Ordination of Two Deacons of the Prelature in the Church of St. Josemaría, Rome (March 1, 2014)
My dear Ignacio and Luis Ramón,
My dear brothers and sisters:
The four Gospels transmit to us a message of joyful hope because they repeat to us that Jesus Christ has come to save us and that, from among us, he has chosen his ministers so that they can remind us of this wonderful adventure which is the Gospel. Today we can also touch this happiness with the diaconal ordination of these two brothers of ours. Let us take advantage of the occasion to give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity, and also to receive with great frequency and intensity the sacraments, channels of grace, which bring us close to God; for ourselves, specifically, Confession and the Eucharist.
1. We have all been called by God to form part of the Church. To all of us he has entrusted the task of bringing souls to him. The prophet Jeremiah heard the voice of the Lord that was directed to him with these words; “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations (Jer 1:5).” He tried to avoid this mission, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth (Ibid., 6).”
The same thing could also happen to us. Our Lord calls us to personal holiness and to the apostolate, but our reaction is often similar to that of the prophet: we make excuses. Pope Francis recalled this at World Youth Day, in Rio de Janeiro, put people on guard against these pretexts. “Some people might think: “I have no particular preparation, how can I go and proclaim the Gospel?” Basically it is a matter of fear; fear of complicating our lives. Our reaction should be what the Pope pointed out: “When we go to proclaim Christ, it is he himself who goes before us and guides us. When he sent his disciples on mission, he promised: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20). And this is also true for us! Jesus never leaves anyone alone! He always accompanies us.”
This certainty moves us to ask ourselves: Am I really concerned about the people I have beside me? Do I try to help them to get closer to Jesus, with my example, with my prayer, with my word? Do I do whatever is possible to help them to understand how wonderful it is to frequent the sacraments? The beginning of Lent, now imminent, is an invitation to personally ask ourselves these questions.
The Gospel suggests another question to us. “This is my commandment,” says the Lord, “that you love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12). With the grace of God we are in condition to fulfill the command of our Lord; that is to say, we can really bring people to Christ and give fruit in service of the Church, of humanity, precisely because Jesus has invited us to be his friends: “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (Jn 15:15).
These words of Jesus fill us with confidence. In this regard there comes to memory a consideration of St. Josemaría; the Lord “calls us his friends; and he is the one who took the first step, because he loved us first. Still, he does not impose his love — he offers it. He shows it with the clearest possible sign: ‘Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends.’”
Not only has he called us friends, but he has made us, through his spirit, true sons of God: sons in the Son. It is a new motive for us to put real effort into living the life of Christ, which is now generously granted to us in the sacraments, above all—I repeat once more—in Confession and in Communion. This closeness of Jesus guarantees our apostolic efficacy, the fruitfulness of our service. “We know well what that means: to contemplate him, to worship him, to embrace him, in our daily encounter with him in the Eucharist, in our life of prayer, in our moments of adoration; it means to recognize him present and to embrace him in those most in need. ‘Being with’ Christ does not mean isolating ourselves from others. Rather, it is a ‘being with’ in order to go forth and encounter others.”
3. I want to stop now to consider some words of the first letter of St. Peter, which we heard in the second reading, that spoke to us of fraternal charity. The prince of the apostles recommends: “above all hold unfailing your love for one another, . . . ungrudgingly (1 Pet 4:8-9). This Christian virtue should be shown—as the Pope frequent reminds us—in words as well, avoiding defamation, gossip, backbiting, for with words one can kill the reputation and the honor of one’s neighbor or, at least, reduce the warmth of family and social relationships, and can create barriers of misunderstanding or of enmity, etc. Fraternal charity has many fields of application. St. Josemaría emphasized one especially: more than in “giving,” charity consists in “understanding.”
Within a few days is the centennial of the birth of the venerable Alvaro del Portillo, my beloved predecessor at the head of Opus Dei. Many of us knew and worked with this exemplary father and pastor, and there are numerous testimonies of others who, after a conversation with him, perhaps quite brief, were filled with joy and with peace. This serenity that he managed to infuse in souls, was a fruit of his ardent love of God, who had learned it in the school of St. Josemaría, the founder of Opus Dei.
We can ask him to intercede for us, so that, in our daily conduct, charity, made up of many small details in ordinary life, might shine forth, which can help a great deal to get closer to people and to bring them to Jesus.
I would like to congratulate the relatives of the new deacons: you, with your lives, have helped these men to follow our Lord in the priesthood. Let us take advantage of this feast to pray even more for the Holy Father, for the bishops, and for the priests and seminarians of the world. We ask this especially of our Lady, on this day, Saturday, which traditionally is dedicated to her.
Praised be Jesus Christ!