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Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: March 30, 2015
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor preached the following homily at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock on Monday, March 30, 2015.
In 1991, I did the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola in the form of the 19th annotation Retreat in Daily Life. This Lent, I spent time each day reviewing what I had written in my journal 24 years ago and repeating those meditations, and I must confess that most of the things that were issues for me back then remain issues for me today — though I have grown somewhat in the meantime.
I had already memorized part of the principle insight underlying the exercises as a child: "Why did God make me? To know him, love him and serve him in this world so as to be happy with him in the next."
Through the exercises the Lord sought to teach me that I am only a steward of all the gifts and responsibilities he has entrusted to me, and that to be his faithful servant I must cultivate the virtue of indifference regarding my own preferences — wanting only whatever God wants, even when there is a price to be paid personally. That insight is rooted directly in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and as such is the foundation of any genuine Christian spirituality.
I remind myself of this whenever faithfulness to the Lord requires me to do things that are difficult or unpleasant: He's the only one I have to please.
I remind myself of this whenever faithfulness to the Lord requires me to do things that are difficult or unpleasant: He's the only one I have to please. I don't have to please anyone else, and of course not myself either. The same is true for you, my brother priests, as you shepherd the portion of the flock entrusted to your care. And also for all of you the laity who have gathered with us today to bless the oils that will be used for the celebration of the sacraments throughout the diocese this coming year. The only one you have to please is the Lord.
So as we proceed to the sacred triduum later this week, I invite you to reflect on how the specific details of Jesus' self-sacrificing faithfulness to the Father resonates with your own personal experience in your own lived reality. He was willing to do whatever God wanted, even though — as we see in his agony in the garden — it was definitely not what he preferred. Indeed, he was so terrified that he sweat blood! Have you ever been that frightened of having to do what God asked of you?
Yet because he knew God and that this is what God was asking of him, loved God completely, and so wanted to please him in all things, and sought with all his heart to serve him faithfully in all he did, in the way he lived and even in the way he died, Jesus has shown the way for us also to now take up our own cross and follow him — caring intensely about doing God's will in all things, and indifferent to anything else.