So, to my brothers Manuel, Manuel, Tom, Herschel, Jack, Steve, Forrest, Dan, Marcel, Paul, John, John, John, George, Gene, Roger, Willie Willis, Ricardo, and Billy, Happy Anniversary! Today I also remember our departed classmates: Gerry, Scott, and Aniceto.
In a still very relevant New Testament word study, “Behind the Word ‘Deacon’: A New Testament Study,” published in 1983, D. Edmond Hiebert notes that the Greek personal noun διάκονος, which transliterates to diakonos and comes into English as “deacon,” occurs in the New Testament thirty times. Those passages in the New Testament, apart from the Gospels, in which this word or one of its variants, shows that most occurrences do not refer to an office, ministry, or any official role in the nascent Christian community. Hiebert also asserts that “deacon” must be differentiated from “slave,” at least in 1 Philippians 1:1, where Paul seems to refer “deacon” as an office in the church. The word “deacon” in the New Testament generally denotes a voluntary servant, a minister, an attendant; only occasionally, as in 1 Timothy 3:8, does “deacon” refer to an office, as it does in Philippians 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3:12. As a voluntary servant, or minister, a deacon, according to Hiebert, is distinct from a slave. The ancient Greek word for “slave” is doulos. This distinction helps demonstrate that the term “deacon,” as it is used in ancient Christian sources, cannot be equated to “servant,” without a certain qualification. So, the deacon is one who is called forward to serve others. As Herbert Vorgrimler wrote: “In his person, the deacon makes it clear that the liturgy must have consequences in the world with all its needs, and that work in the world that is done in a spirit of charity has a spiritual dimension.”Ad multos annos dear brothers!