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For the love of God impels us Print
Guest column
Thursday, Feb. 08, 2018 -- 12:00 AM
Fr. Gregory Ihm

"For the love of Christ impels us, . . . He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised . . . (entrusting to us the message of reconciliation) . . . So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us" (2Cor. 5:14-20).

The word "impel" denotes a freedom, not being forced to do something but rather there is motivation: a drive toward something. The experience of being reconciled to God and thus humbly living in relationship with God, to be able to be so familiar with Him, so as to call Him, "Abba, Father".

This deep union and intimacy with the Lord is the reason He sent His only begotten Son into the world. The whole Church has been invited into this living relationship with Jesus Christ and entrusted with the mission to make it known to the world.

When I say known, not in the sense of outside one's self, but I mean to make known interiorly the intimate knowledge of God's goodness. This knowledge requires the old self to die so that the new man conformed to Christ may live.

Who is going to go? Who is being impelled to make this message known, because the goodness of this knowledge is welling up within and requires mission.

If there are few people responding to this invitation from the Lord -- which there are too few -- why are they not being impelled by the goodness of Christ's message? How can we as a Church help people better encounter the goodness of God, so that we may long for this goodness for ourselves and the whole world?

We know that responding to the Lord's invitation: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt. 28:19) is difficult.

After all that the apostles saw Jesus say and do, they were still afraid to leave Jerusalem and proclaim Jesus Christ risen from the dead, until they were impelled by the fire/strength of the Holy Spirit to go on mission.

For vocations to priesthood and Religious life to flourish, people need to encounter Jesus Christ as Lord being converted from a former way of life, follow him for a little while as a disciple (learning from Him), and then being impelled by the Holy Spirit to leave behind the things of this world and investing one's whole life in the world to come.

Please check out the new vocational videos on the Diocese of Madison Vocations' website:

If you have further questions about priesthood or Religious life, please contact the Vocations Office: 608-821-3095 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Fr. Gregory Ihm is the director of vocations for the Diocese of Madison.