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Hear Bishop Peter’s homily
Bishop Peter Muhich
June 29, 2023
Today we rejoice in a great blessing for our diocese — the ordination of six permanent deacons and one transitional deacon. Seven we know is the number of completion and perfection. The number of fullness since God finished His work of creation in six days and rested on the seventh. In agricultural terms I guess we would call this year’s ordination class a bumper crop. A great blessing to our diocese. A sign that God is favoring us and hearing our prayers, and I commend all of you who have been praying for vocations for our diocese using our diocesan vocation prayer, or whatever means you use in prayer, to continue to ask him to provide for our needs. Your prayers are being heard. Your prayers are bearing great fruit.
We also have the blessing of celebrating this Ordination of Deacons on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul which gives us the opportunity to honor these two great Saints that God used to lay the foundations of the Church and to reflect a little bit on their roles in the Church. Peter — a Galilean fisherman. A small businessman. A person of not much formal education. He spoke maybe some Aramaic. Maybe a little Greek for business purposes. He was, as we hear in the Gospels, big hearted but impetuous. And Paul — a very different personality. A Jew of the Diaspora from Tarsus which would be south east Turkey today. A Pharisee. Very well educated, very well educated. He spoke Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. He knew the scriptures very well and also the classical Greek thinkers like Plato and Aristotle, and he studied at the feet of the most prominent Rabbi of his day Gamaliel.
In the Church’s iconography and thought, Peter and Paul are often depicted together even in an embrace and today’s feast celebrates them in tandem as well. Why? Because the church needs them both. There are two archetypes of the Church’s life and ministry. Peter the ministry of order, office, authority, and stability. And Paul the ministry of mission, preaching, theology, and dynamic inspiration.
The Petrine Ministry. The Lord Jesus chose Peter to be the rock on which He would build His Church as we heard in the Gospel. He’s the leader of the twelve Apostles and the chief spokesman for the church in the New Testament. Interestingly and importantly, Peter’s confession of faith and his office are closely related. God gives him the inspiration to say, “You, Jesus are the Messiah, are Son of the living God,” which is absolutely true. And the clarity of his confession of who Jesus is and his courage to confess him are closely related to his office of authority and leadership because integrity of faith and the courage to profess it go along with that Petrine Ministry of authority. Without leadership, integrity, authority, stability based on a clear confession of who Jesus is, the Church would have dissolved long ago. Every priest, Bishop, Cardinal, and Pope participates in Peter’s office of leadership and every Deacon in some ways serves and assists in that ministry.
The Pauline Ministry. The Lord gave Paul the ministry of mission, of theology, of preaching, of evangelization. That ministry of outward energy compelled by the Holy Spirit to go out to the world. Peter confessed Jesus’ identity and Paul searched out the meaning of that confession as reflected in the Gospel. He thought and taught and engaged the wider culture, and every theologian, teacher, and preacher continues this ministry including deacons in no small way. Without this dimension of the Church, the Church would have run out of steam. Without the Petrine office, the Pauline ministry could dissolve into too much speculation and debate. Peter and Paul embrace throughout the history of the Church, down the ages, just as the Lord intended because the church needs both.
GW, Jim, Robert, Tim, Matt, and Phillip, and Brian — almost forgot you Brian — as deacons now, and Robert you soon as a priest, strengthened by the Holy Spirit will assist me and my priests in the Ministry of the Word, of the altar, and of charity, showing yourselves to be servants to all. As a Minister of the Altar you will proclaim the Gospel, prepare the sacrifice, and distribute the Lord’s Body and Blood to the faithful. You will preside over public prayer, administer Baptism, assist at and bless marriages, bring viaticum to the sick and the dying, and conduct funeral rites. Consecrated this evening by the laying on of hands which comes down to us from the Apostles, you will carry out works of charity in the name of your bishop and of his pastors. And with God’s help you will go about all these duties in such a way that others will recognize you as a Disciple of Him who came not to be served but to serve. They will see Christ in you and your loving acts of charity and your servant’s heart. As you are ordained now for ministry in our diocese, remember to serve and respect both the Petrine and the Pauline offices. As I said, the Church needs them both. And seek always to do so with the servant’s heart.
Today we so rejoice that God has raised you up in our midst for ordained ministry and service of His people. I invite you now to open your hearts to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and laying on of hands to be ordained deacons of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ordained ministers of His Church
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Excerpts from the English translation of Lectionary for Mass ©1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation, (ICEL); Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, ICEL; Excerpts from the English translation and chants of Ordination of a Bishop, of Priests, and of Deacons © 2018, ICEL; All rights reserved. The Abbey Psalms and Canticles, prepared by the monks of Conception Abbey © 2010, 2018 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved. English Psalm Tones © 2014 Adam Bartlett. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Entrance Antiphon © 2018 Christus Vincit Music. All rights reserved. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Responsorial Psalm Music © 2014, Royce Nickel. Licensed in the Creative Commons by-nc-nd 3.0. Ubi Caritas © 2021 Michael J. Drake, Jr. Licensed in the Creative Commons by-nc-nd 3.0 Offertory Antiphon from Choral Graduale Simplex by Aristotle A. Esguerra. Revised Grail Psalms Copyright © 2008, Conception Abbey/The Grail, admin. by GIA Publications, Inc., www.giamusic.com All rights reserved. O Taste, and You Will See @ Colin Brumby & Kathleen Pluth. Music Reprinted and Streamed with Permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A-704305. All rights reserved.