(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday called the vocation to ordained ministry a “treasure hidden in a field.” Recalling this passage in the Gospel of Matthew, Pope Francis told participants of the plenary meeting of the Congregation of the Clergy that the ordained need to “discover” and “bring to light” this treasure which “is not meant to enrich just anyone.”
Listen to Tracey McClure's report:
Pope Francis said those called to ministry are not “masters” of their vocation but “administrators” of a gift God has entrusted to them “for the good of all the people” – “even those who have moved away from religious practice or do not profess faith in Christ.”
The entire Christian community too is called to care for this treasury of vocations and to promote and accompany them with affection.
Vocations are a “diamond in the rough,” the Pope said, which need to be polished with patience and care, so they come to shine among the faithful. Even today in its formation of priests, the Church, the Pope said, wants to adopt Christ’s method of teaching through inviting others to “come and follow me," and "do as I do." Formation is not a one-way street down which someone transmits theological or spiritual ideas.
Formation accompanies the entire life of ordained ministry, said the Pope, remarking that priests never cease to be disciples of Jesus although they may falter or fall as they follow Him. Thus, training must integrally address the intellectual, human and spiritual dimensions of each person.
Similarly, every vocation comes with the mission to evangelize. Evangelization begins, the Pope said, through fraternity and communion with other ordained ministers and with their Bishop. Such communion can lead to a powerful missionary zeal, which frees them from the temptation to seek their own well-being and the approval of others, the Pope added. Thus freed, they can be motivated by pastoral charity and by the desire to take the Gospel message out to the most remote suburbs.
Ordained ministers then, need to be aware of “being” priests in the midst of their flocks - “free from all spiritual worldliness,” conscious that it is their lifestyle which spreads the Gospel message even moreso than their deeds. Joyfulness and serenity in priestly vocation sustains one in moments of fatigue and pain and comes through prayer, the Pope reflected.
Departing from his prepared remarks, Pope Francis said “We need priests; vocations are missing. The Lord is calling but it’s not enough. And the bishops, we have the temptation to take without discernment, the young men who present themselves. This is bad for the Church. Please, study well the path of a vocation; examine well if that (man) belongs to the Lord: if that man is healthy, if that man is balanced; if that man is capable of giving life, of evangelizing. If that man is capable of forming a family, and of renouncing this to follow Jesus. We have many problems today and in many dioceses because of this chicanery (it: inganno) of some bishops to take those who come - sometimes expelled from seminaries or from religious houses - because ‘I need priests.’ Please, think of the good of God’s people.”
In concluding, the Pope offered his prayers for the plenary as it examines issues of “great importance.”
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