When I was younger I remember going to Dreamworld with my family. I'd never been to Dreamworld before, so I was a little bit apprehensive. By the time we got there fear had well and truly set in. I was so afraid of the rides that I made up a thousand excuses as to why I couldn't go on them: "I'm too short", "I feel sick" even: "I have a bad back!" Eventually I was forced to go on the rides, but I'd kept my eyes shut the whole time, too afraid to even look.
Looking back now, I don't even know why I was so afraid. I'd never been so scared of anything up until that point. What I do remember was feeling like I was stuck: looming before me were obstacles and challenges that scared the junk out of me, and I knew that I would eventually have to confront that fear but I became so afraid that I was willing to stay in that one spot to never have to confront it.
I'm sure you can see where this is going. That feeling of being stuck, of being paralysed is something that I have felt in my life and as I've discerned God's call. Before I applied for the seminary I was so afraid that God wasn't calling me to priesthood that it took me years before I had the courage begin the application process. Even more recently in my life as I discerned God wasn't calling me to priesthood, I was so afraid of what God might actually call me to that it took me months to make a move.
A big part of my job is to ask guys if they've ever seriously thought about priesthood. Often the response is "No, but God's not calling me to be a priest" or "Not really, but I don't want to be a priest". But if you've never thought about it, how do you know that you're not called?????????? It's not just priesthood, so often I talk to young people and they've never thought about what they could do with their life. I want to shake them and yell "WHAT ARE YOU SO AFRAID OF???!!!???!!!"
"Go, do not be afraid, serve!"
These are the words of Pope Francis, spoken at World Youth Day in Rio. I wasn't there, but someone told me the Pope had said it. And if he said it, than it must be right. We don't need to be afraid. We just need to go and serve. The fear of failure or embarrassment or whatever - if you're honest to yourself and before God then there's nothing to fear.
See, here's the thing: the situation has become critical. Look around, not just at the Church, but at your world. There's way too much crap going on for us to be afraid. So, let's take up the words of our Papa:
Go, do not be afraid, serve!