“Mommy, where do deacons come from?” Today’s first reading tells us that very thing! We get an idea of what it means to live “diakonia”; Christian service, and how to let God build us into “a spiritual house”; shelters for the poor and needy. Jesus tells us that besides us being a home for others, he built a home for us in heaven.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men…
Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
1 Peter 2:4-9
Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house
I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
When the Christian community began to grow exponentially, there came a need for an infrastructure. Their two main functions were to share the Gospel, and take care of the poor. But, when you start converting 3,000 people at a clip, the jobs become overwhelming for just twelve guys. People began to complain that they weren’t having their needs met fast enough, or that they were being overlooked, so the Apostles told the community to choose seven good men who would take care of the poor so that the Apostles could focus on their preaching. The role of the seven men grew into the role of deacons; men who offer their service to the Church while often also having a family and a job outside the Church, too. They have ministerial jobs in the Church, and also serve at Mass and can baptize and witness marriages.
The second reading tells us to be living stones built into a dwelling place for the Spirit. Our foundation is the Cornerstone—Jesus, who holds everything together. In our baptism we are called to service, and to be, “‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises’ of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” We are called to allow ourselves to be a safe haven for others; like the Apostles and early Deacons by sharing the Gospel and serving the poor.
Jesus tells the Apostles in today’s Gospel that he has prepared a place for them in heaven and that, to find their way, they have only to follow his path. Do you know what it is? It’s to serve the poor! Just like the rest of the readings’ message. If we have seen Jesus, we have seen the Father, and if people see Jesus in us through our service, we are showing them the face of God.
Does your Church have Deacons? If it does, stop and thank a Deacon for his service today. Maybe draw a picture of him (or them) serving your parish.
The cornerstone of an arch is the slightly odd shaped one in the center. It takes all of the pressure of the arch onto itself and holds the whole thing up. If you’ve even seen ancient ruins that have arches, very often the arches are still standing while the rest of the building has fallen. If you are a spiritual dwelling as the second reading says, how would having Jesus as your cornerstone make you stronger? How would it help you to carry stress and pressure?
What do you think Jesus could possibly have meant when he said that, “whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.”? How does doing good works point the way to the Father for those who are the recipients of your good works? In what ways have you been a shelter for the needy–spiritual or material (or both)?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”