Ignore the church schedule and serve the people, pope tells deacons

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

— Deacons are called to be servants who set aside their own self-serving plans
and are generous with their lives, Pope Francis said.

A servant “is
not a slave to his own agenda,” but rather always is prepared for the
unexpected and responds, even if that means ignoring the parish schedule, the
pope said May 29 at a Mass for the Jubilee of Deacons in St. Peter’s Square.

“It pains my
heart when I see a schedule in the parishes — ‘from this time to that time’ —
and then, the door is closed. There is no priest, no deacon, no layperson to
welcome the people. This is wrong. Have the courage to ignore the
schedule,” he said.

Thousands of deacons
and their families, braving the increasingly hot and humid Rome weather,
attended the final Mass of the three-day Year of Mercy celebration dedicated to
the diaconal ministry.

In his homily, the
pope reminded them that in order to proclaim Christ, one must first imitate him
and “strive to become a servant.”

evangelizing is the mission entrusted at baptism to each Christian, serving is
the way that mission is carried out. It is the only way to be a disciple of
Jesus,” the pope said.

The first step in
becoming “good and faithful servants,” he continued, is to be
available to others and detached from living life in one’s own way. A true
servant doesn’t “hoard his free time,” but gives up “the idea of
being the master of his day.”

“One who serves
is not a slave to his own agenda but ever ready to deal with the unexpected,
ever available to his brothers and sisters and ever open to God’s constant
surprises,” he said.

Reflecting on the
Sunday Gospel reading, in which a centurion humbly asks Jesus to heal his servant,
the pope noted the soldier’s meekness. Despite his authority to insist or force
Jesus to come to his house, “he was modest and unassuming, he did not
raise his voice or make a fuss.”

“Meekness is
one of the virtues of a deacon. When a servant is meek, he is a servant and
doesn’t try to mimic the priests. No, he is meek,” the pope said.

Pope Francis said
that like the servant healed by Christ, deacons must have “a healthy
heart” that has been healed by God through forgiveness and constant
dialogue with Jesus through daily prayer and the sacraments.

“You can offer
the Lord your work, your little inconveniences, your weariness and your hopes
in an authentic prayer that brings your life to the Lord and the Lord to your
life. When you serve at the table of the Eucharist, there you will find the
presence of Jesus, who gives himself to you so that you can give yourselves to
others,” he said.

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