Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture reminding us of our respective responsibilities as the members of the Church, to help to build up a strong, vibrant and evangelising Church in our own respective communities, having been called by God to be the bearers of His truth and to be His witnesses among the nations and the peoples of this world.
We have been called by God to participate actively in the life of the Church, in its works and ministries, just as the Scripture passage today from the Acts of the Apostles in our first reading today, spoke of the selection of seven devout and dedicated men, members of the Church to serve the Church as deacons, marking the beginning of the Order of the Diaconate, those whom the Lord had called to serve the faithful.
This is when we should understand a bit more about the inner workings of the Church, its parts and respective responsibilities. First of all, together with the Order of Deacons, we have two other Holy Orders, those who have been ordained to the Order of Priests or the presbyterate, and those who have been ordained to the Order of Bishops or the episcopate. Each of these three holy orders, of the Episcopate, Presbyterate and the Diaconate represent important parts of the Church, as they were those who had been called to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles.
They are part of the ministerial priesthood, of which they have been called to serve the larger Church in their various functions and responsibilities. The bishops, also known as elders and overseers in the ancient times, were those who had been entrusted with the leadership of the Church, the guidance of the flock of the Lord’s people, while the priests or the presbyters ministered to the people in the smaller groups such as parishes and communities, and last of all, the deacons helped, as mentioned in the first reading today, in the distribution of goods to the poor and the needy in the community.
Each and every one of the members of these three holy orders are important, now as it was then in the days of the early Church. The scope of their work and responsibilities may have changed somewhat due to the changes of times and the needs of our contemporary society, but in the end, all of them are still doing the same work to which they have been called to do, succeeding the works of the Apostles.
But brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important that each and every one of us know, that it does not mean the role of the laity, or those who do not belong to the holy orders are not important. In fact, without the help of all those who are part of the laity, the bishops, priests and deacons cannot have done their works efficiently and well. It is the commitment, sacrifices and contributions made by the laity together with the commitment, sacrifices and contributions of those in holy orders that make up the entire effort and good works of the Church.
On this day therefore, all of us are called to reflect on our own lives, and think in what way, each and every one of us can contribute more to the works of the Church. Some among us have been called by God to be His followers and to serve Him, and these are those who have devoted their whole lives to serve the Lord faithfully as His bishops, priests and deacons. But as mentioned, this does not mean we are not able to dedicate ourselves, in our own ways, to serve the Lord faithfully through our own capacities, abilities and means.
In fact, all of us should think and contemplate, in what ways we will be able to commit ourselves to the good works of the Church, and devote more of our time, effort and attention in serving the Lord and in serving the greater community of the Universal Church. Let us all reflect on this, and commit ourselves more wholeheartedly, from now on, to become ever better Christians, in all of our ways, in all of our words and actions. Amen.