Rite of Admission to Candidacy – William Asinari & Andrew McCarroll
Monday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time
June 20, 2022 – Quo Vadis Days 

Our scripture passage taken from Matthew’s Sermon of the Mount finds Jesus offering some rather pointed words to his disciples.  He charges them to stop judging.  And then he goes so far as to offer some incredible imagery to get his point across.  “Why are you so concerned with removing the splinter from your brother’s eye when you have a wooden beam hanging out of your own eye?”

In some respects, it’s probably fair to say that the gospel passage may seem a bit out of place for this Rite of Admission to Candidacy.  Given a moment as significant as the public declaration of a man’s intention to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders and the Church’s willingness to accept that intention, one would think that a gospel passage far more lofty and inspiring might be a bit more appropriate than the readings of the day, which these happen to be.

Yet, if you scratch the surface of the gospel, the message of Jesus is most fitting this moment in your lives, brothers.  In challenging his disciples to set aside their tendency – like our own – to judge and criticize the actions of others from the posture of self-righteousness, Jesus reminds his followers of the depth of God’s mercy that first touched their hearts and ultimately prompted them to discern his call to holiness and discipleship.

Essentially, Jesus accepted and called his disciples as they were!  He also accepts and calls us as we are!  …  None of the twelve whom Jesus called were scholars or men wise in the ways of the world.  In fact, as the gospels unfold, we discover that the disciples often misunderstood Jesus and the demands of discipleship.  Yet, Jesus was able to see beyond their brokenness to call them to faith and to entrust to them the proclamation of his gospel.

Jesus responds to you, Bill and Andrew, in the very same way as he responded to his first followers.  He calls you to be a messenger not of judgement upon the lives of others but of mercy.  Pope Francis put it best in a homily at a priestly ordination Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica a few years ago.  “Never grow tired of following Jesus’ example of mercy, who did not come to condemn, but to forgive.  …  And if you come to have concerns about being too much of a ‘forgiver,’ think of that saintly priest who went before the tabernacle and said, ‘Lord, forgive me if I have forgiven too much. But you have given me that example!’”

These are strange and difficult days for our Church and our world, aren’t they.  Too often, we hear of demands to limit the love and mercy of God, as if any of us are capable of attaining a degree of righteousness apart from being unworthy recipients of that same love and mercy.  It’s imperative that we remember that Jesus invited the wounded and broken to be his followers and his instruments of peace in our world.  And he calls us to embrace a humility that enables us to affirm our constant need for his sustaining presence in our lives.

This invitation to be ministers of mercy carries with it a sense of urgency.  Just as it did in the earliest days of the Church, the gospel message still has the power to change lives.  …  But it waits to be proclaimed.  Jesus depends upon all of us – and especially you, Bill and Andrew, to be his voice, his hands and his heart.

This rite of admission to Candidacy marks in a formal way the Church’s judgment that your vocation is authentic and that you possesses the qualities necessary for the ordained ministry.  Thus, Bill and Andrew, you are being asked to make a radical decision today, as you seek a share in the sacrament of Holy Orders.  You are being given the opportunity to deepen your resolve to follow the Lord Jesus and to serve the People of God.  …  Just as the first disciples, you have been chosen and called to this role – a divine vocation and grace to which one strives to be faithful.  Believe that with all of your heart.

With this formal recognition of your candidacy, you enter into a new and deeper phase of formation to prepare you for the singular seal of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  …  Your openness to the call to serve the Church demands that you come to know well that you cannot succeed in this way of life apart from the grace of God.  …  Your openness to the call to serve the Church also demands a continual letting go of your own needs in order to imitate Jesus – who washed the feet of his friends in humble service and then commands all who hear his words, “As I have done, so you must do.”

Bill and Andrew, we pray today that you open your hearts to the Lord’s call to service in the Church.  Pope Francis noted why this is so vital,   “The Church needs ministers capable of warming people’s hearts, of walking with them in the night, of dialoguing with their hopes and disappointments, of mending their brokenness.”

Therefore, when you are called by name, come forward and declare your intention before the Church.