Homily His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle Ordination to the Sacred of Deacons Layforce chapel, Guadalupe Makati City April 8, 2017

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My dear brothers and sisters in Chirst, today is a day of blessing, today is a day of rejoicing. We thank God for calling each one of us by the holy spirit and by the gift of the holy spirit to be of service to Jesus, his Gospel to his kingdom and to the humanity.

And on this ordination mass, we thank God for the gift of a calling to the deaconate and calling to mission specially for the 3 who belongs to the Lorenzo Ruiz Mission Society.

Our celebration is also a manifestation of the communion that binds the churches spreaded all over the world in one christian identity and community, so we thank the 2 candidates from the diocese of Handan and we unite ourselves not only with your diocese but with church in China.

May we know who came from China? your relatives, your family, welcome, welcome to the Philippines.

The deaconate, deaconia really mewans service all of us are called to serve, all of us and the deacons as they enter what we call the leadership of the church, the hierarchy of the church they enter as people who serve that’s the beginning of sacred ministry in the church. Very often we associate sacred ministry with authority, power, prestige position but the beginning of it is that calling to be deacons, to serve and that is the foundation.

When you become a priest, some become bishops, the foundation is always service.

But what does it mean for us to serve? Let us find some indications from the readings.
The first point is the type of service we are asked to give specially you 5 candidates. It is not just service for the sake of service. Jesus tells his disciples in the gospel that the service he asked from his disciples is not like that you find among the gentiles. The non-believers or the pagans. Even the non-believers know how to serve. They have their brand of serving and when they assume authority there is a way by which they exercise their authority.

But Jesus says, I am not asking you to serve the way the gentiles do. I expect you to serve as my disciples. So service for us is a matter of discipleship, its a matter of faith to distinguish us to those who do not have faith, from those who do not believe in Jesus.

And serving as one who believes in Jesus, someone who follows Jesus involves a change of mindset, a change of even self identity, a change in looking at the criteria of the world, Jesus point to greatness.

According to the norms of the world, the non-believing world greatness is found in being at the top, you lord it over others, you command, you have authority they follow you. And you are legitimated by the pagan world to exercise your authority as lord and master.

You used your all the authority that is within your power to lord it over others to make your importance felt.

That is accepted in a pagan world that is accepted in the world of the gentiles. And if you exercise your authority that way the world of the gentiles will call you great, they will say wow what a good leader.

He commands, he is lord, he has power that’s the way of the gentiles. And Jesus is very clear, he tells his disciples that shall not be so among you.

Unfortunately this is a very hard lesson to learn even among us who say we follow Jesus, we are tempted to, we are tempted to exercise authority and greatness according to Gentile ways.

But Jesus says it clearly, it should not be the case amomg you, for you known to be my disciples greatness is in being a slave, being the least. This requires a new self image, if I think of myself as Lord I will not serve, if I will think of myself as the first I will not serve. I should start thinking of myself as the last and someone who looks on others as really above me and so I serve them.

This is how the disciple of Chirst will be known. So dear candidates please everyday, please check your self image to think of yourself as the great one .

When people admire you on what a good homily please at the back of your mind, please say you are the least do not say, o how good I am they admire me.

When that happens to you in a very subtle way, one thing that suffers is service, you will not serve, the choice is there you serve according to gentiles ways or to serve as a disciple of Christ, but it begins with that identity and I am a disciple of Christ.

Which list us to the second point , the type of service we are ask to render is in imitation of Jesus Christ. The son of man does not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

That’s why it is discipleship, it is following Christ in your service. It is following Christ in whatever you are asked to do, it is following Christ who came even if he was the son of god, he came emptied of glory, he came as one like us. And in fact he came as one who would offer his life for others even for those who do not deserve it, he served even his enemies, he served even those who will betray him, he did not serve only those who like him. He served and offered his life as a ransom for all.

So to follow Jesus is to follow his path to greatness. According to gentile ways, according to the ways of the world to be great is to go up,up, up. Unfortunately that is also our connection in the church, they will say now you are a deacon after 6 months, you will go up. You will become a priest and just wait maybe after few more years you will go up, you will become a bishop.

Our gentile ways, our gentile mentality going up the ranks to greatness, but if we follow the Son of God, greatness is in going down.

Greatness is in shedding off my pride, shedding of my glory, you kneel and wash the feet of others. That’s how greatness is according to the son of man.

And so you dear deacons in your humble service may people see Jesus. May you inspire all of us to return to Jesus, learn from him again and be true disciples, your humble service will be your contributions to a world gone mad because greatness is measured according to strength, weapons, bombs killings. As we speak Syria is being destroyed, I sent an email yesterday, last night to a Bishop in Syria asking how they are? And he responded and said the situation is very bad probably they want to destroy Syria, to divide Syria for economic and strategic reasons. This is the greatness of the world to subdue others but that should not so with you my disciples, Jesus says.

The world may consider us fools, but we will not be the first. Jesus whom we are following the one who died on the cross is a scandal and foolishness to the world. But we know that is how the healing of the world will happens.

So service is not just action it is matter of faith and discipleship. A new self image, a new understanding of greatness.

Secondly it is following Jesus turn to Jesus everyday, look at him, consider his words, pray meditate, dialogue with him, struggle with him and follow him. Behold his cross and see how this great son of God was able to save us by being the little one, by being the ransom for many. And you follow him.

And finally in the first reading and in the second reading, you are called to serve but you serve with others collaboration.

In the first reading from the book of numbers, you have the tribe of levite people who are presented to Aron so that they could assist one another, they serve the same people, but they enable each other to serve.

In the acts of the apostle, the 12 apostles had to serve by prayer and the ministry of the word and so the appointed 7 who would assists them in serving a table serving the widows and preaching the word.

All are called to serve but we are called to serve with each other from the very beginning even from the old testament, service is I am always collaborator. I labor, I serve with whom others and that’s part of humility. Jesus called disciples and he entrusted top them his power to cast out demons to preach the good news. He the son of man had collaborators, so please dear candidates to the deaconate learn how to work with the priest , with the bishops, with the lay people. You are not the only ones capable of serving. Enable the others to serve, encourage them and do not assume everything as though you have all the gifts from God. No that’s part of humility, learning how to serve and work with others.

And to you, may dear brothers and sisters, my brother priest, I hope it is also an occasion for us to go back to our foundation. We are all deacons first and see whether we are rooted in that foundation or whether we have already forgotten it because we are risen, risen. we might be floating there and not connected to the foundation and that is service, and to all of us here, the religious men and women, the lay people you also have your gifts to be used to serve, please use that not again for self acknowledgement, not for any honor, not for any high position or greatness. Measured according to the ways of the gentiles and the pagans but simply because we follow Jesus.

We follow Jesus on his cross, we follow Jesu in his nothingness, the height of his service wash his death. When you could not do anything anymore but just die loving others, that is supreme service.

So you dear candidates, we hope and we pray that through you the world and the church would see the beauty and the power of service, of Jesus entrusted to his disciples.

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