Tag Archives: deacon

5th Sunday of Easter, cycle A

1ST READING: ACTS 6: 1-7
Hellenists were congregations of Diaspora Jews (those who had lived outside the Holy Land) but returned to Jerusalem. They were more open to new ideas and less rigid in regard to ritual law than their fellow Jews. Because of this, they were despised and persecuted by the non-Christian Jews, and were eventually driven out of Jerusalem. It was providential because it ended up spreading the new faith (Church History, J. Dwyer. P. 25-27).

St. Stephen is the patron saint of deacons. This is one of the primary roles of deacons to bring alms to the widows. The apostles are beginning to organize themselves. The laying on of hands suggests the idea of being called into formal service. The apostles listened to the needs of the people and responded. How do our deacons do this today?

From Celebration, April 2005: Church is not a monarchy, but a community. Note verse 5: “The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen” . . . Some conclusions from this text about leadership in the church:
* leadership within the church arises from the community’s need
* leadership arises from ‘below’, not from ‘above’

2ND READING: 1 PETER 2: 4-9
It is likely that this reading is taken from an early homily, perhaps given as instruction for candidates for baptism (W&W, Birmingham, p.308). This reading calls us. How does it call you?
The early Christians did not ‘build’ a church until the 4th century; they met in homes and, at times, catacombs – What can we learn from their idea of church?

“chosen race” – “royal priesthood” – “holy (consecrated) nation” What does each mean for you? How does each move us from darkness into God’s light? Christians, the living stones, are joined by Christ himself who is the cornerstone – the foundation that supports the living stones. In the Old Testament no one was to approach the rock of Sinai, under penalty of death. Contrast that with Jesus, the cornerstone, who invites his people to come close to him. He has created something new and wonderful. He has gathered his living stones and formed them into a new people, a new religion (W&W, Birminham, p. 308).

From Celebration, April 2005:
At Vatican II, it was reaffirmed that “the Church is all the people of God.” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, #9) It overturned the pyramid model, stressing the privileges and responsibilities of all baptized believers. Hans Kung says that “Laypersons do not belong to the Church, nor do they have a role in the Church. Rather, through baptism, they are Church.” Vatican II states: “All are endowed with charisms for the upbuilding of the Church and all share in the threefold office of Christ: priestly, prophetical, and royal. Among all the people of Christ, there is a true equality, a genuine freedom, a profound dignity, a global responsibility, a sense of vocation and a personal union with Christ and his mission” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, #30-33,37)

THE GOSPEL: JOHN 14: 1-12
Remember, these words come before the crucifixion in John’s gospel.
Yet, they are truly a life-giving Easter message.

Jesus promises that he is going “to prepare a place for you.” William Barclay explains that this means that Jesus will act as our prodromoi which means a forerunner, a scout . . . it was also used at the time to refer to the small pilot boat sent ahead of great ships to lead them through a “dangerous or difficult harbor.” Jesus tells us that he will go ahead, find a path, and secure our passage from death to life. He just asks us to trust – to “have faith in this.” (Celebration, April 2005)

Jesus

= THE WAY (the way beyond dead ends): the God we find in Jesus is a faithful God of new beginnings
= THE TRUTH: that which is real, that which will set us free (Jn 8:32)
=AND THE LIFE – that which nurtures, cares, labors, grows, creates, loves

From Mary Birmingham: Only through self-giving love can human beings become their most authentic selves. We were created to love. Jesus shows us what that means. If we live the love that Jesus lived, we will know God, who Is Love. . . the Christians of John’s community were beginning to feel the sting of religious prejudice. They were expelled from the synagogue. The synagogue has been heart and hearth to them. For Yahweh’s chosen people, it was the place of encounter with God. How would they now encounter God? Jesus encouraged them and us, ‘If you know me, you know God.’” ( Word and Worship Workbook, Year A, p..311)

From Celebrations, April, 2002:
There is no secret word, no magic potion, no hidden wisdom. If there were, Jesus would surely have found it. We must learn to read the truth between the lies. Jesus is not the Solution; He is the Way. And the best he can give us is some direction along the way.

