FULL TEXT | Homily delivered by Manila Archbishop Jose F. Cardinal Advincula during the Solemn Eucharistic Celebration and Ordination to the Sacred Order of Deacons at the Manila Cathedral on Nov. 20, 2021, at 9 a.m.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are filled with joy to gather in this Eucharist for the ordination of our five brothers to the diaconate. Even though we are still in the pandemic, we have to proceed with the ordination because God’s call never stops and God’s desire that his people he cared for and served continues. Every ordination is a sign that God never abandons us. He continues to choose people to serve and become instruments of his love, compassion and mercy to all.

Brothers Xavier Paul, Viel, Aldwin, Oman and Tom, you learned in Theology that the ordination to the diaconate is ordinatio non ad sacerdotium, sed ad ministerium. You are being ordained not for the priesthood but for ministry, for service. That is why you are called deacons which comes from the Greek word Diaconia which means service. You are ordained today in order to serve. Diaconia is not a stage but a lifestyle. And so your ordination today is as a renew into a whole life of service. A commitment you have to keep until your last breath.

Our readings today give some indications to what service in the church is all about. Our First Reading reminds us that service is a call. Carl Rahner intimates that it is the secret for which you were born. The Lord does said to Jeremiah, “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. This morning, allow yourself to gasp on this call. Remember with gratitude this call of love, this call to serve.

Just before this homily, we started the rite of ordination by calling each one of you by name and you responded, present. The simple rite of the election of candidates reminds you that you are not here simply because you want to be ordained. You are here because you are called. You are called by name. You are called personally by God and this personal and loving call awaits your courageous response. When you answered present, you are not simply stating the fact that you are physically here. Your response also shows your readiness to serve.

The call of God comes everyday in your ministerial life in various ways. It will come through the people you serve, through young people, through the poor and even through your enemies. When you hear God’s call through them, may you still say, present. May your response to God’s call remain as eager and as passionate as you responded today.

Our Second Reading from the Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians reminds us that the primary disposition in service is humility. Even with the competence, talents, capabilities and other gifts that you bring with you to the ministry, you still are earthen vessels. Keep this in mind so that you can also recognize that the surpassing power comes from God and not from us. We are humble servants for as St. Paul puts it, “We do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus.”

After this homily, those in charge of your formation will testify that you have been found worthy. But the Church directs the Bishop to respond with these words, “Rely on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these our brothers for the Order of the Diaconate. And everybody affirms this with gratitude by saying, “Thanks be to God.” We acknowledge that everything is gift. That even our call, our desire to serve and our strength to serve are God’s gift to us and his people. Our call to serve is a call to rely on the help of the Lord.

Finally, the gospel. Jesus presents himself as a model of service and reminds his disciples and all of us that we are called not to be served but to serve. While the world teaches that greatness comes from lording it over and making authority over others felt, in the heart of Jesus, greatness is seen in a servant who washes the feet even of his betrayer, in a servant whose towel gets dirtier because he is willing to touch even the built, the grind, the ugliness and the pain that mark people’s lives.

My dear brothers and sisters, thank you to all of you for being here today to witness the ordination of our brothers. To the parents and family of our ordinandi, thank you for your generosity in offering your sons to the Church. Thank you for nourishing in your homes the seeds of vocation that God implanted in their hearts. Thank you also to the seminary community, the different parishes, families and institutions who have been part of our ordinandi’s formation. May our new deacons find in you an example of humble and faithful service to God and his church.

We trust our brothers to the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us pray that they may faithfully respond to the call of God, that they may remain eager and passionate in their yes to the Lord’s mission each day. That they may follow Jesus’ example of humble service. Amen. (RCAM-AOC | Photo by Maricar Santos/RCAM-AOC | Photo Gallery)



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