Joy, Pass It Along
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Louis de Montfort Parish, Litchfield
December 17, 2017
Joy is not the same as pleasure which is a momentary feeling of satisfaction that comes from something external; a great meal, an unexpected gift, a romantic encounter. Joy is deeper, more spiritual and it bubbles up from within.  This Third Sunday of Advent traditionally has been known as Gaudete or Joy Sunday. Rose Vestments may be worn on this day, and on the mid-Sunday of Lent, to mark having passed the halfway point toward a great feast - the Incarnation or Birth of Jesus Christ!  All of our Scripture Readings stress Joy from the mind and heart to surround and guide us in our words and actions. The Prophet Isaiah talks about bringing glad tidings to the poor. Our Responsorial Psalm comes from the glorious joy prayer of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Magnificat; "My soul rejoices in the Lord." St. Paul in writing to the Thessalonians tells them to rejoice always for we have been redeemed by Jesus… and in all circumstances give thanks.  Our Gospel gives us the challenge to be people of light and joy in the name of Christ and to make straight the way of the Lord through our life!  It is our responsibility to remove the darkness, anger and judgmental spirit that keeps us from being joyful.  We cannot place the blame or responsibility on others!

Real Joy always wants to share! It belongs to the nature of joy to communicate itself to others and to invite others to take part in the gifts -of joy- we have received. In Advent we wait in joy for the gift of Christmas; the light, hope and love of New Life! However, this is a time when those who are lonely feel lonelier than during others periods of the year. During this time many people fall victim to great depression and are suicidal and need hospitalization. Those who have no hope feel more depressed in the Holiday Season. Remember a lonely moment or time in your life and how someone reached out in hope and joy? Now is your time and responsibility to offer hope and joy to another. Joy cannot be locked away in one's heart but is meant to be shared.

This is a week to live our connectedness just as the shepherds and animals in our nativity set wait with Mary and Joseph for the Messiah in hope and joy, so must we reach out to others. The Emmanuel, God-with-us, is coming but He has no favorites and comes to be in joy with all of us and calls us to be one. Remember the story of the old gram, who at various times has told each of her twenty-four grandchildren that they are her favorite. Now when they visit she's not always sure who they are. Now everyone is a stranger. Yet because of her love and joy that guided her life, everyone is her favorite - not just her grandchildren. Her love and joy is no longer reserved only for family because she knows, as she has always known, that everyone is family.  Joy, Pass It Along!

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What is Your Crack?
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Louis de Montfort Parish, Litchfield
December 10, 2017  
Leonard Cohen a noted musician in 2008 stated to his audience at a concert, "We're so privileged to gather in moments like this when so much of the world is plunged in darkness and chaos." Then he sang his well- known song, "Anthem," with its powerful refrain: "There is a crack in everything. … That's how the light gets in." Our Gospel this week from St. Mark gives us one of the chief Advent Characters in John the Baptist, who invites us to make straight the Lord's path. It would be impossible to make a straight path in the dark, but we can make straight paths in the light! Even if we can only bring a glimmer of light through our crack it is important to do so!  What interior work within yourself do you need to do to straighten out a few rocky paths or relationships and let the good light in? We ask the Lord for His kindness in the Responsorial Psalm. Are we willing to allow some of that kindness to show through our words and actions in the coming week? There's the difficult relative, neighbor or co-worker we have not spoken to in months. Perhaps we are grateful that we have not done the damage of reaction or retaliation but we need to try and put positive light on this person and push ourselves to be a peace maker.  It may mean looking for a new crack of entrance or a crack called forgiveness and understanding within us to share the Advent Light. Repent and ask for forgiveness from this person or in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and let the new light of peace and love come through the cracks of your life!

