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​Peace is the gift we all want in a broken and divided world, archbishop tells deacon candidates

November 19, 2021 | posted by Today's Catholic newspaper

Topics: Archbishop, In the Press, Vocations, Breaking News

Peace is the gift we all want in a broken and divided world, archbishop tells deacon candidates 

Permanent deacon candidates were installed into the ministry of lectors and acolytes at a liturgy on October 30 in which Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS, emphasized witness and peace from those serving at the altar.

The archbishop described how recently there has been a decline in COVID-19 cases all over the country and in San Antonio, and the fear which was there as cases increased once again in late summer and early fall is slowly giving way to a new hope.

“Although we know we still have a ways to go and we must still sacrifice in order to keep the virus under control, at least we are beginning to hope things can return to what they were,” he said. “It is hard for us to believe we may be turning a new and hopeful page.”

A fearful feeling giving way to an unbelievable hope is what happened in the resurrection appearance in the Gospel of Luke at the liturgy. The risen Jesus gives hope to the confused, discouraged and fearful disciples. In the section of the Gospel leading up to the reading, Luke is similar to John’s resurrection story, where Jesus shows his wounds, but this time a few different things happen. Luke says they think they see a ghost and are terrified.

“The apostles could not grasp what had happened. It was hard for them to really believe Jesus was alive,” Archbishop Gustavo explained. “They were in turmoil and in fear. Jesus starts again as in other resurrection appearances with, “Peace be with you.’”

In the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, this peace was the message of the angels to the shepherds announcing the Messiah’s birth. Jesus brings peace at His birth and gives peace at His resurrection.

“Peace comes when things are right between us and God and between us and our neighbor. As the angels said, the message was for people of good will. Peace means we work in good will to do the right things,” the archbishop added.

He recalled that there have been many examples of this during the past year and a half of the pandemic, and he asked attendees to think of one or two things that have impressed them the most, such as health care personnel risking their lives to serve patients and many more people going above and beyond to help others in crisis.

Archbishop Gustavo told the future deacons that, in a special way, they are being invited to become more and more connected with the suffering servant Jesus, whom they will imitate in ministry.

Pope Francis said at this past Easter, “The disciples received the mercy of Jesus at Easter through three gifts. Jesus offers them peace, then the Spirit, and finally his wounds.” The pope goes on to say, “Today Jesus tells us, ‘peace be with you!’ and ‘you have a mission.’ ”

At the liturgy the men received the ministries of lector and acolyte; ministries that they will exercise at the eucharistic gathering.

“The eucharistic is our moment to experience the resurrection appearances. It is our moment at the table with the Lord. It is the time to receive the peace of Christ and to commit ourselves to share that peace,” the Missionary of the Holy Spirit shared. “Peace is living in right relationship with God and showing that in our relationships with each other. Jesus is with us in the Eucharist. He is alive and shares his life with us. You must witness that more intensely from here on.”

He continued, “To be human is also to be wounded as Jesus was. The wounds are physical as we see in sickness and injury, but they are also emotional and spiritual. Woundedness is part of the human condition. To help heal wounds we must reach out and connect our humanity with the humanity of the other. After all, that is what we all share. Before we are rich or poor, black or white, Asian or Hispanic we are all human. Jesus’ wounds remind us of the need to recognize suffering and do what we can to heal it.”

The San Antonio prelate connected this to what happened last spring here in the city when 1,500 unaccompanied migrant adolescent boys, mostly from Central America, were housed temporarily at the Freeman Coliseum exhibit halls. “There were many volunteers spending hours helping them feel some sense of humanity in a foreign country and on an uncertain journey. It was a sharing of humanity to help bring about some sense of peace in their young lives,” he said. “All those volunteers serving and sacrificing themselves were a sign of hope and a new sense of solidarity with those who were suffering and on a long journey.”

The other part of our humanity is to listen to the other, Archbishop Gustavo pointed out. “It helps us understand the often painful existence of so many people who suffer in other parts of the world. We often do not listen very well. The apostles had to overcome fears, misconceptions and even prejudices to really listen,” he said. “They then could understand it was Jesus who was with them. They also had to listen to his mission to them in order to fully grasp what they were to spend the rest of their lives doing. If we listen we will be better witnesses.”

“Have we taken time to really listen to the humanity of the other during these months of COVID?” the archbishop asked, adding, “How do I witness to repentance and the forgiveness of sins so that there is the peace of Christ?”

Archbishop Gustavo replied that the young migrants who arrived after a long journey just wanted peace in their lives and a chance to develop their gifts and talents for a good future. “They felt some human connection as they were cared for under difficult circumstances. Those who have stayed mostly home during COVID and yearn to interact with others miss the human connection as well. We have a lot of opportunity to show the best of our humanity to others right now.”

The archbishop asked his listeners to think of how they as future deacons can share the peace, compassion and humanity of the risen Lord with others in their lives.

“May La Virgen de Guadalupe, who encouraged Juan Diego to be a witness to her son, give each of us the gift to also witness the peace of Jesus in our ministry and in our lives,” he prayed.