In order for men to really convince me and then their formators in the seminary that they have an authentic and legitimate vocation to diocesan priesthood, they must demonstrate a desire to be holy, a desire to want to know Jesus on a deep and personal level, to see Jesus in all people, even those who might not agree with them and even those who are very wrong in their interpretation of the message of the Gospel. They must seek virtue, especially humility, goodness, an ever deepening faith, love, prudence and these are only a few of the many things we look for and (thanks be to God) find in many men who present themselves these days. I know from my counterparts, Vocation Directresses and Directors from Religious Communities; they too find many suitable disciples in the people who discern with them these days.
One of absolute graces of vocation ministry is you see the best, the brightest, the most joyous, the most discerning, the most open men and women coming forward and with intellect, reason and with every good gift presenting themselves with a sense of a vocation and a desire to make a life commitment that is radically different and which will include a lack of understanding on the part of many of the faithful as well as others, and in some circles – hostility.
Despite all of that there can be a temptation among us when discerning, and in living out a religious vocation (priesthood, religious or consecrated life) as I’m sure there is I every vocation to become expecting or entitled to things, to feel we deserve something for the gifts we bring to the table. Sts. James and John teach us that today. Their mother who is just a loving mother wants a place of honour for her sons. Jesus doesn’t deny her request, but asks instead if the boys are ready to receive what the place of Christian honour is really all about.
And this is something we all need to ponder. This is why we as Catholics venerate the saints and why we have great celebrations as we canonize one (like Mother Teresa soon). We’re not celebrating people here who have the best Curriculum Vitae or resume, who made the Fortune 500 or managed to make it onto the cover of Time Magazine (even if they did). We are celebrating women and men who followed Christ and who suffered or who were prepared to suffer for him. We celebrate what they gave in this life and we know that the Lord who came to bring us with them, see them as good and faithful servants. Their reward was heaven, their place there the same as ours we hope. To be with the Lord our God and others in Paradise.
We need to seek to live our faith deeply committed to Jesus; to serving Him and everyone else. Honour for the Christian is about doing that well. Honour for the Christian is about others to do that well too. It must be our deep desire not only to get ourselves to heaven, but to bring as many with us as we can. May God bless you.