Thanks to God's abundant mercy, we are able to live out our calling to ministry. And by doing so we are called to be ministers of mercy
So often the young men I talk with about becoming a Glenmary priest or brother tell me that they are not good enough to be a religious or that they have sinned and therefore couldn't possibly be a priest or brother. When I hear this I encourage them to go to confession where they can experience God's mercy in the sacrament of reconciliation and remind them of the need to forgive them-self if they have already been to confession.
Pope Francis wrote a powerful prayer for this Jubilee Year of Mercy which we have been praying regularly in Glenmary's Our Lady of the Fields Chapel. There is line in this prayer that I think can truly assist young men in their discernment. "You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God." None of us who enter into religious life are perfect and we all bring stories from our past. But because we were able to recognize God's mercy and forgiveness we can share that mercy with those to whom we minister.
I think that the reading from St. Paul's first letter Timothy at Mass today, the twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time is an excellent example of how Paul demonstrates that even though we recognize the sins in our past we can still be ministers. The following is from 1 Tim. 12-16:
“I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry. I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief... Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost… I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.”