Diaconate Ordination Homily

This homily was given by Bishop Paul S. Loverde June 2 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More during the Mass of Ordination for Deacons. The scene so clearly depicted in today’s Gospel is being relived this morning through the Sacred Liturgy of Ordination to the Diaconate. The Lord Jesus continues to see in our day what He saw nearly 2,000 years ago as He "toured all the towns and villages" of Palestine. He sees people "lying prostrate from exhaustion, like sheep without a shepherd." His compassion for His People is no less now than what it was then, so He says to us: "The harvest is good, but the laborers are scarce, so ask the harvest master to send out laborers to gather his harvest." And His Church has listened to His voice. We who form the Church continually lift up our voices in prayer: "Yes, Lord, send us laborers!" The Church of Arlington has been praying and today an answer to that prayer is visible and tangible. Within moments, four men will be ordained for service as deacons with the goal of being ordained later as priests. Indeed, the Divine Harvest Master is consecrating them through the laying on of hands so that they may labor in His harvest, proclaiming by the witness of their lives as well as by the clarity of their preaching: "The Kingdom of heaven has come near." Sisters and Brothers, consider with me now the ministry to which these men are to be promoted. Like the Levites in the Old Testament, "they have been set aside … as dedicated to [the Lord]." Drawing new strength from the gift of the Holy Spirit, they will help the bishop and his body of priests as ministers of the Word, of the altar and of charity. As a minister of the Word, each of them, at the bishop’s discretion, will bring God’s Living Word to believer and unbeliever alike, preside over public prayer, baptize, assist at marriages and bless them, give viaticum to the sick and lead the rites of burial. As a minister of the altar, each of them will proclaim the Gospel, prepare the sacrifice and give the Lord’s body and blood to the community of believers. Moreover, once they are consecrated by the laying on of hands that comes to us from the apostles and are bound more closely to the altar, each will become a minister of charity in the name of the bishop or the pastor. Indeed, they must make themselves servants to all. From the way they go about these duties, may you recognize them as disciples of Jesus, who came to serve, not to be served. My sons, Edward, Jerome, Keith and Michael, you are being raised to the order of deacons. As deacons, you will serve Jesus Christ and the people to whom you are sent in His name. Diakonia — Service: this will be a primary characteristic of your life now as deacons and later as priests. Serving others — yes, a truly noble ideal, but it is tested in the experience of daily life where the call to serve is often inconvenient and the people to be served are sometimes unlike what we expect them to be. Our one and only model — yours and mine — is Christ Jesus, who was known among His disciples as the one who served others. At the Last Supper, He washed the feet of His disciples in humble service and then said to them — and to us: "What I have done, you must also do." With His example before you and His Spirit within you, do the will of God generously. Serve God and the members of the human family in love and in joy. Look upon all unchastity and avarice as worship of false gods; the words of Jesus remain true: "You cannot serve two masters." Today’s Second Reading from the Book of Acts recalls for us that the apostles chose "seven men acknowledged to be deeply spiritual and prudent" for works of charity. Like them, be filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit. Be firmly rooted in faith, a true minister of Christ and of God’s mysteries. Never turn away from the hope which the Gospel offers: from now on, you must not only listen to God’s Word but preach it. Hold the mystery of faith with a clean conscience. Express in action what you proclaim by word of mouth. Then, the people of God, brought to life by the Spirit, will be an offering God accepts. Finally, on the last day, when you go to meet the Lord, you will hear Him say: "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord."

Copyright ?2001 Arlington Catholic Herald.  All rights reserved.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2001