"Discovering God in Work" Osservatore Romano (June 28, 2012)
On other anniversaries we have already made some remarks about the readings of the Mass of St Josemaría. Today I would like all of us to focus on the message passed on to us by the Founder of Opus Dei: the sanctification of ordinary life, just as Jesus Christ preached, and as it is presented in the passages from the Book of Genesis, St Paul’s Letter to the Romans, and the Gospel of today’s Mass.
Let’s look at the last part of the passage from Genesis that we have just heard. “The Lord God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). The invitation to work, to complement the work of creation, is the primordial vocation of every woman and every man. Rightly, then, did St Josemaría say that any honest work is “an indispensable means which God has entrusted to us here on this earth. It is meant to fill out our days and make us sharers in God’s creative power. It enables us to earn our living and, at the same time, to reap ‘the fruits of eternal life’” (St Josemaría, Friends of God, 57). In these words, he invites us to discover God anew, both in important jobs and in our everyday tasks, which can become a solid base for our personal holiness.
This primordial dimension of work is the deepest reason why everyone has a right to a job that will enable them to earn their living and provide for their families. Unfortunately, many countries at present are suffering under the scourge of unemployment, which is causing so much worry and difficulty to countless families. We should pray for the civil authorities and those who hold public office, at every level, that, enlightened by divine Wisdom, they may discover and apply appropriate measures to bring their respective countries out of the present crisis, while fully respecting the dignity of the individual and the common good. Let us entrust this intention to God through the intercession of St Josemaría, the apostle of the sanctification of work.
We are children of God!
The second reading reminds us, in the words of St Paul, that we Christians are children of God, guided by the Holy Spirit. From this fact St Paul draws an immediate conclusion: “The spirit you received is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into your lives again; it is the spirit of sons, and it makes us cry out: ‘Abba, Father!’” (Rom 8:15).
Paul is keenly aware of the fears and anguish of the society of his time, subject as it was to the many, mostly malignant, forces that characterized ancient paganism. As a result, explains Benedict XVI in one of his encyclicals, people lived in terror although they had many gods; “but their gods,” says the Pope, “had proved questionable, and no hope emerged from their contradictory myths. Notwithstanding their gods, they were ‘without God’ and consequently found themselves in a dark world, facing a dark future” (Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, no. 2). Christians, however, as children of God, know that their future is filled with light. “It is not that they know the details of what awaits them,” the Holy Father continues, “but they know in general terms that their life will not end in emptiness. Only when the future is certain as a positive reality does it become possible to live the present as well” (Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, no. 2).
We should often meditate on this fact: I am a son, a daughter, of God. In view of this gift we will naturally try to give a supernatural dimension to everything we do. St Josemaría often used to say that when what is supernatural refers to human beings, it becomes something fully human. If we correspond with grace, we are in a position to have an ongoing conversation with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit in every situation and all our activities.
This great marvel of our faith should give us the courage, my dearest sisters and brothers, to face up to life’s inevitable difficulties, including the current economic crisis and shortage of jobs, calmly, and trusting in God. Sustained by that conviction we can make our own the words of the responsorial psalm: “Praise the Lord, all you peoples!” in response to the promises God himself makes to us: “Ask, and I will bequeath you the nations, put the ends of the earth in your possession” (Ps 2:8). But we must pray with faith and perseverance that unemployment and the resulting sufferings may come to an end. In firm union with the Will of God, who guides all events for the good of those who believe in him, we can say: “Serve the Lord with awe and trembling; pay him your homage… Blessed are they who put their trust in God” (Ps 2:11-12).
In the Gospel we have once again contemplated the marvel of the miraculous catch of fish. From the human viewpoint the command given by Jesus – to cast the nets in broad daylight after a fruitless night’s work – seemed pointless and ridiculous. What was more, Peter and the others were fishermen by trade; they knew their job, and the darkest corners of Lake Tiberias held no secrets for them. Nevertheless, they obeyed: “If you say so, I will pay out the nets” (Lk 5:5). Don’t you marvel at Peter’s faith? We too need faith in order to face life’s ups and downs, especially the ones that ask us for a generous response to God’s plans.
The Year of Faith
In a few months’ time, in October, we will begin the Year of Faith announced by the Pope. How are we preparing for it? Do we make explicit acts of the virtue of faith before receiving the Sacraments of Confession or Holy Communion? Do we turn to God in prayer, with faith, when facing the manifold duties of our ordinary life of work? Are we trying to bring the people we love, our friends, fellow-students and coworkers, closer to God? Let’s not forget – because it’s true – that God wants to use every single one of us to bring others to know him, talk to him and love him.
Look and see how faith opens all doors wide and reveals new horizons where the sky had seemed dark. This is the lesson of this Gospel passage. Obeying our Lord’s command, Peter and his companions threw out their nets. Jesus Christ is inviting us too to sanctify ourselves in all of life’s ordinary circumstances, and to throw out the nets of apostolate into the sea of the world.
Romana, No. 54, January-June 2012, p. 100-102.