Homily for the Rite of Deacon Ordination
March 9, 2003 At Tachikawa Catholic Church
Every year, on the first Sunday of Lent,
we announce how Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness before he began his ministry. According to the Gospel of Matthew and Luke, during these days Jesus was tempted by the Devil 3 times and defeated those temptations. One of the temptations was “If you kneel down and worship me, all the power and all the wealth will be yours”. Jesus rejected this temptation by quoting The Book of Deuteronomy, saying, ”You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve”.
Today’s Gospel reading is from Mark. Jesus declares, “The right time has come, and the Kingdom of God is near! Turn away from your sins and believe the Good News!” By saying these words Jesus Christ started his evangelizing mission.
The Kingdom of God is as same as the Reign of God. This means the accomplishment of the will of God. The Whole life of Jesus was given to worship the Lord God and to do his will. The evangelical activities of Jesus and the existence of Jesus himself were showing the Coming of God’s Kingdom. Jesus was the realization of God’s Reign itself.
Our church inherits the evangelizing mission of Jesus, though there is a difference between the church and Jesus. Whereas Jesus was the Coming Kingdom itself, the church is a sign of the Coming Kingdom. The church is not God’s Kingdom itself, but the God’s people proving that Kingdom is already coming. Worship God as God to become a sign of the Coming Kingdom is the way the church should be.
At the Extraordinary Bishops’ Meeting that was held last February, there was an instructive studying program about “addiction symptom”. The word “addiction” is translated in Japanese as “shiheki (habit), izon (dependence)” and also as “ addiction (rendered in katakana script)”. For example, there is a word “alcohol izon-sho (alcohol dependence syndrome)”.
Addiction symptom can be classified into several types, such as addiction to matters like alcohols, addiction to acts like gambles, and addiction to human relationship. It is impossible for us to live without eating. We need to have a job. We cannot live another day without a helping hand of others. Therefore, it is neither unnatural nor wrong that one depends on something or somebody. But if we cross over our limit the dependence will turn out to a symptom of addiction. For only God is what we worship, we should keep an appropriate distance from the people or matters apart from God. The right relations between the existences of the world as matters, acts and human could be built only on the faith of worshiping God as God.
Masato John Ap. Hayashi,
You are now being assigned to the mission as to serve as a Deacon among this people of God. As a Cooperator of the Bishop, Deacon is expected to serve the mission of becoming a witness of the Coming Kingdom and the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. For this mission cannot be done with ease, we shall pray God for his help and grace. Without God’s grace we are not able to accomplish this mission.
Due to the possible war, the World is now in a critical situation. This situation is not what God have wanted. The Society of Japan is too facing the severe reality. We are living under the circumstance that is far beyond the Kingdom of God. Even the family, which is supposed to be the most important support and comfort for human, is now facing a difficult situation.
We the Church are now standing under these kind of world and social situation. As individuals, we too are involved in various problems and struggling for solution and liberation. The church is the people of God that travels setting out for the completion of God’s Kingdom. It is the people of God that endeavor to believe, accept and prove the reign of God even when they are standing in front of the problems.
Mr. Hayashi, please worship only God and try to maintain all God’s creation at a good distance and evaluate them just as they are. If you try to live like this, I believe, your existence and speech and behavior will become the sign of consolation, encouragement, remedy and salvation for many people.
I sincerely pray God to pour help and grace abundantly on your paths ahead.