On the Feast of St. Josemaría, Basilica of St. Eugene, Rome (June 26, 2018)
“All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God” (Rom 8:14). These words of St. Paul express the highest vocation to which we are called: to be God’s children. The book of Genesis narrates that, in the beginning, man received life by the breath of God (cf. Gen 2:4); and Christ sent us, from God the Father, the Holy Spirit, who leads us to a new life in which we can recognize the face of the Father and exclaim: “Abba, Father!” (Rom 8:15).
How often St. Josemaría meditated on these words from today’s Mass! One day in 1931, he felt the Holy Spirit acting in his heart and placing them on his lips while on a streetcar in Madrid. He himself remembers repeating for a long time “Abba, Father!” The Paraclete engraved on his soul a new and deeper certainty of being a child of God, and he understood that divine filiation was the foundation of the spiritual life. An exciting panorama opened before his eyes. We are children of God in Christ! We share in the eternal filiation of the Only Begotten Son of God the Father.
Today we can ask ourselves whether, as St. Paul advises, the awareness of being children of God imbues every dimension of our life. Frequently considering our divine filiation, with faith, will help us to advance each day with hope, despite our own weakness, along the path towards identification with Christ, towards holiness. Saint Josemaría tells us: “Jesus understands our weakness and draws us to himself on an inclined plane. He wants us to make an effort to climb a little each day” (Christ Is Passing By, no. 75).
Do we feel the freedom and trust offered us by being daughters and sons of God? For we have not received “a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear” (Rom 8:15): the fear of failure, which can dampen our efforts to undertake new initiatives of service to others; the fear of losing the false securities provided by comfort-seeking and selfishness. The fear, in short, to put out into this wonderful sea of a life of prayer that promises, along with many joys, a life of self-giving that will not lack “the sufferings of this present time,” which “are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18).
Our Lord tells us as he did Peter: “Put out into the deep” (Lk 5:4). He is telling us, as it were: trust the deepest truth about yourself, that of being a child of God, and don’t be afraid to walk through a world that sometimes seems to be a storm-tossed sea. Indeed, it may be that things don’t go as ideally as we had planned, that at work our efforts encounter setbacks, that a person we love turns their back on God, that unexpected or adverse events arise... And we may want to answer as Peter did: “We have toiled all night and caught nothing” (Lk 5:5); “depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk 5:8). In those moments, how much it helps when we pray with faith, and hear Jesus addressing us personally: “Do not be afraid” (Lk 5:10).
Pope Francis tells each one of us: “Holiness, deep down, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life (cf. Gal 5:22-23). When you feel tempted to become entangled in your weakness, raise your eyes to the Crucified One and say: Lord, I am a poor thing, but you can perform the miracle of making me a little better” (Apost Exhort. Gaudete et exsultate, no. 15).
The Holy Spirit teaches us to live as God’s children, and urges us to help the people we meet along the path of our life to discover this truth. We all hear, with the Apostles, the commanding and encouraging voice of Jesus: “Put out into the deep and lower your nets for a catch” (Lk 5:4). A fishing to which all of us Christians are called: to help many people to be docile to the Holy Spirit’s action that, in Christ, leads them to God the Father. And to do so in ordinary life: in the family, at work, with our friends and neighbors... For example, when fathers and mothers take in their arms a small child who has fallen and been hurt, and they pour out their affection, they are helping that child to know the love of God the Father, “from whom,” as St. Paul writes. “all paternity in heaven and earth is named” (Eph 3:15). At these and many other times, parents are instruments of the care of our Father God.
You can help your friends in the same wonderful way. For example, when you listen attentively, with real interest and affection, to someone with a problem, and provide the support of your prayer and, if needed, timely advice, you are helping that person realize that they are not alone, that they have a Father in Heaven and brothers and sisters on earth.
To conclude, we can make our own the prayer we will say after Communion: “May the mysteries we have received in this celebration of St. Josemaría, strengthen in us the spirit of adoption as your children, so that, in faithful adherence to your will, we may advance joyfully along the path of holiness.” And on this path we will always find our Mother Mary, who accompanies us closely.
Romana, n. 66, January-June 2018, p. 93-95.