At the Inauguration of the Academic Year and Blessing of the New Oratory, Campus Bio-Medico University, Rome (November 13, 2013)

My dear sisters and brothers at the Campus Bio-Medico University:

I accepted with great joy the invitation to celebrate Mass for the inauguration of your new academic year. Before continuing, I would like to recall that the foundation of this university and its hospital was already present in the heart of the founder of Opus Dei. From the beginning of his pastoral work, St. Josemaría was in contact both with the intellectual world and the world of the sick. It was from them (asking doctors and patients for prayers) that he obtained the strength needed to do Opus Dei, as God was asking of him.

He was always a sower of charity, of supernatural and human affection, which he drew from his Eucharistic life, from Jesus’ presence in the Blessed Sacrament, who is the Heart of your work here. I ask you to be closely united each day, to live very well a fraternal spirit, a spirit of service. Your work and your unity will be of great benefit for the students and the sick who come here, as well as for their families.

The votive Mass of the Holy Spirit, which presents to us the story of Pentecost, invites us to invoke together, as our Lady and the disciples united in the Cenacle did, the light and strength of the Spirit of God for each of us and for the whole Campus Bio-Medico.

In the first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we read how “suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting... And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:2-4). His presence gave each of them a strength more than human, the capacity to confront danger, the courage to no longer fear a death like that of the Lord Jesus, which they began to suspect they too would have to suffer. On the contrary, they understood the deep meaning of his death, its divine meaning, as a means for the redemption, and they went forth to proclaim this to all peoples, who understood them in their own language, because the language of a Christian filled with the Holy Spirit is a universal language.

Let us pause to meditate on the fact that Jesus, even after his resurrection, did not hide his wounds. He did not hide the existence of pain and suffering; he explained to the two disciples from Emmaus that his sufferings were the path we need to take in order to enter into glory (see Lk 24:26). The Gospel helps us to accept this mystery, always present in the life of each of us: the cross of every day that we are called to take upon ourselves in order to follow Christ. I now turn my thoughts to the present moment, which is not an easy one. I look at the crisis that various nations in the world are undergoing, which has also affected Italy, and naturally the Campus Bio-Medico as well. It is a crisis that involves many different sectors: the economy and finances, society, the family, and also education and moral behavior.

We can’t give in to resignation and pessimism! The Holy Father recently said: “Every crisis, even the present one, is a passage, the pangs of a birth that involves struggle, hardship and suffering, but which bears within itself the new horizon of life, of a renewal, that carries the power of hope.”[1] In every crisis, including the present one, the seeds of a new beginning are also found.

Let us do everything we can to ensure that this happens as soon as possible. It is Jesus himself who now tells us, as he did back then to his disciples, that we should not be afraid of the world’s opposition. Today the Spirit has just taught us that participation in Christ’s sufferings is a pledge of participation in his glory.

Along with you I look with admiration at how the altarpiece for this chapel has turned out. The scenes from the life of Jesus, who cures and consoles the sick, placed around the crucifix sculpted in stone, are a visible memorial to his ever-present sacrifice. This representation of Christ on the Cross presides over our Eucharist and all the Masses that will be celebrated on this altar, making present, here and now, the sacrifice of the Cross. I was told that when the crucifix had just been installed, when the workers and architects had left the sanctuary free, a woman came up and kiss it with devotion. For Christ crucified attracts us and attracts all things to himself. Our work, study, difficulties and joys, sufferings, we have to offer everything to Him at Mass, beseeching his grace for the new academic year.

Besides receiving the invitation to unite ourselves to the Cross of Jesus, we can ask ourselves: What does the Spirit want to teach us? What is the path that the Spirit is indicating to each of us to endure hardships patiently and conquer with Christ? Have no doubt: it is the path of charity. Our Lord gave to his followers the new commandment of love, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (Jn 13:34). And he added, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” ( Jn 14:15). It is as if Jesus were telling us: if you love me, you will love one another as I have loved you.

Love for God and love for neighbor are never separated in the Gospel. All of us have been called to go out of ourselves, to open ourselves to others, to the people around us, in our family, at work, and in any circumstance or place during the day.

The words spoken by the Pope in Cagliari can well be applied to the Campus Bio-Medico, as to any other university: “Isolation, no. Closeness, yes. Culture clash, no; culture of encounter, yes. The university is a privileged place where this culture of dialogue is promoted, taught and lived, this culture which does not indiscriminately level out differences and plurality—this is one of the risks of globalization—nor does it take them to the extreme, causing them to become causes of conflict. Rather, it opens to constructive dialogue. This means understanding and esteeming the other person’s gifts; it means not seeing the other with indifference or fear, but as an opportunity for growth.”[2]

We are called to value and foster the noble qualities of the others, of each colleague, of each co-worker, of all those around us each day. As St. Josemaría said: “Charity, which is like a generous overflowing of justice, demands first of all the fulfillment of one’s duty. The way to start is to be just; the next step is to do what is most equitable....”[3] Therefore in order to live charity, each of us is called, first, to carry out his or her obligations as well as possible.

Nevertheless, to love in a Christian way it is not enough to limit ourselves to doing what is our “duty,” trying, for example, not to treat others badly. “In order to love,” St. Josemaría continues, “great refinement is required, and much thoughtfulness, and respect, and kindliness in rich measure. In other words, it involves following the Apostle’s advice: ‘carry one another’s burdens, and thus you will fulfill the law of Christ’ (Gal 6:2). Then indeed we shall be living charity fully and carrying out the commandment of Jesus.”[4]

Then, if we each carry the burdens of the others, we will lay the groundwork for a new culture. In place of a culture of closed individualism, we will foster a culture of openness and solidarity. A culture of daily cooperation, found in those who know how to listen with interest to a colleague’s viewpoint, who point out in a friendly but clear way the things they don’t understand or disagree with, who loyally correct others instead of giving in to the temptation to criticize them behind their back. It isn’t easy, but that’s why we need to ask for the help of the Holy Spirit, who teaches us to live charity and justice. And never forgetting that charity is a supernatural virtue, which is infused in us by God and which grows above all through the reception of the Sacraments, and in particular through the Sacrament of Penance, which prepares us to receive the immense gift of the Eucharist.

This morning, when traveling along Alvaro del Portillo Street to reach the Campus, I thought of the example of this bishop, our brother and father, who was the one who first envisioned the Campus Bio-Medico project, and who decisively encouraged us to strive for such an ambitious goal. The Church will soon proclaim him blessed, presenting him as a model of the virtues. I like to go to his paternal intercession so that each of us will learn to foster, in his or her own heart and life, a spirit of service, joy and loyalty in work and in human relations. I hope that each of you, following in the footsteps of Don Alvaro, will open up a bright path and become a sower of peace and joy, in every place where life will lead you, but in a special way here in the Campus Bio-Medico.

Let us go to the intercession of Mary Most Holy, who always looks at each of us with motherly love. Let us entrust to her our intentions, our work, and also our worries and sufferings, with the certainty that the Mother of God will speak to her Son about all of this, as she did in Cana of Galilee. And Jesus once again will transform the water of our littleness into the wine of his greatness.

Praised be Jesus Christ!

[1] Pope Francis, Address at a meeting with the world of culture, Cagliari, Italy, September 22, 2013.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Friends of God, no. 173.

[4] Ibid.

Romana, n. 57, July-December 2013, p. 223-226.

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