Bishop Burbidge's Homily for the Transitional Diaconate Ordination Mass

June 2, 2017

The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington, delivered the following homily at the Transitional Diaconate Ordination Mass in Saint Thomas More Cathedral on June 2, 2017:

With profound joy and gratitude, we celebrate the Ordination to the Diaconate of Michael and Christopher, which reminds us of how Jesus sent out His disciples in twos to preach the Gospel. We recall the scene from the Acts of the Apostles in which another famous pair, Peter and John, were sent forth and even in the midst of fierce opposition remained undaunted in their faith and zeal reaching the point where the officials asked: “What are we to do with these men?”

Actually, that is not a question with which the Church struggles. She certainly knows what to do with those ordained, and the specifics are beautifully conveyed in today’s Rite of Ordination and the Readings just proclaimed.

Michael and Christopher, as men configured to Jesus Christ through the Imposition of Hands and Prayer of Ordination, the Church asks you to make the promises of respect and obedience and the commitment to the celibate state so that you will follow the Lord with an undivided heart. The Church calls you to assist me and our priests in the ministry of the Word, of the altar and of charity. Thus, you are bound to teach and preach the Truth and Joy of the Gospel and to imitate the Lord’s humble and sacrificial service, reflected especially through your care of the poor, the sick and the most vulnerable.

And just in case that was not enough, Michael and Christopher, listen to what else is expected of you as conveyed by St. Paul in our Second Reading today: “be dignified, truthful, faithful, temperate and generous.”

As you listen to these various expectations, there may be a tendency to be overwhelmed and to identify with the doubt of the prophet Jeremiah in our First Reading and state reasons why you feel unworthy of God’s call.

Yet, in the midst of all this, the Lord our God provides you with powerful assurances. He says to you, as He did to Jeremiah: “Have no fear because I am with you to deliver you.” In the Gospel, Jesus promises you, as He did, His disciples, that He consecrates you in Truth with the power to sustain the resistance of the world. And Saint Paul provides direction that I hope and pray you will remember each and every day: “Whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies.”

So, that is why, Michael and Christopher, I know that you will remain men who spend time each day before the Blessed Sacrament, who remain fervent in prayer including the Liturgy of the Hours, who receive the daily nourishment of the Holy Eucharist and call continually upon the help and protection of Our Blessed Mother.

How providential that you are ordained as the Church prepares this evening to celebrate the Vigil of the Solemnity of Pentecost, as we rejoice in the gift of the Holy Spirit and the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus to be with us always. Perhaps the words of the Sequence we will pray could be your frequent prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit, Shed a ray of light divine, Shine within these hearts of yours. On us who adore and confess you ever more, give us virtues sure reward and joys that never end.”

Michael and Christopher, the Church asks a great deal of you, but you will never be overwhelmed if you remember the words you heard today: “Whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies.” May the blessings of His Son and the gifts of the Holy Spirit remain with you forever and ever. Amen.