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Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: April 1, 2017
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor preached the following homily at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Rogers on Saturday, April 1, 2017. Similar Masses will be celebrated at St. John Catholic Center in Little Rock on June 4, 2017 and Blessed John Newman University Parish in Jonesboro on June 24, 2017.
Every year we have a special Mass to give me the opportunity to thank you deacons and wives for your faithful service year — in and year out — in your parishes and in the other apostolates to which I have assigned you.
I thank you in my own name and in the name of the people you serve. Except this year we have three such Masses in Rogers, Little Rock and in Jonesboro. The advantage is that many more of you deacons and wives are able to attend, and some family members as well.
The disadvantage, of course, is that by dividing you into three groups we miss out on seeing just how many deacons we have serving in Arkansas and what a blessing the diaconate is for our diocese statewide.
In addition to giving me an opportunity to thank you, this Mass is also for the purpose of giving you the opportunity to renew your commitment as a deacon — sort of like priests do at the Chrism Mass, putting you back in touch with the Lord's call in your life and your generous response to that call.
But of course, in addition to giving me an opportunity to thank you, this Mass is also for the purpose of giving you the opportunity to renew your commitment as a deacon — sort of like priests do at the Chrism Mass, putting you back in touch with the Lord's call in your life and your generous response to that call.
A response that involved setting out on a journey with the Lord that would change your life, your marriage and your family forever. When we respond to the Lord's invitation to share in his ministry, our hearts are filled with new meaning and purpose.
We dream of the good we will be able to do and how our lives spent in his service can have such a positive impact on the lives of so many. And all of this is true — you've experienced it!
However, faithful diaconal service also involves embracing the cross. Otherwise the love you invest in your ministry would not be sacrificial. I'm sure many of you can list a series of moments in ministry when your share in the cross of Jesus Christ became very real. Times when your efforts were misunderstood, misconstrued or even made fun of. Times when you preached a truth that angered some of the congregation.
Moments when you and your pastor didn't see eye to eye. Times when you had to deal with some unpleasantness or tragedy in your own family, and needed to allow others to minister to you as you bore a cross that was personal rather than ministerial. And of course these crosses can become very discouraging if we lose sight of the Lord and his presence right there by our side.
So I'd like to take this opportunity to remind you that Jesus often works most powerfully through us in our moments of weakness and our times of trouble — that was certainly the case in his life!
That's the mystery of the cross. Jesus didn't just say, "Follow me." He said, "Take up your cross and follow me" ... and it is by so doing that we have a share in his victory. And therefore, it is by so doing that our efforts will bear lasting fruit.
Sometimes fruit that we will never live to see. Just like you and I owe a debt of gratitude to those who served us in the past, but never lived to see the kind of person we would later become.
So I thank you for your service. I pray for you especially when you face challenges in your ministry and in your personal life. And together we lift up our prayers for our retired deacons and wives, and especially for those who have already gone to their eternal reward. May God give them — and you — the reward of your goodness!