His Excellency, The Most Reverend Glen John Provost, Bishop of Lake Charles, ordained Reverend Mr. Stephen Joshua Page to the Transitional Diaconate for the Diocese of Lake Charles on Saturday, June 4, 2022, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Bishop Provost's homily from the Ordination Mass follows:
Bishop Glen John Provost, M.A., D.D.
Bishop of Lake Charles
Saturday, June 4, 2022
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Lake Charles, Louisiana
“[W]hoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant.” Matthew 20:26
Our celebration this morning points us in the direction of service. The very word deacon derives from the Greek word for “service.” Our son and brother, Josh, is being ordained to the diaconate. He will be a servant. Let us revisit the heart of our Lord’s teaching on servanthood.
The context for diaconia is found in a teaching on Jesus Christ as a ransom, a most intriguing point of departure. Our Lord proclaims that He indeed came not “to be served but to serve” and in so doing “give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). As we are aware, this is a reference to the Suffering Servant in Isaiah (Isaiah 53:10-12). The servant gives his life for the master. The servant lives at the beckoning and call of the one he serves. There is a redemptive dimension, then, to servanthood, in so far as the servant becomes an offering. Our Lord as servant is sacrificial and, likewise, a redeemer. As He has done, so also should we do, for in becoming a servant we imitate the Lord.
Now and, God-willing, in the future as a priest, our son and brother will be called out late at night to attend the dying. He will visit the sick, prepare engaged couples, give instruction to parents for baptism of their infants, and distribute alms to the poor. He will educate children in catechism and spend hours of his time listening to complaints for which he can offer no solution. He will assist in the burying of the dead and console the bereaved. Some of these tasks will be quite rewarding. Others will bring only frustration. With some the results will be slow in coming. With others he will see no results at all. And seen with the eyes of faith, perhaps the miraculous will occur. Our deacon-to-be will perform tasks that he thought impossible. For some he will be recognized and for others someone else will receive credit. He will simply be a servant, and all that he will do must be in union with the chief servant, Jesus Christ. In being the servant, our newly ordained will participate in the ransom paid for our redemption.
What is it like to be a servant? The servants I have known are forgetful of self. They do nothing for recognition. They are virtually invisible. In fact, they want to be so. They go about their duties with no need for congratulations or thanks. This is how we can tell the difference between true shepherds and the thieves and marauders. The true shepherd is not a social climber, in religion only for himself. The true shepherd receives his satisfaction because he has fulfilled the Father’s Will, for which the Father “who sees in secret will repay” (Matthew 6:4).
The selflessness of servanthood requires a depth of relationship with Jesus Christ that plumbs the depths of the ransom. For in this way, the ordained minister identifies with the Person of Jesus Christ. The identification becomes not some superficial feeling of warmth but a deeply rooted union with the Person. The ordained servant becomes one with the “ransom.” This “ransom” is our only true friend, the example of the suffering servant, and the humble reward for a life well lived. That there is reward is the great paradox of Christian vocation. The reward comes from loss, the freedom from the captivity, the healing from the pain, and the empty tomb from the cross.
May the Lord join all the ordained to His ransom, that we will come to know more intimately the price of our salvation and in so doing imitate more perfectly the Servant of servants. Amen.