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5th Sunday of Easter, cycle A

1ST READING:  ACTS 6: 1-7

Hellenists were congregations of Diaspora Jews (those who had lived outside the Holy Land) but returned to Jerusalem.  They were more open to new ideas and less rigid in regard to ritual law than their fellow Jews.  Because of this, they were despised and persecuted by the non-Christian Jews, and were eventually driven out of Jerusalem.  It was providential because it ended up spreading the new faith  (Church History, J. Dwyer. P. 25-27).

St. Stephen is the patron saint of deacons.  This is one of the primary roles of deacons to bring alms to the widows.  The apostles are beginning to organize themselves.  The laying on of hands suggests the idea of being called into formal service.  The apostles listened to the needs of the people and responded.  How do our deacons do this today?

From Celebration, April 2005:

Church is not a monarchy, but a community. Note verse 5:

“The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen” . . .  Some conclusions from this text about leadership in the church:

* leadership within the church arises from the community’s need

* leadership arises from ‘below’, not from ‘above’

2ND READING:  1 PETER 2: 4-9

It is likely that this reading is taken from an early homily, perhaps given as instruction for candidates for baptism  (W&W, Birmingham, p.308).  This reading calls us.  How does it call you?

The early Christians did not ‘build’ a church until the 4th century; they met in homes and, at times, catacombs – What can we learn from their idea of church?

“chosen race” – “royal priesthood” – “holy (consecrated) nation”

What does each mean for you?  How does each move us from darkness into God’s light?  Christians, the living stones, are joined by Christ himself who is the cornerstone – the foundation that supports the living stones.  In the Old Testament no one was to approach the rock of Sinai, under penalty of death.  Contrast that with Jesus, the cornerstone, who invites his people to come close to him.  He has created something new and wonderful.  He has gathered his living stones and formed them into a new people, a new religion  (W&W, Birminham, p. 308).

From Celebration, April 2005:

At Vatican II, it was reaffirmed that “the Church is all the people of God.” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, #9) It overturned the pyramid model, stressing the privileges and responsibilities of all baptized believers. Hans Kung says that “Laypersons do not belong to the Church, nor do they have a role in the Church. Rather, through baptism, they are Church.” Vatican II states: “All are endowed with charisms for the upbuilding of the Church and all share in the threefold office of Christ: priestly, prophetical, and royal. Among all the people of Christ, there is a true equality, a genuine freedom, a profound dignity, a global responsibility, a sense of vocation and a personal union with Christ and his mission” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, #30-33,37)

THE GOSPEL:  JOHN 14: 1-12

Remember, these words come before the crucifixion in John’s gospel.

Yet, they are truly a life-giving Easter message.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled” –  Jesus’ opening words for this Sunday – what meaning do they have for you?

An ancient Chinese saying:

“That birds of worry and care fly above your head,

this you cannot change.

But that they build nests in your hair,

this you can prevent!”

The Greek word, mone, that is used for ‘dwelling places’ means a place of abiding rest, a haven, an inn of security – sometimes it has been translated, ‘mansion’ –What do you think best fits what Jesus is saying here?

Jesus also promises that he is going “to prepare a place for you.” William Barclay explains that this means that Jesus will act as our prodromoi which means a forerunner, a scout . . . it was also used at the time to refer to the small pilot boat sent ahead of great ships to lead them through a “dangerous or difficult harbor.” Jesus tells us that he will go ahead, find a path, and secure our passage from death to life. He just asks us to trust – to “have faith in this.” (Celebration, April 2005)

Jesus = THE WAY – the way beyond dead ends: the God we find in Jesus is a faithful God of new beginnings. In fact, we see in Jesus that when humans try to frustrate and defeat God’s plan, God makes “the cause of frustration itself the point of departure for a new way of grace.” God’s way is a way of love that “will not be halted, deflected, or repelled.” It works to transform.(Ladislaus Boros, The Closeness of God, p. 45-46)

THE TRUTH – that which is real, that which will set us free (Jn

8:32)

AND THE LIFE – that which nurtures, cares, labors,

grows, creates, loves . . .

