Crippled by EFE
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Anthony of Padua, Litchfield
March 26, 2017
Are you crippled by the EFE disease?  It won't work…. I'm afraid to fail… there's not enough money; it's not meant to happen…it takes too much time. Excuses, Excuses, the ability to Excuse for Everything! Some excuses come disguised as perfectly rational, realistic and innocent thoughts to help us feel better about our behavior and let us give into our feelings and emotions. They do not prevent us from doing what we really want to do but keep us from growing up, or getting out of the box or leaving a problem, doubt or fear. They basically keep us down and in a place that we do not necessarily want to be. But, we must admit we all have an incredible ability to justify why we can't do something. Our reservoir of reasons for NO or excuses for not trying can be endless!  Even the example in the Gospel of today and whose fault or sin is it that the man is blind?  Perhaps no one is to blame but that difficult situations are present for us to grow from or out of. The man's blindness is cured, but the blindness of those who won't believe in Jesus remains.  How often do you grope, stumble and not walk assured of your direction and need to stop and pray and get your direction from Jesus. NO EXCUSES JUST STOP AND PRAY. That is the point of Lent to pray and let the light of the Lord in - to make us better persons and not use emotional excuses for not growing!

Whenever we step out into the light from a dark place, it takes our eyes a while to adjust and really see what is around us. That is the real lesson of today's readings, it takes time. We need to be patient and trust in the Lord and maybe walk slowly in our darkness or our early morning or evening light but no excuses WALK.  To pray in Psalm 23, "The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want." These are not just nice emotional words to make God happy, but to move us to trust and act in the Lord! We are to rise up from the dead and be children of light with patience and persistence to gain new insight and sight from the Lord Jesus. We also make many excuses because we mainly see the physical and not the spiritual or the heart. We often suffer from spiritual or heart-blindness and that leads to our making excuses. It may take prayer and time to ask for conversion and forgiveness to allow the light of others into our lives and to trust them. We, not they, need to be OPEN. We may need to shed some of what we have by our almsgiving and sacrifice. Openness takes time and the ability not to make excuses, but to be vulnerable.
This may be the week to grow up and not walk as a 2 or 3 year older who has learned to say NO. This is the time not to push for control, my way and jealousy, but to allow YES to come forth and the light of Yes to guide, direct and light our way out of blindness into a new Christian journey.

*****************
Dropping Things for the Lord
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Anthony of Padua, Litchfield
March 19, 2017
Water is the primary symbol in all three readings this Third Sunday of Lent. Moses and the people in the desert long for water in the first reading from Exodus. It is here that Moses struck the rock and water flowed from it. However Moses did not trust the Lord.  He hit the rock a second time.  Therefore the Israelites had to wander in the desert.  St. Paul in writing to the Romans describes the love of God that has been poured out into our hearts.  While it is in our hearts, that love of God, we are challenged in Lent to make active in word and deed.  In the Gospel we read of the woman at the well being given water by Jesus after she asked him, "Sir, give me water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming back here to draw water."  Jesus begins with his own physical thirst and ends up talking about the woman's thirst. He crosses the boundaries to deal with a Samaritan!  With the waters of Baptism, Jesus strikes our hardened hearts to go and live the Beatitudes. In this Gospel, Jesus bestows His grace on this woman to go and become a source of grace to others. She is a model for us to go out and share our faith each day of Lent to refresh and renew our life and our world. This is the reason for taking time to read, reflect and act on the Lenten booklet, we gave you titled, "Refresh and Renew Your Life." This is also the reason that at the conclusion of some Masses following the Blessing, the Priest says, "Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord."

We are told in part of this Gospel that the Samaritan woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She dropped everything to do the will of Jesus. Dropping everything is a familiar and compelling expression and a Lenten challenge. When was the last time you dropped anything for God, never mind everything? If you can't remember then try it as a Lenten Practice this day! I think we expect children to do or have this experience much more frequently than adults. Perhaps it is because they are vulnerable and open to the wonder of more new experiences than most adults.  We are more like the couple that had reached an age where the wife thought it was time to start considering wills and funeral arrangements rather than be caught unprepared. Her husband however wasn't too interested in the topic. When she kept asking and questioning him about would he prefer to be buried or cremated? Eventually, he put the paper down and said, "Surprise me!"  This is about the easiest way out for most of us to let someone else do it and surprise us!

On Monday, we celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus and spouse of Mary. He was indeed a man who dropped everything to do the will of the Lord. He dropped his principles to marry a woman with child! He then took her to his home city and could not find a dwelling for her and his child to be born and dropped his desires and had to settle for a stable. Then, an angel appears and tells him to take the child and Mary and flee into Egypt- a lot of dropping of everything!  Joseph loved outside the box of self-interest, control and power and went the extra mile to protect, nurture and believed in active love for another.  Delay some earthly gratification this week and use the discipline of dropping a few things to be open to prayer, fasting and almsgiving!   May the silent "yes" of Joseph to the Lord strengthen us to drop some earthly things and act on the will of the Lord!

