Anne Lastman A Reflection “Peter,” The Holy Father, Pope Francis, without breaking the line of…
Diakonia a Greek word for “service” especially to one’s community of brothers and sisters. Within a community God will manifest His many gifts, giving or even enhancing to some or to each their own special talent. Within a community the donation of gifts by the Holy Spirit is done so that all may benefit from the special charism, (1Cor. 14:4-6) but more especially so that pride may not be found in its members.
The Holy Spirit distributes His gifts where He will so that the whole body may be served for the good of all (1Cor. 12:7). Therefore the gifts distributed to an individual is not particular to that individual or for that individual’s benefit or profit but to be at the service of the brothers and sisters. The people do not choose gifts but it is the Spirit who chooses the recipient of the gift.
Because the Church is the “body of Christ” and its individual members are part of this whole “body” so too the gifts are for the “whole body” and all the “parts” (or members) are to be concerned for each other (1Cor.12: 25).
The guiding principle of the charisms is the action that the gifts will accomplish for and on behalf of the body, that is, that all may be done for the upbuilding, maintenance and edification of all within the living organism the “body of Christ.”
Whilst St. Paul does name and number some gifts and names some as more superior, e.g. (apostles, prophets, teachers) and those for the spiritual development of humankind (proclamation of the word gifts), he continues by suggesting that even though some charisms may appear superior to others indeed there is one gift which is far more superior than all of them. LOVE. Which is “a still more excellent way.” (1Cor.12:31)
All charisms are directed towards the service of all others however, LOVE, is directed towards God and neighbour. LOVE always acts vertically rather than horizontally, that means heavenward, because all ministries are designed to be beacons directing those on the journey and the journey must end. However, when that journey ends all that remains is the love shown, experienced, and shared, along the way. All manner of service ends but Love cannot because Love returns to Love.
Diakonia for me seems to speak of service to the other but Diakonia like Koinonia and Sacrament have a deeper meaning. The reality of Diakonia (service) is that it is a service carried out in the dimension of the Cross, and for members of the household of God. There is a dimension to Diakonia, which is not found in any other service industry.
This kind of “service” has the imagery of Jesus with the towel wrapped around his waist washing feet. It is the “master” serving the “slave” This dimension of service can only be found where the “body” has taken the Lord’s word seriously. It is love in the dimension of or service to the cross.
Whilst the diaconate (deacons) were established for a service to the body, they understood the service to be a command from their Lord. This service was not a service based on mundane outcomes (even though it could involve mundane outcomes) but a service, which elevated mundane actions to supernatural outcomes. This service was done because of the “better way” Love. This service was to be done because “love” was and is the propelling motive, and the fuel propelling love, is Jesus Christ. To be able to serve “the enemy” is to be of service in the dimension of love.
New Revised Standard Version.