My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
This is a day of great joy for the whole Archdiocese of Los Angeles! And I know it is a beautiful day for all of you and your families and your parishes.
My brothers, today, by the imposition of the bishops’ hands, you will be consecrated to the ministry of the Word of God and the ministry of charity — in the service of the whole people of God.
In our Gospel today, Jesus is speaking to each one of you: “You did not choose me! But I chose you!”
You have been chosen for this ministry, my brothers. By Jesus Christ himself! What a beautiful gift our Lord has given to you. Jesus is calling you today to be near him. To minister by his side at his holy altar. To stay close by him in your service of love to God’s people.
The first reading we heard this morning tells us about the origins of the Diaconate in the early Church.
And today, my brothers, your names are written in that long line of deacons that begins with these first heroic men we hear about today — St. Stephen, St. Philip and the rest.2
As you know, Jesus intends there to be a close bond between your ministry and mine. In the ancient Church, the deacon is the servant of the bishop in his diakonia, in the bishop’s service of the people of God.
The apostles’ mission continues in the ministry of the bishops who are the apostles’ successors. As deacons you will continue the mission of those first deacons — as my co-workers, along with my brother bishops and priests, in my apostolic ministry in this great Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
My brothers, your ordination is an invitation. It is an invitation to contemplate the face of Jesus. To get to know him. To love him and to imitate his life.
Your ordination configures you to Jesus in his most humble form. As the Son of God, who emptied himself to come among us — taking the form of a servant. As the Son of Man who came — not to be served, but to serve.
Jesus is calling you to something so great, my brothers! He is calling you to be like him. He is calling you to serve in persona Christi Servi, “in the person of Christ the Servant.”3
Jesus is calling you to bear fruit for his plan of salvation. Fruits of love. To serve our brothers and sisters by proclaiming to them the love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ. To invite everyone to share in the liberation and new life — the victory over sin and death — that we celebrate in the Eucharist.
My dear brothers, your ministry of service is not about activities or external actions. Your work must proceed from a profound union with Jesus Christ in prayer.
Jesus Christ tells you that in today’s Gospel. “This I command you: to love.”
Love is the whole meaning of your vocation. You are called to be signs of love — in our Church and in our world.
Love, as we all know, is not a warm feeling or a nice thought. Love is the gift of your whole life.
We learn to love by looking at the love of Jesus — who laid down his life for his friends.
So keep your eyes on Jesus, always, my brothers. Find time every day to be quiet in his presence before the Blessed Eucharist.
In today’s second reading, St. Paul tells you: You must hold fast to the mystery of the faith! Hold fast to the Eucharist! Hold fast to the mystery of faith, my brothers! Let the Eucharist be your strength, always.
Brothers, let us prepare for your ordination. This is a moment of relying on the grace of God, because the call that you have received can be understood only as a gift of God. And we can be faithful only with the help of the grace of God.
Let us ask for the prayers of our Blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of the Angels, who gave us a perfect model of discipleship and service to God’s will. May she help all of us to gain the grace we need to always serve our Lord Jesus Christ and our brothers and sisters in love.
1. Readings (Ordination of the Permant Deacons, Year B): Acts 6:1-7; 1 Tim. 3:8-10, 12-13; John 15:9-17.
2. Acts 8:5, 12.
3. Phil. 2:7; Mark 10:45; Matt. 20:18; Catechism, 1570.