My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
What a beautiful day in the life of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles!
It is a moment of grace and joy for each one of you and your families and for all of us. As we witness the power of the grace of God transforming your lives into a life of service to God and his people.
The permanent diaconate is a ministry of joy! And the words of Jesus that we have just heard from the Gospel are especially meant for each one of you today.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love …
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. …
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
Brothers, you are called to be servants of love and models and examples of this great commandment of love that Jesus gives us.
In the sacrament of Holy Orders that you receive today — you are being “configured” to his image, you are being “sealed” with a new identity, a sacred character. The character of Jesus Christ, the Servant.2
Your ministry of service is established by God. It is rooted in the economy of salvation.
From the beginning, God has always called forth ministers to serve his priests and his people. That’s what we heard in our first reading, from the Book of Numbers, and also in our second reading from the Acts of the Apostles.
Brothers, you stand in the line of those first deacons in the early Church.
You are being called to this vocation of love at an important moment in the life of the Church. I said this to the new priests that I ordained last Saturday. In God’s Providence, the first full year of their priestly ministry is going to be carried out in the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, called by the Holy Father Pope Francis.
You are becoming deacons at this time when our world needs a new witness to the reality of God’s mercy.
As deacons, you are servants of love — and mercy is love in action. Mercy is the work of love, the true expression of the love that Jesus commands.
So you must make mercy the beating heart of your ministry. And that means, my dear brothers, that you need to cultivate the virtue of humility.
Humility is a virtue that we all need in the Church. But it is the virtue we especially need if we are ordained to the ministry in the service in the Church.
Humility keeps us close to the people we serve. It helps us to see that what others need is exactly what we need — love and compassion, gentleness and understanding.
Because we are not superior — none of us is! We are brothers and sisters. We are here to love one another, to serve one another, to share what we have.
And what you have, my dear brothers, is this beautiful awareness of the truth that God is merciful and filled with forgiveness.
So the service of mercy means walking with people. It means going out to seek the lost, it means lifting up those who have fallen. It means helping others to find the path that God is calling them to, the happiness that God intends for each of his children.
So my dear brothers, open your hearts to this great task — of serving the family of God in love and mercy.
And do it — go to it — with joy! And walk always with the Spirit who anoints you today in ordination. Be close friends with the Holy Spirit. Let the Spirit guide you, ask him for the “light” you need to see, to help you meet the challenges in your ministry.
The whole family of God in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is praying for you and your family today.
And may the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Mother, the Mother of Mercy, watch over you and intercede for you — as you lead us on the pathway of mercy, the path of service to God and to our neighbors.
And my dear brothers and sisters, let us especially ask the intercession of Mary, our Blessed Mother for our brothers who are ordained today to the diaconate.
1. Readings: Num. 3:5-9; Acts 6:1-7b; John 15:9-17.
2. Phil. 2:7; Mark 10:45; Matt. 20:18; Catechism 1570.