Homily on the Feast Day of St Josemaría by
Monsignor Fernando Ocáriz, Prelate of Opus Dei
Basilica of St Eugene, Rome, 26 June 2017
As we recall today the message of the universal call to holiness and apostolate, of which St Josemaría was spokesman during his earthly life, our heart is filled with joy and gratitude to Our Lord.
The Collect prayer proposed by the liturgy highlights this truth proclaimed by the Second Vatican Council and, referring to St. Josemaría, adds: "Grant that by his intercession and example we may, through our daily work, be formed in the likeness of Jesus your Son". This petition sums up, in a certain sense, our path on earth: to grow daily in the likeness of Jesus, through an activity that is as familiar to us as work is.
The light of the faith widens the horizons of our work: it makes us see that man was created by God and placed "in the garden of Eden cultivate and take care of it" (Gen 2:15). The earth is entrusted to men as a garden to be cultivated and nurtured every day, an environment full of potentiality, which we must discover and develop for the glory of God and the service of our brethren.
The Holy Spirit is, in fact, the great protagonist of this path of holiness in daily life. As St. Paul says to the Romans: “You received a Spirit of adoption, enabling us to cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’.” It is a cry, a prayer, that the Holy Spirit places on our lips, and that we can repeat throughout the day, for example when we feel tiredness in our professional activity and, at the same time, we have to continue working. Knowing ourselves to be children of God encourages us to pray and to serve all, and not to remain indifferent to those who suffer from various situations such as unemployment or a having an insecure job.
The light of the Holy Spirit leads us to encounter Jesus, who comes out to meet us, as he went out to seek the first disciples by the lake of Gennesaret. He enters our lives in the same way that he got into the boat of Peter and his companions. And the same boat, which had witnessed a professional failure –a trawl for fish in which nothing had been caught– becomes the Master’s teaching seat, the place from which he reveals the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. Moreover, in that same boat there begins a supernatural adventure, prefigured by the miraculous catch of fish. The presence of Christ transforms our work, our old boat, into the place where God acts. And this can be done with simple gestures but full of charity: helping a colleague whom we dislike, but who needs practical advice to finish well what he is doing; or perhaps dedicating a few minutes to someone, if we know that person needs to talk because his face reflects some worry.
The Lord asks us to be instruments in his hands, to bring joy and happiness to this world that so needs it. He addresses to us the same invitation he made to Peter: “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” (Lk 5: 4). The nets, this time, are thrown into that work imbued with divine grace, so that it becomes a place of Christian witness, of sincere help to our colleagues and to all the people we deal with. In this sense, we can recall the invitation of Pope Francis: “When your efforts to reawaken faith in your friends seem to be in vain, like the nocturnal efforts of the fishermen, remember that with Jesus everything changes. The Word of the Lord has filled the nets and the Word of the Lord makes the missionary work of his disciples effective” (Address, 22 September 2013).
The Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, will induce us, if we allow it, to put out into the deep, that is, to enter those apostolic horizons that are discovered every day: in the family, in one’s professional environment, in our relationships with friends and acquaintances. The miracles will be repeated, as Saint Josemaría says: “When Jesus went out to sea with his disciples he was not thinking only about the catch of fishes. And so when Peter falls down at his feet and humbly confesses: ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man’, Our Lord replies: ‘Do not be afraid; henceforth you shall be a fisher of men’ (Lk 5:10). In this new task of fishing, all the power and effectiveness of God will also be at hand: the apostles are instruments for the working of great wonders, in spite of their personal shortcomings” (Friends of God, No. 261). For we too must be apostles, apostles in the midst of work and all the human realities that we try to bring to God.
Our Lady is the Queen of Apostles; so we invoke her in the litanies of the Rosary. Let us ask her to teach us to collaborate actively in the Church’s mission for the salvation of the world. This was the longing that St. Josemaría treasured in his heart: to place Christ at the centre and root of every human activity, in union with the whole Church: “omnes cum Petro ad Iesum per Mariam!”.