Homily of Bishop Isaac Amani, Bishop of the Diocese of Moshi and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Mbulu; 11th January 2017.
Readings: Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7 and Matthew 9: 35-38
We are gathered here in the Cathedral Church on this happy and joyous occasion to thank God for Stephen Lwebuga, SAC, and Norbert Mukabwa, SAC, who have requested to be ordained deacons. Through a special ritual to be performed they will be empowered to render service on behalf of the Church and with the Church. Their presence here is an indicator that God cares for his people. This is an important day for the Mbulu Diocese and for the Pallottine family. We pray for God’s blessings upon their vocation journey. God calls them to serve his people. God has answered the prayer of his people to send labourers into his vineyard. He called them to give testimony to his Word and by their faith.
The Gospel today tells us how Jesus chose his disciples: “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.”
The ministry of our Lord on earth makes up an integral part of your formation. Teaching, preaching and healing were three important ingredients in the ministry of our Lord in preparing his disciples to truly become salt of the earth and light to the nations. “When he saw the crowds he was moved with pity, for they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd”. Jesus was moved by the plight of his people. They were tired and scattered. In order for us to engage in proper evangelisation we need to read the signs of the times. True gospel preaching will address the real needs that face our people, such as: looking for and bringing back the one who has strayed, healing the wounded, feeding the hungry and affirming the weak ones. Jesus said to his disciples ‘the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. Ask the master of the harvest to send workers to gather his harvest.’ The prayer of Jesus is still relevant in our times. There are many members of the Church who devote their lives to continuing the work of evangelisation in different ways. Parents play a crucial role in preparing their children in the way of faith through prayer, love of liturgies, love for God and people, and good manners while in the church. Adults have also a duty to lead a life full of love, justice and humility before God. Those who are consecrated are called to lead lives worthy of their consecration and to share the values of the Gospel. Our society need to hear the Word of God. The role of Catechists, who are teachers of the faith, and of the clergy, is to empower all the faithful to stand firm in their faith.
We heard in the first reading that as the number of disciples grew some people complained that their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. To address the matter the twelve summoned the whole body of disciples to choose seven respected men, full of wisdom and spirit. They laid hands on them and prayed over them. Their task as deacons was to attend to the needs of the community and the Apostles continued with the ministry of prayer and the Word. And we hear from this reading that the Word of God continued to spread, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly.
Your ministry as deacons is to preach the Gospel. We need full-time workers in the vineyard of the Lord. The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. We need good and well-disposed ministers in schools, in small Christian communities, hospitals, prisons and in various Christian communities.
We thank the Lord for calling these young men. They are being ordained as we prepare to celebrate 150 years of evangelisation in mainland Tanzania in 2018 and 100 years since the first native Tanzanian was ordained to the priesthood. Your presence here is a testimony of God’s answer to the prayer of his people. We wish you God’s blessings and I ask you to collaborate with the priests in the parishes where you will be assigned to work. I wish to thank your parents for the good accompaniment and formation they gave to you their children. We wish you God’s blessings in your vocation.