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Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: October 24, 2014
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor preached the following homily at the Mass celebrating the 120th anniversary of Immaculate Conception Church in Blytheville, on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014.
Today we are gathered to celebrate the 120th anniversary of your parish and wouldn't you know it, the Scripture readings for today are very challenging. Jesus has just used a series of parables to describe his second coming and now he takes his listeners to task. He notes that they are pretty good at interpreting the signs of impending changes in the weather (just like many of us who can feel it in our bones) but are incapable of interpreting the signs of God's will regarding the Messiah.
They see and hear Jesus, but they don't recognize that in him a new age has dawned. Their salvation depends on whether they choose for him or against him, and each person will have to live with the eternal consequences of that choice — keeping in mind especially that we will all one day have to appear before the judgment seat of God.
In this regard, Jesus says that we are like people on the verge of being dragged into court to face an accuser and we'd better work out a deal with that accuser before the case comes before the judge. Once his sentence has been handed down, there's no going back. Jesus' point here is that we'd better get right with God and with others while there's still time so that the just Judge will find us reconciled and at peace, and therefore judge in our favor.
This parish is to be a place of peace and harmony, a place of faith, a place of hope as we look to the future, and always a place of love.
I think what this has to say to us as we celebrate your 120th anniversary is obvious: this parish is to be a place of peace and harmony, a place of faith, a place of hope as we look to the future, and always a place of love. Your fellow citizens here in Blytheville should be able to look at Immaculate Conception Church and find in you an effective means of reading the signs of God's will for our times.
They should see in you concrete evidence that in Jesus a new age has dawned. That in this community they can encounter Jesus' mercy and find healing, meaning and purpose in the values of the Kingdom of God which he came to proclaim and evident in the way you live your lives.
Of course, it is possible to be raised in the faith, belong to a parish and even donate in the collection without really having given your heart to Jesus. And so Jesus' warning is for us as well: our salvation depends on whether we decide for him or against him, and no one can make that choice for us.
God has no grandchildren, only sons and daughters who themselves have made a personal choice to welcome him into their lives and make his values, his truths, his goodness their own. If you've not done this yet, the time to do so is now ... before it's too late, because the negative consequences of alienation from God are not limited to this life. If you are far from the Lord at this point in your life, you know it deep down. Come to Jesus. He will get you back on the right path, the positive consequences of which are not just eternal. You'll begin to experience the joy of life in the Kingdom of God right away!