Deacons are the Face of the Church in Daily Life
It was with joy that Pope Francis received the IDC delegation for a Private Audience
The presence of the Holy Father made a great impression on the whole IDC delegation! The Pope followed the speeches by IDC Protector Bishop Gebhard Fürst and IDC President Klaus Kießling with great attention. He then addressed his speech to the IDC representatives.
Dear brothers, dear sisters,
it is with great joy that I welcome you on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the International Diaconate Centre, the jubilee of which you celebrated at the end of last year. Your visit takes place in the Holy Year of Mercy, a spiritual context that invites you to discover anew the importance of mercy in our lives and in our ministry. I thank you for your coming and I wish to thank in particular bishop Fürst and professor Kiessling for their friendly words.
Christ, our Lord, gave the apostles a new commandment:” Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.“ (John13:34). It is Jesus himself who is this „novelty“. He has set us an example that we should do as he did for us (cf. John13:15). This commandment of love is the legacy Jesus has given us, the legacy he gave to his disciples in the upper room after washing their feet. And he underlines once again:“ This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.“ (John15:12)
In doing so, in loving one another the disciples carry on the mission for which the Son of God came into this world. With the help of the Holy Spirit they understand that this command includes serving their brothers and sisters. For this concrete support of he people and their needs the apostles choose some „deacons“, which means servants. The deacons manifest in a special way Jesus’ great commandment: to emulate God who is Love and who, out of this love, goes as far as to serve us. God’s way of acting, his patient and gracious way of acting, full of compassion, and the readiness to make us better must also characterize his servants: the bishops as the successors of the apostles, the priests, their collaborators, just as the deacons in their concrete “waiting on tables” (acts 6:2) It is exactly the deacons who are the face of the church in today’s life; they are a community who lives among people and follows a way in which the one who gives commands is not the greatest, but the one who serves (cf. Luke 22:26)
Dear deacons, I hope that your pilgrimage to Rome during this anniversary year has allowed you to experience deeply God’s mercy and that this may help you to grow in your calling as Christ’s servants. The Lord may support you in your ministry and lead you into an ever deeper confidence in his love, so that you may live this love with joy and devotion. I want you to know that my prayers and blessings will always be with you and I kindly ask you – and this is also a diaconal service I am asking of you: please do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.