On the 75th Anniversary of the journey of St. Josemaría through Sant Julià de Lòria, Principality of Andorra (December 1, 2012)
Most excellent and dear Archbishop, illustrious authorities, master sculptor, my sisters and brothers:
I am moved by the affection you have shown for a saint who I assure you, when he passed through this land, gave thanks and wanted to learn from the people here. For wherever he went, he constantly tried to unite himself to the people there with his prayer, with his mortification, and also with his desire to accompany each person in every moment of their life. Don’t think that this is merely imaginary. I had the privilege, a gift from God, of being able to accompany him when he traveled. And I can tell you that he really did fill the highways, the cities, the villages, with prayer and joy, and also with songs, because that was another sign of his supernatural joy.
I am also moved that you have chosen for this ceremony a Gospel scene that St. Josemaría liked so much. Because, if we want, we can draw from every Gospel scene consequences and reasons to rectify and to strive in our daily life—this was St. Josemaría’s message—to sanctifying life’s ordinary circumstances. As he did to Peter and John, Jesus tells us directly: Let me have your boat. This is what St. Josemaría repeated over and over again. God is so merciful and so good, Christ has placed so directly within our reach the holiness of heaven, that he asks each of us to collaborate with the meager material of our poor boat.
It’s no excuse to say: I have nothing, I am worth nothing. Although what we have is apparently nothing, as soon as we let Christ enter the boat of our soul, it acquires great value, since our Redeemer has come to sanctify our life. Therefore, taking up words of Blessed John Paul II, who admired and loved St. Josemaría so much, I tell you (would that I could say it with the warmth and strength of his voice): “Have no fear, open the doors to Christ!” The doors, that is, of your life, of your soul, of your family. The more we let Jesus become a co-protagonist in our life, letting him guide us, the happier we will be.
And he will say to us those words that so moved St. Josemaría: Duc in altum! You and I can “put out into the deep” in this land of ours, in order to sanctify the places where we find ourselves. And as we can deduce from this scene, our Lord trusted in the rowing of those men. It was they who propelled the boat in which Christ was traveling. You and I too are instruments that God wants to use to bring Christ to everyone. It may be that some people do not understand the message that we’re bringing to them: we must love them just the same, because they still lack the divine savor, the knowledge that Christ is entirely interested in each one of them. Just as he is interested in all humanity, as the Archbishop has expressed so well in reminding us that God wants all souls to be saved.
Let us add our own effort. And if we do so, we will see repeated, as the Founder of Opus Dei so often said, the teachings that can be easily drawn from this Gospel scene. That catch of fish was not for Peter’s benefit alone, or for John’s. So great was the quantity of fish they took in, that the boat was sinking. We have to fulfill our Lord’s will with love, with joy, which should never be lacking in the life of Christians, since we are sons and daughters of God. Those two men, and especially Peter, invited the others with joy to come and help them bring in the load of fish. For as soon as one comes to know Christ, charity and fraternity arise.
I can assure you (and I could dwell here on many anecdotes) that St. Josemaría felt himself to be a brother of all mankind, also of those who secretly or openly said that they didn’t like him. “Well I love you very much,” he would say. Therefore I ask you that, by drawing close to Christ, you will open your soul to a fraternity that will unite you to all mankind. And do you know how we can obtain this charity? By receiving the sacraments, thanking our Lord for the sacraments. Specifically, by not neglecting the marvelous sacrament that St. Josemaría defined as the sacrament of joy: confession. How marvelous is our God who, as the parable of the prodigal son tells us, does not reject us when we go to him with repentance. He is not like we men, who so often can harbor resentments. He opens up his arms and, as St. Josemaría said (with a somewhat free translation of that scene of the prodigal son), when the father embraced his son, “he ate him up with kisses.”
My brothers and sisters, let us go to the sacraments, which are the font of our true happiness. The font as well, in our families, of peace and harmony, of knowing how to help one another. And I will tell you that it doesn’t matter if you see yourselves, as I see myself, as of little worth, as insignificant. It is beautiful to see how God counts on our insignificance, because he is concerned about each one of us. God loves us with all his infinite strength and wants to pour all of his love into the littleness of the vessel that each one of us is. Peter was astonished at the marvel of seeing how a miracle had been worked: he, who was an expert in fishing, who had spent the whole night fishing and had caught nothing, by obeying God’s command brought in that marvelous multitude of fish. Peter, who realized that it had all been done through the power of God, exclaimed: depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
And now I want to tell you one more thing and with this I will end. St. Josemaría used to say: “I understand that Peter would react in this way, but I, precisely because I see myself as of such little worth, tell him with all the strength of my soul: do not depart from me, O Lord.” I ask you my sisters and brothers, even though you find yourself apparently far from Christ, to echo this petition, even though you seem to be saying it only with your lips. Let us all do so, each in the name of the others: Lord don’t depart from us, don’t let us let you leave; may you want to be with us and we to be with you. To attain this, we have a marvelous path, our Mother the Blessed Virgin, who here in this parish you venerate with such great affection. Let us hold tightly to her hand, to her intercession, and let us say to her often: bring us to Jesus and, with Jesus, to the Father and the Holy Spirit.
How many things I would like to say to you! I would like to spend a long time with you, but it’s not possible. I can assure you that I would like to leave my whole life, my soul in this land, which received with such great affection the person who opened the path of holiness to thousands of people. For thanks be to God, many people all over the world, also in places far from this land of Andorra, follow Christ and want to love him ever more deeply.
Please pray for me. Please pray for your dear Archbishop, for all the authorities. Pray that all of us may be united as one in Christ, who never wants to leave us.
May God bless you.