Last weekend, the celebration of the Good Shepherd gave us an opportunity to reflect upon the priesthood of Jesus Christ and the priest’s participation as God’s instrument. This weekend, we are able to continue this reflection. Our readings, especially the first reading, talk about having others join Apostles in their ministry as a way to help prevent the Apostles from neglecting good works. This reference of joining the Apostles is specifically in reference to men being called to serve as deacons and our reading continues an explicit naming of the first men to be called and ordained to the Order of Deacons. However, this reference can serve as an implicit reminder of the role that each of us plays in building up the Kingdom of God.
St Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, is very clear that the seven men called to be deacons will serve in a unique way. The calling of these seven men will allow the Apostles to dedicate themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word while the deacons would dedicate themselves to the service of the table and the distribution of the goods to the disciples (also known as followers of the way). Each group serves in a way that is unique to themselves and to their calling.
The same is for all of us. At our baptism, we became disciples of Christ and we were sent out to share in the building up of the Kingdom of God. Each of us does this in a way that is unique to us. We use our own gifts and talents, we use our own callings and vocations, we use our own positions and careers. Within all of that, we all have different roles. These different roles are not in contradiction but complement each other.
You will never no why you were called to be a priest but your ministry may be the only thing that brings about the conversion of one person
The role of the Deacons, as related in the First Reading, complemented the role of the Apostles. Each one was unique and different but each one allowed for the Disciples of Christ to build up the Kingdom of God. Our roles, as Disciples of Christ, are unique to us and the state in life that we live but our roles are complementary with each other. If we seek to build up the Kingdom of God according to a role that is not proper to us or our state in life, we will never fully build up the Kingdom of God. If the Apostles sought to fulfill the role of the Deacon, as they did at the beginning of the First Reading, they would not have been able to fulfill their role and by that action they would never have been able to fully build up the Kingdom of God.
One of the priests on the formation staff at the Pontifical North American College would always say, “You will never no why you were called to be a priest but your ministry may be the only thing that brings about the conversion of one person. Only you might be able to bring about that conversion because of who you are, your personality, your strengths, your relationship with that person, etc.” We may never know the impact that we have upon a group of people, or even a single person, but God might be using you, in the role that He has invited you to participate in, to bring about the conversion and faith of one person.
Allow the virtue of humility to motivate you to respond to the invitation from God to build up the Kingdom of God. God is using all of us with our own roles to build it up. Play your part as His disciple by understanding your role and by living it.