My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
As I said before, today is a day of great joy for the family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as we come to the ordination of the new deacons.
My brothers, today you join the holy order of the Permanent Diaconate. Today you become men who are called to live in the service of God and in the service of the children of God.
Our lives, as we know, are a calling from God.
Every soul is called by God. None of us would be here — we would not have been born — unless God called us into existence.
These words that we hear in the first reading are addressed to every one of us:
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.
Every life has a purpose in God’s plan. We are all here for a reason. Our Lord calls every one of us into being from his very heart.
And Our Lord invites us to answer his call with our whole heart, with our whole life. This is the truth for all of us. God always makes the first move. He comes to meet us. He calls us to seek him, to reach out to him.
But Our Lord calls some men to deeper service to his Church, to share more completely in his plan of salvation.
Today, my brothers, Jesus calls you to “belong to him” in a unique way. To be anointed by him — to share in his own anointing.
Today, you will be joined to that great chain of deacons, all those ministers who have served God’s people from the beginning.
Our second reading this morning describes the first ordination of permanent deacons. As we just heard, they are men “filled with faith” and “wisdom.” And they are anointed to serve the whole community of faith in a special way.
This is your identity now, my dear brothers. In accepting his ordination today, you are putting yourselves in the service of Our Lord’s grand plan for salvation.
God wants to heal us and save us, he wants to show us his great love for us. This is why Jesus was sent into the world. Today, my brothers, you are making your lives a part of this great story of God’s love.
God calls you today because he wants you, because he needs you. He calls you to place your life in his hands. To trust him completely.
So, God is calling you today to serve all of us and to be a witness to all of us that our Christian faith means living in the service of love.
The great truth is this — love is service and service is love. We can understand this from our own experience. When we are in love, we want to serve the one we love. This is the essence of Christian love, of what it means to be a Christian.
And this is what Jesus is teaching St. Peter in the Gospel passage today. As we just heard:
Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
Obviously, my dear brothers — these words have special meaning for you today. Our Lord is choosing you today and he is calling you to live with him in a kind of “dialogue of love.”
In your ministry of service, my dear brothers, you are called to be a model to all of us in the family of God.
So, we especially ask you to be committed to teach us to love! To teach us to serve!
With your example, with your dedication, with your love for your wives and your families, and for your love for all people, especially the most in need.
And my dear brothers and sisters, we can never take our faith for granted. To be a Christian means we are a new creation — a new kind of a man, a new kind of a woman. We are now people who live for God and live for others.
It is true, it is a life-long process. Conversion is the lifestyle of the Christian — always and everyday trying to become this new man, this new woman.
Our Lord invites us, especially today, to answer his call with our whole heart, with our whole life. So let us renew our commitment to that ongoing conversion to life for God and to life for others.
So, my dear brothers, we are praying for you today. We are grateful to you that you have answered this special calling of God in your lives.
And I ask Our Blessed Mother Mary to guide you. And may she help all of us be true Catholics, true Christians — serving God the Father and serving our brothers and sisters in love.
1. Readings: Jeremiah 1:4-10; Acts 6:1-7; John 21:15-17.