Year A: Fifth Sunday of Easter
First Reading: Acts 6: 1-7
The First Reading continues our journey through the Acts of the Apostles - and the growing Church is beginning to suffer the fate of most human organisations - one group feeling that they are being unfairly treated.
Perhaps, it is good for us to know that even in the heady-days of the early Church there were problems!
The solution offered by the Twelve was straightforward and simple - they discerned that their ministry was the proclamation of the Gospel. They also discerned that the complainants had a case - but that it was not in their gift to meet it. They began to realise that the Church was going to need a multitude of gifts and ministries if it was to flourish and all its need to be met.
The community recognised the need and approved of the solution and chose from their number people who were already recognised as men of good character. The community brought these men to the apostles who laid hands on them and commissioned them as deacons to undertake the charitable work of the Church.
These men included Stephen who was to become the first Christian martyr.
For many years, the role of “deacon” was a prelude to ordination to the priesthood. One of the gifts of the Second Vatican Council was the re-establishment of the permanent diaconate to the life of the Church. Such deacons can be single or married and form part of the clergy in a diocese.
It seems that the Church is again recognising that it needs a variety of people fulfilling a variety of ministries in order that that the proclamation of the Gospel may continue into its third millennium.
What does it mean for me?
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