On the second Sunday of the Great Lent, the 20th of March 2022, the clergy and the faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese had tremendous spiritual joy with the ordination of a new Deacon of the Archdiocese, Deacon Jason Israel.
Many faithful from different parishes had gathered at St Nicholas Church in Punchbowl to pray for the newly elected Deacon and proclaim the Axios! He is worthy! for their friend and brother.
During the Divine Liturgy and after the sanctification of the Holy Oblation, the new Deacon knelt down at the Holy table while His Eminence Metropolitan Basilios laid his hand on his head imploring that:
“The divine grace, which always heals that which is infirm and completes that which is lacking, ordains the most devout Subdeacon Jason to the office of Deacon”.
After that, the whole flock proclaimed Axios, Moustahek, while our Chief Shepherd handed the items of the diaconate vestment to the newly ordained Deacon Jason.
His Eminence Metropolitan Basilios, in his guiding speech, reminded the Deacon about his patron, Saint Jason of Thessalonica. Saint Jason was one of the Seventy Apostles and was Saint Paul’s host in Thessalonica.
His Eminence said that when the Apostles elected the new deacons, they chose them as “men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom”. And that Saint Stephen was “a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit”.
So, those were the criteria they were required for someone who was nominated to this holy service, to serve as a deacon: of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom,
Do we have these criteria in this new Deacon? We pray that the Divine Grace, which always completes that which is lacking, will grant Deacon Jason what he is missing.
His Eminence added: “It is true these deacons have been chosen “to serve tables”, but this does not mean, however, that these diaconal ministers did nothing but “serve tables”, Stephen and Philip are both found preaching and teaching also, as can be seen in chapters 6 through 8 of Acts.”
His Eminence concluded his fatherly speech to the new Deacon by saying, “Dear Deacon Jason, our people and especially our youth are thirsty to hear and learn about their faith and Church. God gave you this talent to teach with humility, patience and love. Do not trust yourself but rather trust the One who chose you for this ministry. Our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ”.
In his ordination speech, newly ordained Deacon Jason first expressed his gratitude to His Eminence Metropolitan Basilios:
“Your patience, encouragement and leadership have been an inspiration and tangible Christ-like example for us”.
“Thank you, Your Eminence, for showing me the power of God in the face of darkness and devastation”.
Next, to his wife Diana, he thanked her for her “patience, love and respect”. He thanked his parents, George and Zahour, sister and brother, extended family, uncles, aunties, and cousins.
Then to his Spiritual Father, Father Michal;
“As my spiritual guide, most of your teaching has been without words, and you have shown me what it means to bring the presence of Christ to people through the ministry”.
Then the newly ordained Deacon shared his experience and reflection on his life in the Church:
“When I came back to myself and connected with our Church, something in me was activated. I didn’t understand it at the time, but later on, I realised that it was the gift of the Holy Spirit and the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. As time went on, it became clearer that our Lord Jesus Christ has always been with me even before I knew Him or sought Him”.
He concluded by saying:
“I truly believe that our Lord is knocking on the door of your hearts and calling each one of you. I mean to say that you all have an invitation and place in His Kingdom; not everyone will be a Priest or Deacon; it is not about that. It is about having your life centred on Jesus Christ, being close to His Church and finding the unique way to glorify Him in your lives, at all times and in all places. I encourage you to pray and seek our Lord; He is waiting for you and will give you His peace”.