Today, I am sharing a reflection by Pat Nakagawa, a deacon candidate for the Diocese of Knoxville, from our diaconate formation weekend on Pastoral Care. Pat is a parishioner at All Saints parish in Knoxville.
“We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves; let each of us please our neighbor for the good, for building up. For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, ‘The insults of those who insult you fall upon me.'” Romans 15:1-3
Today’s reading sets up our weekend class on Pastoral Care with Paul delivering to the Romans a message of “Love your neighbor and Love God.”
The reading starts with identifying the strong in faith, those who have turned to Christ, and the weak in faith, those who continue to follow the laws of Moses. The message is that the strong are not to put down the weak, but are responsible for raising them up, elevating them.
Paul then tells us that Jesus did not bring the focus upon Himself. Instead, He pointed to God, He elevated God.
Together, this reading contains the great commandments, Love neighbor and Love God.
This is where today’s reading compliments our class on Pastoral Care.
I believe all of us here are in the category of being strong in faith. As such, we have a responsibility to be patient with those who are weak in faith. We have a duty and obligation to love them and accept their failings. As well-formed men, our is not to flaunt five years of training and education by pointing out the philosophical flaws with their arguments for the existence of God. Ours is not to chastise altar servers for not incensing properly. Ours is to show love and compassion.
As a volleyball coach, our club director had a saying: “You don’t want to be a volleyball player’s last coach.” You did not want to be the reason that a player decided to quit playing volleyball. You did not want to be that person who provided them with such a poor experience that these girls decided to quit something they loved at the beginning of the season.
I would say that our mission as deacons should be the same. “We never want to be a person’s last deacon they speak to.” We do not want to be the person who drives someone out of the Church. In trying to show them how much we have learned in class, we don’t want to be the one who fails to show them God’s love.
Our job as deacons is to provide pastoral care to the sheep we shepherd.
- to provide comfort for the suffering
- to provide guidance, to heal, to reconcile, to sustain
- to find their trauma, to collaborate, to facilitate Trauma Informed Care
My brothers, let us yearn for every bit of wisdom this weekend to bring us into the company of the Strong Christians.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.