Preached at Holy Sepulcher Parish on July 6 and 7, 2013 for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C at the 6:00PM (Vigil), 8:00AM and 10:30AM Masses, my first Masses at Holy Sepulcher Parish
Often when you get a deacon, you also get a deacon’s wife. It’s kind of like one of those buy one get one free deals at the grocery store. When you have a vocation to be a deacon, your calling comes through your wife and your marriage, but my vocation would not have even possible without my wife Karen. She helped me study, edited my papers, coordinated my schedule, did whatever was needed to make sure I was ready…everything. She is still helping me. You get to hear the homily once, but she has heard it so many times this week she knows it better than I do.It is very appropriate that we have this Gospel reading today on my first weekend as your deacon, because the sending of the seventy-two disciples is often associated with the ministry of deacons. Jesus sends the seventy-two to proclaim the Good News, the same mission given to deacons by the bishop at their ordination. In fact every portion of the Rite of Ordination of a deacon is repeated at the ordination of a priest, except for the Presentation of the Book of the Gospels, when the bishop hands the book to the deacon and says, “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”
Deacons are not just to know the Gospels, we are to share them and live them.
In today’s Gospel, the twelve apostles have a big problem as they are trying to share the Good News. As Luke says, “The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few.” There is more work than the apostles can handle. The number of followers is growing very rapidly and their needs are growing right along with them. So Jesus selects seventy-two disciples to help spread the Good News and he sends them out to the surrounding towns. When they return they are rejoicing, not just because they were able to spread the word, but because they are able to do incredible things in Jesus’ name. They are helping to build the Kingdom of God.
There were many pastors in the diocese that had requested one of the newly ordained deacons for their parish, but there were only twenty-five of us available. The Church today faces the same problem that the apostles faced in the 1st Century in trying to spread the Good News, the harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few.
Today’s Gospel is calling everyone, not just deacons, to spread the Good News and build the Kingdom of God. In fact that is the other mission given by the bishop to deacons, to make sure that we are not the only people proclaiming the Good News, to get other people involved. The seventy-two disciples in today’s Gospel are models for each one of us, to go out into the world, into our communities, and spread the Good News and help build the Kingdom of God, to do the work of Jesus and his Church.
Just as the number of followers in today’s Gospel was growing, so are the number of parishioners in our parish (as you can see by the overflow area which is now permanently filled here at Holy Sepulcher). What a wonderful problem it is to have! This is a vibrant parish with so much going on and there are so many opportunities for all of us to grow in our faith. The harvest is certainly abundant, but we need to make sure that the laborers are not too few.
There are many opportunities for each of us to help out, just like the seventy-two disciples. In the bulletin there have been calls for Eucharistic ministers and volunteers for the parish bazaar and working with the youth program. There are also a number of ministries listed in the Church directory that you can volunteer for and participate in. But each one of us as disciples of Christ have been given unique gifts to do something to help spread the Good News and build the Kingdom of God and just like in today’s Gospel, we will be given power by Jesus to do incredible things in his name.
So as we come forward to receive our Lord in the Eucharist today, let us ask him to help us to figure out what our gifts are and we can use them for his Church. If we have felt called to do something in the past, but for whatever reason we never followed through with that call, let us ask the Lord to help us overcome the doubts and other obstacles that prevented us from serving him and his Church.
The difference between the seventy-two disciples and those of us at Holy Sepulcher is that we are a much larger group than seventy-two. We are hundreds, even thousands. If we get involved, we can do so much more than seventy-two. Jesus will make sure of that. If we work together as a parish everyone, including those outside the parish, will certainly know that the Kingdom of God is at hand.
My wife and I are so excited to begin working with all of you. We feel so blessed that the Lord has called me to be a deacon at such a warm, welcoming, and faith-filled parish. As ordination approached, we wondered where I was going to be sent because all the parishes surrounding us already had deacons, including our own parish of St. Catherine of Sweden and also Holy Sepulcher, but God was quietly at work on his plan for my ministry and for your parish in ways that we did not see at the time and in ways we have not yet begun to see.
This is certainly a day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.