“By the imposition of the bishop’s hands and the specific prayer of consecration, the deacon receives a particular configuration to Christ, the Head and Shepherd of the Church, who for love of the Father made himself the least and the servant of all.” — John Paul II
The pope’s comment points to the leadership role of the deacon in the church community. If a deacon is to be a leader in Christ’s image, he must initially and continually surrender power and take the position of the servant, one without power. This is the kenosis that we all learned of in our formation, an active self-emptying that goes beyond the acceptance of powerlessness and results in an actual strengthening of service. It becomes a source of creative energy for the good of the Church.
Our self-emptying is not something done in order to simply lose ourselves, but rather to find ourselves. As did Jesus, the more we empty ourselves, the more we find ourselves in God. In our ministries, then, we do not do social justice ministry simply for the sake of social justice (social workers do this), but we do it so others may be drawn up into the Paschal Mystery, the dying and rising of Christ, along with us. Here we find the theotic aspect of our diaconal leadership which we hold in dynamic tension with the kenotic.
Let us pray that we bring this kind of leadership to the communities we serve.