My brothers and sisters in Christ:1
Actually I was thinking that it’s special because tomorrow is the Solemnity of Pentecost. So somehow, maybe, you are going to have the Holy Spirit in a special way. Maybe you’re going to be great homilists, preachers — maybe you’re going to speak in tongues.
But it is beautiful that we have this celebration just as we prepare for the celebration of the Solemnity of Pentecost.
Here in the Archdiocese in the past several weeks we’ve had the blessing to ordain a new bishop, also to ordain new priests — we have six new priests for the Archdiocese — and now, today—we are ordaining new men for the permanent diaconate.
So, we need to begin by giving thanks to God for the blessing of all of these fine men he has called to the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
The permanent deacon is ordained to the ministry of service ofthe family of God. As we all know, the name “deacon” meansone who serves.
But all of us are called to serve the Lord.2 This is the meaning and mission of our Christian lives — to serve God and our brothers and sisters and to work to bring his Kingdom on earth.
In fact, we could say that the name “Christian” means one who serves. The divine words that we heard in the first reading are addressed to every Christian in Baptism:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you,
a prophet to the nations I appointed you.
We are here to serve, my dear brothers and sisters.
And from the beginning of the Church, our Lord has set apart some men for a sacred ministry of service to the family of God — to assist at his altar, to proclaim his Word, and to bring his love to the poor.
But the ministry of the deacon is so much more than a “job title,” or a “function” that they perform in the Church.
My dear brothers, today, by divine institution, you are given a new identity, a new sacred character.
Jesus Christ became the servant of all.3 And today you are called to follow in his footsteps. From this day forward, my dear brothers, you will live and serve — in persona Christi Servi —“in the person of Christ the Servant.”4
This is a noble and sacred calling that dates back to the earliest days of the Church. The second reading today describes how deacons were ordained to serve the first Christian community.
So my brothers, you are ordained to serve the Christian community in this time and place. You assume the place of St. Stephen and those first deacons. What a beautiful vocation!
Our Lord tells us in the Gospel today:
The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the Master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.
These words are especially addressed to you, my dear brothers.
Our Lord is sending you out into his “fields” — to carry his love and peace into every corner of the world, into every walk of life.
People are hungry to know what God is like, and where they can find him. They want to meet him and worship him, they want to know his plan for their lives.
So you are called to bring people to God. To the God who has a human face, the face of Jesus Christ —who dies and rises for us and now walks with us.
You are called to reveal Jesus to our people.
And as Jesus in humility washed the feet of his apostles, thedeacon is called to show us the way to imitate Christ in serving and defending the poor.
So I pray that in your ministry, you will let God’s light shine — in every broken place of the human heart, in every dark corner of our society. I pray that you help us to see that every act of love, every act of forgiveness, every good work — makes this world that much more a place of God’s presence and light.
My dear brothers and sisters, let us pray together for our new deacons, being ordained today to serve us.
And may our Blessed Mother Mary, to teach us all to respond to God’s calling in our lives with generous hearts — ready to carry out the mission he entrusts to us, to serve his beautiful plan of salvation.
1. Readings: Jer. 1:4-9; Acts 6:1-7; Luke 10:1-9.
2. Rom. 12:11.
3. Mark 9:35.
4. Phil. 2:7; Mark 10:45; Matt. 20:18l Catechism, 1570.