Diaconate Ordination

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Mark Hellinger and Brian Isenbarger

The words of Jesus to the disciples resonate for us today at this Ordination Mass. “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”

God, the master of the harvest, has heard the prayers of the faithful of our diocese for laborers for His harvest. He has called Mark and Brian to be these laborers in His vineyard and they have freely and generously answered that call.

The harvest is an image for bringing people into the kingdom of God. Jesus Himself was the laborer bringing in this harvest. As we heard in the Gospel, “Jesus went about to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and curing every disease and illness.” Our Lord was in contact with many people and saw their needs and sufferings. The Gospel tells us that “He was moved with pity for them.” The Greek verb actually has the connotation that Jesus was profoundly moved in the depths of His heart because the people were troubled and abandoned, hurting and distressed. Jesus had the deepest compassion for them. This is important for our understanding of ordained ministry in the Church. The laborers the Lord calls are to share in His mission, to carry it on, and to have the sentiments, the attitude and the intent of Jesus. They are to be His emissaries as laborers who proclaim His Gospel, bring people into His Kingdom, lift their burdens, give them His healing and mercy, drive out evil and bear His gift of salvation. This is what Jesus empowered the apostles to do and what He empowers their successors to do as well through the sacrament of Holy Orders, the sacrament of apostolic ministry in its three grades of episcopate, presbyterate and diaconate.

Being emissaries of Jesus through the apostolic ministry cannot be done by one’s own human powers. Divine grace is needed. Brian and Mark receive this grace today, the grace of Holy Orders according to its first grade, the diaconate. They will receive strength from the Lord to serve His people in communion with me and our presbyterate in the service of the word, of the liturgy and of charity. They are called to have the heart of Jesus the servant, the heart which was moved with the deepest compassion for the troubled and abandoned who were like sheep witho