My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
So it is a beautiful day! We thank God today for the blessing of these new deacons, called to a new ministry of service to God and the family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
My brothers, today, you are touched by God in a new way. Just as the prophet Jeremiah was touched by the hand of the Lord.
As we heard in the first reading of today’s Mass, “Then the Lord extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying to me, ‘See, I place my words in your mouth.’”
So my dear brothers — you come from so many different places, so many different experiences of life. But God has called each one of you. You were born for this moment, for the laying on of hands and prayer of ordination that will make you deacons.
Today our Lord Jesus Christ is calling you to the beautiful service of love in the order of the diaconate.
The service of love means that we need to help people endure their burdens. It also means we need to help them to know and believe in the love of God, in the mercy of God.
And it is also beautiful that you are ordained as deacons during the Year of Mercy.
As deacons, our Lord is calling you to serve people in all their needs — not only the needs of their bodies, but also the needs of their souls.
The deacon’s service of love is a service of body and soul. Certainly in our times and in our communities, we need to be serving the homeless and the poor, the elderly and sick, and all those who are vulnerable. And I will say, especially now, with the sad reality that our state has now legalized assisted suicide — we need to have a special care and love for the frail and the elderly. No one should feel when they are in pain or when they are dying that they are alone. We need to be there for them.
The service of love was the mission of the first deacons, as we heard in the reading this morning from the Acts of the Apostles. The first deacons served the material needs of widows and the poor — the most vulnerable in society. This is your calling, too, my dear brothers.
But, as we know, people need more than bread and shelter and physical comfort. The first deacons knew that too. That’s why we see deacons in the early Church preaching and baptizing and becoming martyrs for bringing people to Christ.
So the service of love that the deacon is called to bring —this service of love must include telling people that God is real and God is true.
My dear brothers and sisters, this is the challenge we all face in our ministries and in our Christian lives — deacons, priests, lay people, bishops, all of us.
Our society is falling into a kind of “sleep of unbelief.” People feel like God is far away, that maybe he has forgotten about us.
But we know that that is not true! We know God’s love, we know his mercy. We feel his love in our lives. We know that God can still change people’s lives — that he can still touch their souls with his love.
So this is our responsibility as Christians — to be missionary disciples; to show God’s love, to share his love with our neighbors. Through the love we show to others, we help others to feel the love that God has for them. And my brothers deacons, you will be our leaders in this service of love.
One final thought, my dear brothers. In your ministry, in this service of love — you are called to a deep personal friendship with Our Lord Jesus Christ.
That Gospel passage that we heard this morning is so beautiful, I hope that you always remember our Lord’s words in your ministry: “I have called you friends. … As the Father loves me, so also I love you. Remain in my love!”
This is the reality of your ordination — you are being ordained into friendship with Christ. So in your service of love, my brothers — remain in his love!
In the end, nothing else matters. Only Jesus and his love! This is true for every one of us, in every vocation. All of us need to remain in his love, to feel his presence in our lives. To know that he is near to us in every moment, every second of our lives.
So my dear brothers and sisters here present, it is beautiful that you are here to pray for our new deacons. Your prayers and love give life of the family of God. So thank you for being here today. Let us continue to pray for our brothers as they start this new vocation — this new service of love.
And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help them to remain in the love of Jesus Christ in his service of love.
1. Readings: Jer. 1:4–9; Acts 6:1–7; John 15:19–17