Reverend Monsignori and Fathers; reverend deacons; men and women in consecrated life; seminarians; the family, relatives, and guests of our ordinandi; Brothers Kim, Adrian, Jess, Mark, and Cris; 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 brothers, Kim, Adrian, Jess, Mark, and Cris. 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.
On behalf of the Archdiocese of Manila, I also thank the parents and family of our ordinandi. Thank you for offering your sons to God and his Church. Isa sa mga dahilan kung bakit sila inoordenan ngayon ay dahil sa inyong paghubog, pagtuturo, paggabay, at pagmamahal sa kanila. Kayo ang nagpalago sa binhi ng bokasyon na inihasik sa kanila ng Diyos.
We also thank their seminary communities, the priest-formators, seminarians, professors, and personnel of San Carlos Seminary and the Lorenzo Mission Institute, and all who have been part of their 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 brothers to receive the grace of ordination.
And to all of you who come from the different parishes, communities, and groups where our ordinandi had their 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 them. They are being ordained today to serve you. They are committing their lives totally to your service. Your part is to pray for them so that, sustained by the prayer of the Church, they may be faithful in their ministry.
Brothers Kim, Adrian, Jess, Mark, and Cris, 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 deacons. And to be a deacon is to be a servant because diaconate is essentially service. You are being ordained today to serve. Therefore, service should be 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 essential aspects about 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 mananatili sa pag-ibig ni Hesus, may panganib na ang paglilingkod natin ay maging makasarili. Naglilingkod para magpasikat o magpaganda ng image. Naglilingkod pero 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 ordinandi, 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 yourselves 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. Sabi ni San Pablo, ang diyakono o sinumang naglilingkod ay dapat marangal, hindi mayabang, hindi lasinggero, hindi gahaman, at naninindigan sa pananampalataya nang may malinis na kalooban. 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 mga tao na magagaling, matatalino, maabilidad, maraming nagagawa, pero ginagamit ito sa maling paraan at sa paggawa ng masama. Aanhin mo ang galing at talino kung gagamitin naman ito sa panlalamang sa kapwa? Ano ang saysay ng abilidad at kakayahan kung gagamitin naman ito para sa pansariling kapakanan?
My dear ordinandi, after this homily, I will ask you about your resolve to fulfill your functions as deacons. 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 holy servants. Servants who serve with the heart of Jesus.
My dear brothers and sisters, let us entrust our brothers to the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the handmaid of the Lord. Let us pray that they may faithfully and humbly serve the Church like Jesus, the servant of all, who came not to be served but to serve. Amen. (Photos by Maricar Santos/RCAM-AOC | Photogallery)