On the Feast of St. Josemaría, St. Eugene’s Basilica, Rome (June 26, 2014)
Dear brothers and sisters:
This year the feast of St. Josemaría Escrivá takes place between two solemnities of the liturgical year: Corpus Christi, which we celebrated here in Italy last Sunday, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which we will commemorate tomorrow. This coincidence fills me with special joy. I still recall the piety with which the founder of Opus Dei prepared himself for both of these feasts. On these days, with filial gratitude, he tried to offer to the Blessed Trinity—with greater intensity than usual—acts of adoration, thanksgiving, and reparation for the offenses that we men and women commit, and so many petitions for the Church and for the world. Let us strive to spend these days in the same way. Let us try to enter more deeply into these great mysteries that God has revealed for our salvation.
The example of Bishop del Portillo, whom we remembered yesterday on the seventieth anniversary of his priestly ordination, will also help us. In preparation for his beatification, on the upcoming 27th of September, we can ask him to intercede for us before God, so that our minds and hearts may be filled with the same sentiments that he, as a good son of God, learned from St. Josemaría and that he fostered throughout his whole life.
In today’s Mass, the passage from Genesis reminds us that God, after creating man, put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it (Gen 2:15). In these words, St. Josemaría saw reflected the doctrine about the sanctification of professional work, seen as a “participation in the creative work of God . . . And, moreover, since Christ took it into his hands, work has become for us a redeemed and redemptive reality. Not only is it the background of man’s life, it is a means and path of holiness. It is something to be sanctified and something which sanctifies.”
A path in the Church has thus been opened up, above all since the Second Vatican Council. But we should try to spread this marvelous reality that introduces us into the life of God. Let us explicitly ask for the grace to put this teaching into practice with ever greater strength in the circumstances of our life, so that all our professional activities, as well our family responsibilities and our moments of relaxation, may help bring us closer to God, accompanied by many other people.
This aspiration is possible thanks to the Paraclete who, as the letter to the Romans teaches, lives within us through grace and guides us. For we did not receive the spirit of slavery, but rather the spirit of sonship [by which] we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ (Rom 8:15).
Among the practical results that being and knowing ourselves to be children of God should lead to, the Gospel stresses a very important one: the need to forgive offenses.
“What these passages make clear” says the Pope, “is the absolute priority of ‘going forth from ourselves towards our brothers and sisters’ as one of the two great commandments which ground every moral norm and as the clearest sign for discerning spiritual growth in response to God’s completely free gift.”
Therefore an essential characteristic of God’s children is to be always ready to forgive. The Master, from the Cross, implored forgiveness for all those who had handed him over. St. Josemaría and so many other faithful throughout the history of the Church, following in the footsteps of Jesus, have readily forgiven those who attacked them or caused them harm, doing so without any rancor. The founder of Opus Dei said, with great simplicity and gratitude to God “I did not need to learn to forgive, because God taught me how to love.”
My dear brothers and sisters, today in this liturgy we can make a personal examination, without scruples but with sincerity, striving to discover if any corner of our heart harbors a small resentment against anyone, if we treat some people less well than others. It could seem a small thing, but the resentments, the rancor that we may sometimes have inside us, can turn into worms that destroy and reduce to dust our most genuine affections, those that show most clearly our condition as children of God.
“Let us ask the Lord,” we can implore with words of Pope Francis, “to help us understand the law of love. How good it is to have this law! How much good it does us to love one another, in spite of everything. Yes, in spite of everything!”