“You will always remain a servant of the Lord and an instrument of salvation”
KORAZIM – On Saturday, December 7, 2019, the diaconal ordination of the Colombian seminarian Mateo Alvarez Serna was celebrated at the Domus Galilaeae; the ceremony was presided over by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
“Having always a heart full of hope”; “not feeling ever that you’re already there, but coming back to the Jordan river” in order to renew conversion; “knowing how to see the presence and work of the Lord in all of one’s own history”; and through concrete perseverance, “making space for the Word of Salvation that grows, and makes of you the servant that the Church is in need of”.
These are in short, the exhortative and congratulatory remarks addressed by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa to Mateo Alvarez Serna, on the occasion of his diaconal ordination, which was celebrated Saturday evening, the 7th of December in the church of the Domus Galilaeae, on the Mount of Beatitudes.
Mateo is the fifteenth to be ordained from the Redemptoris Mater of Galilee; the missionary seminary open also to both Maronite (one priest has been already ordained) and Greek-Catholic candidates alike. He will carry out his diaconal ministry at Rameh in Galilee.
Last year he attained his bachelor’s in Sacred Theology, and fulfilled his pastoral experience at the Latin Parish of Eilat, and later on at the Syriac-Catholic Cathedral in Egypt.
The eight years of formation in the seminary were all the more enriched by the spiritual and human experience that he lived, according to what the statutes of the Redemptoris Mater foresee, within the itinerary of faith in the Neocatecumenal Way. That’s also why present at the ordination, apart from the seminarians and priests of the Latin Patriarchate, were also the brothers from the Neocatecumenal Communities of Eilabun, Haifa, and Shefa’mer, along with the brothers and sisters that serve at the Domus Galilaeae.
In his homily, that focused on the readings of the second Sunday of Advent, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa highlighted the tight link present between prophet Elijah and John the Baptist; between the Old and the New Testament, therefore underlining the importance of knowing to see such unity in all of the history of redemption, which is also our own personal history. “The history of salvation is not doubled – said the Archbishop – it is but one. There is a singular red thread that runs along from the books of Genesis to Revelation, and up until our present day”. Then, having addressed Mateo, he exhorted him to recognize the red thread with which God has accompanied his steps from the beginning until today; to see the Lord’s presence in all of life’s circumstances, as well as how he works and will continue to work.
“We always talk about our perseverance, but we should also speak about God’s perseverance with us; that He’s patient, that He always respects our liberty, and that He is always awaiting. In advent, we await the coming of God, yet there’s also an advent in which He awaits our reply.
In our lives, we await our small sized salvations, we have our small little hopes of getting by, of being able to do who knows what, observed the Archbishop once more in his homily. The address made to Mateo, is to always have a heart full of that true and great hope, that “tastes of eternity, and will make you capable of, in any experience you may live even where there will be desolation, of seeing the work of God.”
His recommendation to the new deacon, was to never feel like he’s already there: “You will always be in need of conversion, of coming back to the Jordan River, asking forgiveness for your sins and making experience of salvation”. Such experience that has been made, needs to be renewed daily, “with both patience and perseverance, that are not just feelings, but rather, an attitude that necessitates concrete gestures”: It is necessary to “have a moment only for the Lord, making space in the heart for that Word of Salvation that will grow, nourish your life, and will make of you the servant that the Church is in need of”. Wherever you will go, you will remain the Lord’s servant, an instrument of salvation for so many people that through you, will have an experience of salvation in Christ”.
Being in a state of great recollection, the assembly accompanied the liturgy of the diaconal ordination: the questions on assuming the promises from the candidate’s part, the litanies of the Saints, the laying on of hands, the prayer of consecration, the investiture with stole and dalmatic, and lastly, the handing on of the book of Gospels, together with that last exhortation that both summarizes and seals through the rite itself, the call to unity between faith and life: “Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”
The celebration was brought to a close with a canticle to the Holy Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven; the date being the vigil of December 8th, that is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and the 60th anniversary this year, of when Kiko Argüello, initiator of the Neocatecumenal Way, received the inspiration from the Virgin Mary.