My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
St. Paul was a tentmaker by trade. His reference to a tent in this Scripture passage speaks uniquely to the Corinthians because tents were common homes for many when Jesus lived on this earth. But our earthly abode is transitory, as we know all too well from the hurricanes we have experienced in Florida. Looking upon our possessions, what is the greatest? St. Paul reminds us that no earthly thing is everlasting, but our faith in our triune God sustains us on earth and in heaven.
Pope Francis said, “Jesus is Love incarnate. He is not simply a teacher of wisdom, he is not an ideal for which we strive while knowing that we are hopelessly distant from it. He is the meaning of life and history, who has pitched His tent in our midst.” St. Paul speaks to the tent which Christ pitched in our midst. He is talking about all the ways we witness to God in our daily living. St. Paul preaches and lives out his new identity in Christ for the sake of God’s glory and out of love for his neighbors.
On Saturday, June 9, I will ordain eight men to the Order of the Permanent Diaconate: Louis Bartos, Thomas Cuff, Mark Fry, Hector Isaza, Anthony Medina, Wilmar Rojas, Edward Struttmann, Wilfrid Tilus. These men and their families have journeyed together for many years and entered into a deeper relationship with God to ultimately respond Yes! to the call to Ordination as a Permanent Deacon of the Catholic Church. Their earthly dwelling, a tent, is like the tent to which St. Paul and Pope Francis refer: the tent of Christ which is everlasting. This tent, the body of Christ, is not one to stand still, but to yield to God’s call to holiness.
These men and their families live in various parts of the diocese, from east to west to north to south. They were born in the United States, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Haiti. They work in for and not-for profit organizations. If you speak with any of them, you will discover that their identity is not grounded in where they live or lived or their occupations. Their identity is grounded in their love of God and their desire to serve God. Each one of them recognizes that this love must begin with their families, with those who live with them in the tent.
Becoming a Permanent Deacon is not specific to the discerner alone. It is a journey of love of God with him and his family. Each spouse takes participation in this journey and regularly attends classes so that the couple grows through this process of discernment and together they commit to this life of service.
Deacons are ordained to the ministries of the word, of the liturgy, and of charity, calling all to conversion and holiness. The word deacon itself comes from the Greek word diakonos, which means “servant,” or “helper.” In the days of the early Church, deacons traditionally helped the local bishop. The first deacons were active in helping the poor and needy of the community. Today, these ordained men build up the Church and attend to its continual sanctification by “all the powers which they have received from the goodness of the Creator and from the grace of the Redeemer”. Their daily living is a witness to their love of God, whether they are at home or church, in the grocery store, working in their profession, at rest or at play. They are an example of the fullness of the call to holiness.
May our tents be borderless as we build the Kingdom of God.
By Bishop John Noonan – June 6, 2018