My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and especially you, my dear brothers who are about to be ordained,1
This is our second “outdoor ordination,” and the first time for us celebrating the ordination of permanent deacons here in the plaza outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
I was telling the priests that were ordained, two weeks ago, that they were the priests of the pandemia. So, you are the deacons of the pandemia.
So, it is a special blessing in these challenging times, to be here in this kind of nice weather — a little warm and humid. But the most important thing is that we are here for the celebration of your ordination.
For all of us here, and for all of you joining our celebration through the Internet and social media, this is a special moment.
Congratulations to you and your families, my dear brothers. Today you will join that ancient ministry of service, today you will be ordained as deacons in the household of God.
As we heard in that second reading today, the role of the deacon is essential to the life of the Church.
Ordination does not mean you get a new job. Ordination makes you a new creation. Jeremiah tells you today in the first reading:
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.
When the Lord sets a man apart to serve, the Lord sets a seal upon the man’s heart. This is your destiny, my brothers — to serve the Lord, to be his deacon.
The deacon is a prophet. He is sent out to tell the truth about God, to tell the world the good news about his love, about his promise of salvation.
The service of the deacon helps people to find God, to see their lives in the light of the beautiful truths that God has revealed to us in the love of Jesus Christ.
And my brothers, I don’t need to tell you — the Church needs your witness today in an urgent way. You are being ordained to serve in a Church and in a world that has been devastated by a great plague, this pandemic of the coronavirus.
You are called at this moment in history, in this time of trial when there is so much sadness and uncertainty.
And my dear brothers and sisters, I want to share with you that this uncertainty might be the most disturbing thing about this moment we are living in. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know what our parishes are going to look like, what our society will look like. We don’t know when the “new normal” will come.
But the Lord Jesus Christ is telling you today in that first reading. “Do not be afraid … for I am with you to deliver you.”
That’s a beautiful promise to all of us. Tt’s also the message that we need to bring to our people. Hope in the Lord’s promises. Hope in his protection. Hope in his love.
In our parishes, in our families, in our ministries — we all have to be a sign of God’s tender mercies. And by the way we serve, we will help people to know that God still cares. That the Lord is still with us, and that he will never leave us.
This is the special calling for the deacon in this pandemic moment. To bring hope. To help people to be less afraid of the uncertainty. So my brothers, by your service you can really help people to learn to trust God again. To trust in his providence, to trust in his plan for our world and our lives.
In the Gospel today, Jesus describes himself as a Master who comes to serve his own servants at the table in his own household.
The deacon serves as Jesus serves. The deacon’s service is humble, just like our Lord’s. The deacon’s service is often hidden. The deacon serves, not to get the glory for himself, but to give the glory to God.
So serve and give and love. And then do it all over again. This is the beautiful description of the deacon’s life. To serve, to give, and to love.
My dear brothers and sisters, it is also a beautiful description of our Christian vocation. When we give everything for the love of God, when we serve him with all our heart, we will have everything we need in life.
My dear brothers, we are almost ready now for the laying on of hands and the invocation of the Holy Spirit that will ordain you as deacons. And Jesus is telling you, each one of you: “Be like servants who await their Master’s return.”
We wait for the Master, by doing what we see the Master doing.
That is my prayer for you each one of you today, my dear brothers. In your ministry, may you will always serve as the Master serves.
So let us go to the intercession of Mary, our Blessed Mother, as today we celebrate the Feast of. The Queenship of the Mary. May she help all of us in the Church to have a heart that serves Jesus, as our Master serves.
1. Readings: Jer. 1:4-9; Acts 6:1-6; Luke 12:35-44.