive and tells the girl; arise and she sat up full of life.  Ours is a God of life, a God of surprises who is light and life for the darkness of our world!

This is a good week to realize the words of Pope St. John Paul II that are real now and forever on independence as we wrote, “Freedom is not the ability to do anything we want, whenever we want. Rather, freedom is the ability to live responsibly the truth of our relationship with God and one another.”  Time, Responsibility and Relationships change but not life, liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Think about the new professional baseball player just before a game was in the corner of the dugout and seemed depressed. Two team mates were talking about him and another team mate walked up and they asked that teammate why this new player was so depressed. He said, “You haven’t heard? It’s because his father is always writing him for money.”