When I was the Jesuit vocation director for Kenya, I would sometimes have occasion to say to a candidate, “If you say the only reason you want to be a Jesuit is for the love of God, I don’t believe you and you’re surely deceiving yourself.” Maybe Peter wanted to get away from his mother-in-law or James and John were tired of working for their father. Maybe each thought following Jesus would be exactly the great adventure he was looking for.
All of our choices, most especially the big ones, are made for a variety of reasons, both loving and selfish, conscious and unconscious. And God uses all these motives to move us forward for good. How many priests can say that an early motivation for priesthood was foreseeing getting to dress in attractive vestments and saying Mass! One of the works of the lifetime for each of us is to become aware of all our motives, and to become more focused on and committed to the loving ones. In that way we will become freer to “do” the Reign of God.
—Fr. Terry Charlton, SJ, joined the Chicago province and now serves as assistant provincial in Eastern Africa. He is the co-founder and chaplain of St. Aloysius Gonzaga High School for AIDS orphans from the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya.