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Pope Francis \ Speeches

Pope Francis reminds deacons of their vocation to service

Pope Francis spoke to deacons from the International Diaconate Center in a private audience on Saturday - AP

Pope Francis spoke to deacons from the International Diaconate Center in a private audience on Saturday - AP

04/06/2016 11:30

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Saturday welcomed deacons from the International Diaconate Center in a private audience, reminding them of Jesus’ commandment of love and their vocation to service as an expression of that love.

Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:

In remarks to the delegates from the International Diaconate Center, Pope Francis focused on the early Church’s foundation of the diaconate as a concrete expression of Jesus’ new commandment of love.

He also said their 50th anniversary, which takes place in this Jubilee of Mercy, provides “a spiritual context aimed at renewing in us awareness of the importance of mercy in our lives and in our ministry”.

The Holy Father said Jesus Himself is the newness of the new commandment of love in the Gospel of John.

“The Lord Jesus entrusted the Apostles with a new commandment: “love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another”. Jesus Himself is this ‘newness’. He gave us an example so that, as He did, we should also do… By loving one another, the disciples continue the mission for which the Son of God came into the world. They understand, with the help of the Holy Spirit, that this commandment involves service to our brothers and sisters.”

This realization of the necessity of service along with the concrete needs of the early Christian community, the Pope said, led the disciples to implement the diaconate, a word which literally means service.

He said, “Deacons manifest the commandment of Jesus in a particular way: imitating God in the service of others; imitating God who is love and desires to serve us. The manner of God’s acting – that is, His acting with patience, goodness, compassion, and willingness to make us better persons – these must also characterize all ministers. It is especially deacons who are the face of the Church in the daily life of a community, which lives and journeys in the midst of the people and in which the greatest is not the one who commands, but the one who serves”

Pope Francis concluded by telling the deacons, “May the Lord sustain you in your service and help you arrive at an ever deeper faith in His love, so that you may live it in joy and dedication.”

Below is Vatican Radio's English translation of the Pope's remarks:

Dear Brothers,

It’s my pleasure to welcome you in occasion of the 50th anniversary of the International Center of the Diaconate, which you celebrated at the end of last year. Your visit takes place during the Holy Year of Mercy, which provides a spiritual context aimed at renewing in us awareness of the importance of mercy in our lives and in our ministry. I thank you all for your presence, and I especially thank Mons. Fürst and Prof. Kießling for their kind words.

The Lord Jesus entrusted the Apostles with a new commandment: “love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (Jn 13,34). Jesus Himself is this ‘newness’. He gave us an example so that, as He did, we should also do (cf. Jn 13,15). That commandment of love is the last will of Jesus, given to the disciples in the upper room after the washing of the disciples’ feet. Shortly afterwards he underlines: “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15,12).  By loving one another, the disciples continue the mission for which the Son of God came into the world. They understand, with the help of the Holy Spirit, that this commandment involves service to our brothers and sisters. In order to provide for the concrete care of people and their necessities, the Apostles chose several “deacons”, that is, servants. Deacons manifest the commandment of Jesus in a particular way: imitating God in the service of others; imitating God who is love and desires to serve us. The manner of God’s acting – that is, His acting with patience, goodness, compassion, and willingness to make us better persons – these must also characterize all ministers: Bishops as successors of the Apostles, priests – their collaborators – and deacons in the concrete “serving at table” (Acts 6,2). It is especially deacons who are the face of the Church in the daily life of a community, which lives and journeys in the midst of the people and in which the greatest is not the one who commands, but the one who serves (cf. Lk 22,26).

Dear deacons, I hope your pilgrimage to Rome during this Jubilee Year is an intense experience of the mercy of God and that it helps you to grow in your vocation as ministers of Christ. May the Lord sustain you in your service and help you arrive at an ever deeper faith in His love, so that you may live it in joy and dedication. Know that my prayer and my blessing is with you always, and please do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.


(Devin Sean Watkins)
04/06/2016 11:30