Often we play small in the world and don’t respond to our vocation because we feel that we will be rejected or mocked for what we do. In fact, what I would say right up front, is that I admire and acknowledge the heroic amount of courage needed for a young man or woman to respond to the vocations especially of priesthood or religious life. A young man whom I know from my former parish assignment was known as “priest boy” by his friends and some of the kids at school, and I can assure you that this was not a term of endearment. Nonetheless, this young man was not going to be influenced in any decision he made in life about what he does. He quite maturely told me “if I’m meant to be a priest, I’m sure God will help me figure it out”. He also acknowledged (in Grade 12 when we last spoke) that he didn’t think God would mind that he was too young to decide.
When I think of today’s Gospel, I think of this young man and people like him. I sadly ponder how many young men and women decide not to become priests or religious sisters because of this kind of “outcast” stigma associated with it. I would begin by saying that we’re in good company here, because Jesus felt it. And although He proclaimed it, surely being rejected by the people closest to Him hurt. Courage is the only remedy, and then we live in hope that people will accept it. I was blessed that when I began my vocational discernment, I was in my 30’s, and my friends were perplexed they didn’t discourage me. I’m sure they probably thought that I was doing this because I couldn’t meet the right girl or that I had given up on marriage or something like that; but things changed when they saw that my life was fulfilled. They were very supportive when they came to the beautiful ordination liturgy and I am blessed to have good friends who keep me grounded. My family too, but I have family who rejected what I was doing and were very negative and hurtful in their senitments. I think it’s important that we remember that this is a part of the mission and that we can never convince others that a radical way of Christian life is going to be grace-filled and joy-filled; they will have to come to see that for themselves