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Diaconate Ordination of Tuyen Do and Jeff Hebert

Published: April 8, 2017

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor preached the following homily at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock on Saturday, April 8, 2017. It is based on the following readings: Jeremiah 1:1, 4-9; Ephesians 4:1-7,11-13; and Matthew 9:35-38.


Bishop Taylor

Over the course of the next two months, I will be ordaining six new priests and eight transitional deacons, which gives me the opportunity to speak more extensively about ordained ministry over the course of these ordinations than would be possible in a single homily in a single ceremony.

But what all these ordinations have in common is that through ordination we become a minister of word, sacrament and charity, in which our life becomes a life lived for others.

And so Tuyen and Jeff, in view of the reading from Jeremiah that you chose as the first reading for your ordination, I would like to focus on the fact that today you become an ordained servant of God’s Word, which is another way of saying a servant of God’s will — his will, not your will — for instance, in homilies explaining what the Lord has to say, without twisting it into what Jeff or Tuyen wishes the Lord had said.

What I am trying to say is that while celibacy involves sacrifice and death to self, you will discover it to be a gift that enables you to love others more fully and more freely, your life modeled on Jesus who also was celibate — probably for that very same reason — and who will give you the grace you need to live with total dedication the promises you make today.

This is a real danger, especially when we fear the people are not going to like what Jesus has to say. We like to please people, but Scripture makes it clear that there’s only one person you need to worry about pleasing and that is the Lord.

Tuyen and Jeff, was that in the back of your mind when you chose the call of Jeremiah for your first reading? — in which God says: “To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you.”

Beautiful words, but let’s not forget that Jeremiah did not have an easy go of it. The nation was in crisis, he opposed corruption and idolatry with all his strength, he endured arrest, imprisonment and public disgrace. We see today what a giant he was among the prophets, so we can easily forget that his influence was far greater after his death than before.

Amid all his tribulations, Jeremiah stayed focused on these same two things: 1.) He was a servant of God’s Word no matter what it cost him personally; and 2.) The only one he really had to please was the Lord.

Jeff and Tuyen, as a deacon preparing for the priesthood, you will promise celibacy “for the sake of the kingdom and in lifelong service to God and mankind.” 

Being a celibate involves far more than just being a “confirmed bachelor.”  Some men are bachelors because they are unable to make a permanent commitment, but your promise of celibacy is for life.

Some are bachelors because they are too selfish to make room in their life for anyone else, but your celibacy will free you to make room in your life for far more people than would be possible as a married man or as a confirmed bachelor.

Some remain bachelors because there is no woman good enough for them, but as a celibate you’re not looking for an exclusive relationship with that one perfect woman — which will free you to love even the most unlovable people — whom God loves and entrusts to your care.

What I am trying to say is that while celibacy involves sacrifice and death to self, you will discover it to be a gift that enables you to love others more fully and more freely, your life modeled on Jesus who also was celibate — probably for that very same reason — and who will give you the grace you need to live with total dedication the promises you make today.

And now I would like to address in particular the young men present in our congregation today who are not seminarians — at least not yet. Do you feel the Lord tugging at your heart? Do you feel something personal stirring inside you that you’re afraid to take a look at, maybe because you’re afraid God’s plan for you may be different from what you had in mind?

If so, be courageous, don't give in to fear! Look at all these guys who have already responded! I can assure you: God doesn’t just call. He’s also the one who gives us the courage to say "yes" — like Jeremiah in our first reading and like Tuyen and Jeff today.