From Mary Birmingham:

Only through self-giving love can human beings become their most authentic selves.  We were created to love.  Jesus shows us what that means.  If we live the love that Jesus lived, we will know God, Who Is Love. . . the Christians of John’s community were beginning to feel the sting of religious prejudice.  They were expelled from the synagogue.  The synagogue has been heart and hearth to them.  For Yahweh’s chosen people, it was the place of encounter with God.  How would they now encounter God?  Jesus encouraged them and us, ‘If you know me, you know God.’” ( Word and Worship Workbook, Year A, p..311)

From Celebrations, April, 2002:

“It would be nice to reduce reality to a simple statement.  But existence is as untangleable as a snarled fishing line.  There is no secret word, no magic potion, no hidden wisdom.  If there were, Jesus would surely have found it.  We must learn to read the truth between the lies. Jesus is not the Solution; He is the Way. And the best he can give us is some direction along the way.

Deacon Tom’s Homily: My Vocation

Before I begin I want to let you that I am not very comfortable with my homily today.  I say that not just because I do not like to talk about myself and because my call was very simple, but, and meaning no disrespect, because I am not happy with the program called by name because it appeared to me at first that the only vocation we have to be concerned about is priesthood.  And apparently I am not the only one who felt that way because we now have called by name II which addresses deaconate, religious life, and lay ecclesial ministry, but what about the rest?  In my humble opinion when our church begins to really consider the role that each of us was called to at our baptism and let each baptized person, male and female, answer that call the life of our church will continue to struggle.

Vatican II, 50 years ago, recognized the need to involve the laity in the life of the church, started to do so a little, but we still continue to hinder the laity, especially females.  Thank God, it appears that Pope Francis is trying to bring the teachings of Vatican II back to new life.  Lets pray that it happens and works.

My call happened many years ago, 65 to be exact, on the day of my baptism.  However it was years later before I heard the call.  My life as a child was one of following what I thought was a call to become a priest.  After graduation I followed my dream and soon learned that it was just a dream.  I understand it now, I didn’t then.  I moved on and still thought I heard that call and thought of going back to the seminary but knew it wasn’t the call.

It was then that I started to understand that this call thing was all about love.  I fell back in love with God, prayer, and sharing that love.  In the summer of 1972 God’s call to love and to serve, lead me to one of the greatest gifts that I could have ever imagined, this beautiful girl named Kathy.   Yes, I heard the call; we married in May of 1973 in the Lutheran Church in Watertown, NY.  As our love continued to grow stronger and stronger my love for God and neighbor did the same.  The second gift came with the birth of our first daughter, Kathy.  My role as a husband and father changed when we moved to Ogdensburg, back to my place of birth, and I began cooking at the Seminary.  It was there that my eyes were opened and I felt God urging me to again answer my baptismal call.

The young men discerning priesthood would talk for hours asking me if their call was real.  Telling me how much help it was for them just to talk, just to have me care and listen.  A dear friend, Fr. Paul Kelly, a professor at the seminary, would stop in my office in the kitchen, close the door, open a cold beer which I always had on hand and say is spiritual direction still open?  It was Paul who said to me God’s call just might be to deaconate.  Kathy and I talked and prayed and agreed that I should at least inquire.  We did and formation began.  Then gift number 3, the birth of daughter number 2, Angela.  Formation and formal classes on weekends continued and on the day of our final class on the Sacrament of Baptism, gift number 4, our daughter Teresa was baptized.

So here we were, ten years married, three beautiful daughters, and the call to ordination just months away.  Again I questioned because I had to promise that if my wife was to die I would not remarry.  I panicked, had I been in this position before?  Yes, that was one of the reasons why I left the seminary.  I talked to my bishop and expressed my concerns and in his kind and simple way he said: “Thomas, God will speak to you then the same way he does right now.  Cross that bridge when and if you ever get to it.”  That was good enough for me and on October 1, 1983 my name was called, I stood and said: “Present” and my wife, Kathy stood and said: “And I give my consent” and the Sacrament of Holy Orders was conferred.  Following the prayer of consecration by the Bishop I was vested in stole and dalmatic by my wife and former pastor.

Vested as a newly ordained deacon, I went and knelt before the bishop and he placed the Book of the Gospels in my hands and said: “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are.  Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”  My sisters and brothers, thirty years later I stand before you as Christ’s unworthy herald, as your deacon, I ask that you always listen for God’s call and know that the best way to answer it is by living these words of Jesus that I try to practice in my life: “Love one another as I love you.”