HOMILY TRANSCRIPT | Diaconal Ordination of Rev. Lester de Guzman, FdCC at San Pablo Apostol Parish, August 5, 2023

Dear brother priests; reverend deacons; men and women in consecrated life; seminarians; the family, relatives, and guests of our ordinandus; Brother Lester, our ordinadus; my brothers and sisters in Christ:

We are grateful to the Lord for gathering us this morning for the ordination to the diaconate of our brother Lester.  We thank the Lord because every ordination is a clear and tangible sign that God never abandons his people.  He never ceases to choose people to serve him and his people and become instruments of his love, compassion, and mercy to all.

I also thank the parents and family of Brother Lester.  Thank you for offering your sonto God and his Church.  Isa samgadahilan kung bakitsiyainoordenanngayon ay dahilsainyongpaghubog, pagtuturo, paggabay, at pagmamahalsakanila.  Kayo ang nagpalagosabinhi ng bokasyonnainihasiksakaniya ng Diyos.

We also thank their formation community, the priest-formators, seminarians, professors, and personnel, and all who have been part of Lester’s formation, whether inside the seminary or outside.   Every vocation comes from God, but it grows through the help of the community.  Thank you for everything you have done to prepare our brother to receive the grace of ordination.

And to all of you who come from the different parishes, communities, and groups where our ordinandus had his exposures and apostolates, and to all their guests, thanks to all of you for coming today.  You are here, not just to witness their ordination, but to pray for him.  He is being ordained today to serve you.  He is committing his life totally to your service.  Your part is to pray for him so that, sustained by the prayer of the Church, he may be faithful in his ministry.

Brother Lester, you are being ordained today to the diaconate.  In a few moments, by the grace of God and the prayer of the Church, you will become a deacon.  And to be a deacon is to be a servant because diaconate is essentially service.  You are being ordained today to serve.  Therefore, service shouldbe your way of life.   Your ordination ushers you into a whole life of service, a commitment you must keep until your last breath.

Let us allow our readings today to remind us of some essentialaspectsof service in the Church.

In the Gospel, Jesus repeatedly says, “remain in my love.”  This is a vital aspect of authentic service.  Service in the Church always springs from our remaining in the love of Jesus.  This is also the instruction of the Lord to Moses on how the Levites would perform their duties, as we heard in our first reading today.  Take note that the Lord repeatedly said that they should carry out their functions in the service of the Dwelling, that is, close to the presence of God.

Those who serve others without remaining in Jesus might serve for the wrong reasons.  Kung hindi tayo mananatilisapag-ibigniHesus, may panganibna ang paglilingkod natin ay magingmakasarili.  Naglilingkod para magpasikat o magpaganda ng image.  Naglilingkodpero ang paglilingkod ay palabas lang.  It is in remaining in Jesus that our service and ministry become authentic.  If our service is borne out of our remaining in Jesus, then we will serve for the right reasons, with the right intentions, and with the right attitude.

My dear Bro. Lester, do not engage in any form of ministry without remaining in the love of Jesus first.  Do not deliver a homily or a talk without allowing yourself to be immersed in God’s Word through prayer and meditation.  Remain always in the love of Jesus.  Stay close to the Holy Dwelling.  And you will realize that our remaining in the love of Jesus is itself ministry.  It is a service to the people of God.

Another important reminder about service in the Church is something we could gather from our second reading today.  Here St. Paul lists the qualities to look for in a deacon.  Sabini San Pablo, ang diyakono o sinumangnaglilingkod ay dapatmarangal, hindimayabang, hindilasinggero, hindigahaman, at naninindigan sa pananampalatayanang may malinisnakalooban.  Take note that St. Paul was not looking for skills.  He did not say that a deacon should be a good administrator, an excellent speaker, or possesses outstanding talents and capabilities.  St. Paul is looking at the attitude, disposition, and values of the one who intends to serve.

This tells us that service is not just about functions.  Ministry is not just responsibilities.  More than what we do, service is who we are.  Skills without values could be dangerous.  May mgataonamagagaling, matatalino, maabilidad, maraming nagagawa, peroginagamititosamalingparaan at sapaggawa ng masama.  Aanhin mo ang galing at talino kung gagamitin naman itosapanlalamangsakapwa?  Ano ang saysay ng abilidad at kakayahan kung gagamitin naman ito para sapansarilingkapakanan?

My dear Lestser, after this homily, I will ask you about your resolve to fulfill your functions as a deacon.  Listen carefully to each question.  You will be asked about your willingness to do the tasks of a deacon.  But you will also be reminded of the spirit that should accompany you in your ministry.  The world measures us by what we can do.  But the Lord looks at who we are.  You are not only called to be efficient servants.  You are called to be a holy servant – a servant who serves with the heart of Jesus.

My dear brothers and sisters, let us entrust our brother to the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the handmaid of the Lord.  Let us pray that he may faithfully and humbly serve the Church like Jesus, the servant of all, who came not to be served but to serve.  Amen.  (Photo by Maricar Santos/RCAM-AOC | Photogallery)


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