It is interesting that John the Baptist is our chief character in the Scriptures calling us to repent, forgive and straighten out the paths of our life. Yet, John the Baptist died for exposing the sins of others. Jesus died to actually pay for the sins of others! John was great but our model is Christ. So let's stop telling the world how their sins are and let's start sharing the light and love of the Father in word and deed with one another. Don't just light two candles on your Advent wreath this week. Place some candles about the house and as you reach out to mend and heal personal cracks and relationships light the Candle of Peace!  Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, states that we all must be missionary minded in word and deed and not live for self, but to go forth and do good. We all are to go forth and live Gospel Values in our own way and be, even in a little way, the light of Christ through the cracks of life!

Advent is the Season to prepare in a special way for the Emmanuel; the God-with-us. Slow Down and carry the light of love, forgiveness and the example of Jesus the Emmanuel into the cracks about you. We are all in such a rush driving so fast and having so much to do that we often live these days as if life was a high speed chase. Our readings this week, desire that we do some highway maintenance both within and through our actions to prepare our soul for the clearing it needs to accept the Christmas Child and to bring some light and healing to our dark world!  Get new eyes and a new heart today. Think about this story. A young girl shouted from the train window to her mom, "Look, Mom the trees are going behind." A couple sitting nearby watched the childish behavior with pity and when the girl yelled to her mom again, "Mom, the clouds are running with us!" The woman looked at the mother and said, "Please take you daughter to a good doctor." The mom smiled and said, "Oh, we just came from a hospital stay and my daughter was blind from birth and she got her eyes today." How big a crack do you think that couple looked to jump into?

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Rise Up and Come Lord!
Rev. Robert F. Tucker
St. Louis de Montfort Parish, Litchfield
December 3, 2017
This weekend the Christian Churches begin the Advent Season to prepare for the coming of Christmas and Jesus coming as the God-Man!  We call this the Incarnation, as God becomes one of us in all things but sin. It is the season to prepare our hearts and to strengthen our faith in the next four weeks to appreciate the belief that God so loves us that He sent His only Son to be one of us!  For centuries, as recorded in the Old Testament, the Chosen People waited for the Messiah or as stated in our second reading from 1 Corinthians, "We wait for the revelation of Our Lord Jesus Christ."  Our time of preparation for Christmas is to be ready for December 25th this year as a day of Love, Grace, New Life and external gifts of love! It is also a time to be aware that life is short and is a time of pilgrimage and not just meant to do what we want to do but to be watchful and prepare for whenever God would want to call us home.  With all the tragedies of this past year, we know that none of those people expected to die or end as they did, and yet they have been called home to the Lord.  So, we do not know the day or time and this is the season to prepare and rise up by prayer and action to be ready for the judgment of the Lord.

HOPE is the virtue to reflect upon and try to live each day in Advent. It is a hope that does not depend on our daily performance but the realization that we will rouse up our power and do well in all we are challenged to do and be - to allow our faith to be seen in action.  With all the Christmas Decorations up since early November it is now the time for the heart to heart decorations of hope and love to be put into action! There is a great story that can easily motivate us if we take the time to reflect upon it during this first week of Advent.  A hospital volunteer tutor was asked to visit a little fifth grader in his hospital room. No one had warned her that the student had been badly burned and was in great pain. Upset at the sight of the scars, she stammered as she said to the young patient and student. "I've been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs." She spent a half-hour teaching the student in bed feeling she did not accomplish much as the patient cried and whimpered so much during the session!  However, she persisted and returned the next day for her lesson. As she entered the room, the nurse asked her, "What did you do to that patient?" The teacher stricken began to apologize. The nurse stopped her and said, "No, No. You do not understand. The hospital staff has been so worried about the young patient but since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He is fighting back, responding to treatment. It's as though he's decided to live."  The tutor continued to do nouns and adverbs for the rest of the week. Over the weekend the nurse asked the boy to explain how come he had made a complete change when the tutor arrived and began to do nouns and adverbs. The boy responded with a simple answer. "The school would not have sent a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs, with a dying boy would they? So, I came to a simple realization and got new hope and got back to fifth grade life!"