*****************
Foundations of Hope
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Anthony of Padua, Litchfield
March 12, 2017  
Pope Leo the Great states, the Transfiguration was for the purpose of removing the scandal of the cross from the hearts of the disciples. It was also Christ laying the foundation of hope for the Church.   All of us have been given the hope of eternal life and the promise of redemption, but it requires work, conversion, and picking up our cross each day. Discipleship is not easy, and requires at times that we swallow our pride, our wants and our desires and place them with love in the hands of God and Neighbor. Lent is listening to the voice of God FIRST and living and acting on it FIRST and then doing the human tasks that direct our lives.  Lent challenges us to be like Abraham in the first reading and be obedient to the will of God and Abraham's greatness will come later.  Jesus' glory prefigured in his Transfiguration was to destroy death and bring life and immortality for all.   Both men listened and trusted in the Father's voice and so must we listen in prayer during this Lenten Season. This is a week of quiet prayer and an openness to listen to the Lord, not to tell Him what we want.  This could be the most difficult of weeks for it is never easy to listen without a positive defense or offensive position for self.  God only asks us to hope and listen.  

As we approach the Feast of St. Patrick we might realize, "that the country of Ireland and life are similar for Ireland, for good or evil, is like no other place under Heaven and no man can touch its sod or breathe its air without becoming better or worse," so states George Bernard Shaw. How true that is of life also! In Lent it is the good and the better of the statement that we need to seek. We need to "go forth" from our comfort zone and as Peter, James and John were told to go forth so must we with a new vision of the Lord and the challenge to act and live in hope.  No flaming chariot will deliver Jesus as it did Elijah but Jesus will go forth pick up His Cross and give us the example and hope to move in faith!  To listen and act in union with Jesus is good and better and we need build no tent as Peter desired for Jesus, Moses and Elijah for they will live in our hearts.  Jesus is the living tent within that feeds and nourishes us to be the best but we have to allow Him IN!  Just as Peter, James and John had to come down from the mountain and face reality. As Day Light Savings Time begins, so we have more light and day to share our faith, hope and love and to listen to the beginnings of Spring.  Change is never easy as it shakes us from our complacency and asks us to examine our lives, patterns and habits and alter our actions. Are you willing to change from and in the heart by trusting and acting more in faith?  Try to live more in hope this week as it is stated, to live in Ireland the inevitable never happens and the unexpected constantly occurs.  May it be so for YE!

*****************
Kinship in Lent
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Anthony of Padua, Litchfield
March 5, 2017
St. Mother Therese of Calcutta diagnosed the world's ills in this way: "we've forgotten that we belong to each other."  Lent is that time when we refuse to let that happen and make KINSHIP our goal. Kinship is what happens when we refuse to let that happen as we live the example of Jesus in word and deed.  Jesus was not a man for others; he was one with them! There is a world of difference in that statement!  His vision of family was to include the fishermen, tax collector, widows, children, blind, mute and even shepherds!  Jesus had a kinship with all manner of people and even had them at the same table!  Our prayer, fasting and almsgiving in Lent are to make us One with All. We are then to be freed for and to live and act in love or kinship!  This is the season to begin!

The First Reading from Genesis reminds us that original sin is PRIDE! That is trying to equate ourselves with God and by failing to listen and act on the word of God, to LOVE. We listen to the serpent fall into shame and fear of one another and fail at kinship. St. Paul in writing to the Romans tells us that Jesus is the New Adam who can undo the pride of original sin by His obedience to the Father's will and taking up the Cross for all of us. It is in knowing we are Christians and living in and with Jesus that we can have the dignity to know we are all sons and daughter of His and must act in that way.  The Gospel of Matthew has Jesus leaving His Baptism and going out into the desert for 40 days. Here he is presented with three temptations seeking to manifest His divinity, but Jesus rebukes the devil. His fidelity to His Father allows Him to demonstrate that it is not good intentions but serious work, determination and choice to be an imitator of Jesus. Hunger, lust and enticement to power and a pretentious life are all still out there for us in the forms of addictions, anger, loneliness, and judgment to prohibit us from living the example of a loving and caring God. Can you reject the lies and deception of the evil one and trust in the Lord? That is the kinship, choice and call of this Lenten Season.

Remember these two stories as you walk through this week of Lent. A family went into New York City for a day and encountered a homeless man. The parent's first instinct was to clutch their kids a little closer and walk quickly by. But their kindergartner seeing this type of man for the first time and encountering a needy individual had a different instinct and looking up at her mom and dad asked, "Can I give him my allowance?" This is what Jesus is trying to engender in us this Lent. Or the young boy on the train for the first time with his dad is told by his dad to tell the conductor he is 10 when he comes to check their tickets as it is half-price for 10 and under. The conductor approaches and asks the boy, "How old are you?" The boy says 10, Sir." The conductor asks, "And when will you be 11?" The boy responds, "When I get off this train!"  Be who you are and be your best in truth, care and love and KINSHIP will be alive in and through you this Lent!