This week’s First Reading tells the story of how the Deaconate started. The Apostles were trying to do everything themselves—preaching the Gospel, Baptizing the believers, and serving the needs of the poor in the community which was growing by leaps and bounds every day. When people started complaining that the distribution of goods was unfair and unsmooth, they knew they needed help. The Apostles ordained 7 guys to do the service part of the mission for the poor and needy of the community.
The Greek word, “diakonia” means service. The word Deacon comes from that word. In the Catholic Church, deacons are expected to serve the community, but they also have a role in the Liturgy. It’s their job to read the Gospel, sometimes to preach, to be the Minister of the Cup at Eucharist, and to read the General Intercessions. The Deacon’s job of reading of the Intercessions dates back to as early at the 2nd Century—Justin Martyr tells us in his account of a Eucharistic Celebration that he wrote in his first “Apology” (apology in this case meaning, “an explanation,” not, “saying sorry”). It’s amazing how close the Mass is to that account—almost identical, really. Anyhow, it was the Deacons’ job to read the Intercessions because they were the ones who knew the needs of the community. It’s still their job because of the nature of their current ministry.
Our Deacons continue to provide diakonia. But, we know that it is the job of all of us to participate in this service. Jesus tells us in the Gospel that those who believe in him will do the works that He does, and greater ones. That’s astonishing. We’ll be like people-serving super heroes. Instead of the Bat Signal, we’ll have the Deacon Beacon. Well, maybe not… but, if we follow Jesus’ example of service, we’re bound to do extraordinary things. It helps to know that it doesn’t all rest on us—as Jesus says, “The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.” If we allow God to live in us, God will work through us. All we have to do is be willing to serve, put ourselves out there, and God will fill in the blanks.