“For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord!” (cfr. Ps. 89:1.)

Sermon: My dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, I asked that we maintain the very readings of today, Friday, January 12, 2018 of the First Week in Ordinary Time.  They teach us a lot for this year’s diaconate ordinations.  Before I say something about the Diaconate, let me share a thought or two with you on the readings.

1.1:  The First Reading taken from the First Book of Samuel selected verses of Chapter 8 recounts how the elders of Israel came to the Prophet Samuel at Ramah to demand a king to govern over them: “Give us a king to govern over us,” they said to him.

We are told that Samuel tried to dissuade the People of God, but they refused to listen to him: “No! We are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations…”

When Samuel reported to the Lord God, this is what God said in reply: “Listen to the voice of the people…for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them…set a king over them.”

Isn’t that very painful and hardhearted, how the Israelites whom the Lord God had chosen for his own had rejected him; they wanted to be like the other nations, no more the special people that God had set apart to be his own, the people chosen to show God’s goodness and uniqueness to the nations around them. They wanted to be ordinary, not special, not extraordinary. “No! We are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations…”

My dearly beloved, this is the temptation we always go through; God has chosen us and set up apart to sing his praises; to reflect his love to those around us; …and yet we are very often content to be just like the others.  How often do you not hear Catholics ask, why should be we be different?  Why can we not do just the same way as the other Churches are doing?  How often do we not find it difficult to be truly the chosen ones of God, called to reflect the glory of God to the rest of the world!

My dear sons, today, you are going to be set apart as deacons of the Lord God through this ordination to the Order of Deacons; and later on in the year, God will elevate you to the Holy Priesthood.  You are today going to be set apart in order to lead and serve God’s Chosen People in the Holy Roman Catholic Church.  Please, do not be led astray by the temptations of the world out there.  He, who has called you, today will set you apart for himself and for the service of his people.  Please listen to the voice of the Lord and not that of the world around.  Lead the people in a life of service as the Lord your God will require of you.

1.2:  Today’s Gospel taken from St. Mark teaches us several very beautiful things also.  Look at:

  • the love of the four people for their paralysed friend;
  • their show of faith in bringing him into the presence of Jesus Christ at all cost; even at the cost of “destroying the roof of the house in which Jesus was”;
  • listen to what the Gospel tells us: “…when Jesus saw their faith…” NB:  it is the faith of the friends, not the faith of the paralytic that elicits from Jesus the divine power to help the paralysed man…

In other words, your faith can help those around you or whom you know sick and needy of the help from Jesus Christ the Lord.  Let us, therefore, never give up praying for and bringing into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ our friends who are sick and needy.  Thanks to our faith, Jesus who notices everything can go on to do the needful for them.  This is why we should always be praying for others, even non-believers or those absent from the physical presence of the Lord.  Our faith can save them!

What else can we learn from today’s Gospel?  Jesus who is God knows that sin impedes the grace of God from working fully in a person who may need God’s healing power to work in them.  So Jesus Christ, the Son of Man who has power to forgive sins, goes on to say: “Son, your sins are forgiven!”  Jesus forgives his sins.

My dear sisters and brothers, let us never take sin for granted; even a small sin can hinder the grace of God from being effective.  That is why Jesus has given us in the Church the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, so that we can always be washed clean of sin and be properly disposed to obtain the full miraculous works and healing we need.  Please when you go to confession, just do the penance you are given religiously, however very simplistic it may sound, so that the grace of God will be effective in you.

And for you my sons, you who are going to be made deacons this evening, never ever take sin for granted; go religiously for confessions so that the grace of God will be able to effect the miracles in and through you for the people of God.  Always, bring the sick and needy to Jesus Christ like the four friends did and may God give them healing through your selfless service to the People of God.

1.3: Now to our diaconate ordination: the Holy Order of Deacon gives us the grace of service, the grace of Christ-like service. In the teachings of the Church, according to Lumen gentium 29, this is what the diaconate entails as duty and ministry in the Church: “…it pertains to the deacon: to administer Baptism solemnly; to protect and distribute the Eucharist, assist at and bless marriages in the name of the Church, bring Viaticum to the dying; read the Sacred Scriptures to the faithful, instruct and exhort the people; preside over the prayer and worship of the faithful, administer sacramentals, and officiate at funeral and burial rites. 

“Dedicated to duties of charity and administration, deacons should be mindful of the admonition of Saint Polycarp: ‘Be merciful and zealous, walking according to the truth of the Lord, who made himself the servant of all’”.

(A little explanation!)

1.4:  Permit me to give the following exhortation from today’s readings to you my dear sons about to be ordained to the Holy Order of Deacons:

  1. Like Samuel, always listen to the voice of the Lord God through prayer and personal contact; never however, overlook the demands of the People of God; bring them to the Lord God and listen to what the Lord God will ask of you through the teachings of the Church and the directives of the Bishop;
  2. Serve the people with all your heart and soul even pleading for them and their failings before God; he knows them better than you would even understand them;
  3. Serve the people of God especially the most needy and at all costs;
  4. Serve them in faith and bring them to Jesus Christ the Divine Healer and Redeemer;
  5. Serve God’s people selflessly, in fact in the footsteps of Jesus Christ through your promises of Obedience, Poverty and Celibate Chastity. These Evangelical Counsels make you Christ-like in your life of Pastoral Charity.

Only in this way will you be able to bring Christ Jesus to the People that God sends you and the People to Christ Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life.

1.5:  My dear People of God, let us also pray constantly for your sons as God makes them his deacons that they truly serve like Jesus Christ who came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life in ransom for the many (see Mt. 20:28).

May Mary the Mother of Deacons intercede for our sons and give us many more priests in the Archdiocese of Accra!

Delivered by

Most Rev. Charles G. PALMER-BUCKLE,

Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra

Friday, January 12, 2018.       

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