Deacons are the Church’s face in the daily life of a community that lives and walks among the people and where the greatest is not he who commands but he who serves
On Saturday, Pope Francis received in audience a delegation of the International Diaconate Center, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its institution.
Here is a ZENIT translation of the Pope’s address.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am happy to receive you on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the International Diaconate Center, event that you celebrated at the end of last year. Your visit takes place in the Holy Year of Mercy, a spiritual context to renew in ourselves the awareness of the importance of mercy in our life and in our ministry. I thank you for your presence, and a special thank you goes to Monsignor Furst and to Professor Kiebling for their kind words.
The Lord Jesus entrusted a new commandment to the Apostles: “that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). Jesus Himself is this “novelty.” He has given us an example, so that we should do as He has done to us (cf. John 13:15). This commandment of love was Jesus’ last will, given to the disciples in the Cenacle after the washing of the feet. And He stresses once again: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). In loving one another, the disciples continue the mission for which the Son of God came into the world. And, helped by the Holy Spirit, they understand that this commandment implies service to brothers and sisters. To be able to take care concretely of persons and their needs, the Apostles chose some “deacons,” that is, servants. Deacons manifest in a particular way Jesus’ commandment: to imitate God in the service of others; to imitate God who is love and pushes Himself even to serve us. God’s way of acting, His acting with patience, benevolence, compassion and willingness to make us better, must also distinguish all ministers: the Bishops as successors of the Apostles, the priests, their collaborators, and, concretely, deacons “to serve tables” (Acts 6:2). In fact deacons are the Church’s face in the daily life of a community that lives and walks among the people and where the greatest is not he who commands but he who serves (cf. Luke 22:26).
Dear deacons, I hope that your pilgrimage to Rome during this Jubilee is an intense experience of God’s mercy and that it will help you to grow in your vocation of ministers of Christ. May the Lord support you in your service and make you attain an ever greater faith in His love, to live it with joy and dedication. Know that my prayer and my blessing accompany you always and please, please — this is a diaconal service that I ask of you — do not forget to pray for me.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]