“The Mercy of God Gives Value to Human Freedom,” on the Occasion of the Feast of St. Josemaría, in Acistampa, Italy (June 26, 2016)

The mercy of God gives value to human freedom. God lets us act, and counts on our own contribution. He relies on each person’s professional skill: fishermen, professors, masons, craftsmen, government workers….

This is something that lies at the heart of St. Josemaría’s teaching. Commenting on our Lord’s invitation to Peter to put out into the deep, he said: “reject the pessimism that makes you a coward.” It is in giving our own life to make Jesus known (which is what being a fisher of men means) that we find our true dignity. As the Second Vatican Council teaches in Gaudium et Spes, no. 24, man “cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.”

Our Lord led Peter to a higher truth: from material success to a fruitful apostolate.

“Depart from me,” exclaimed Peter while still in the boat, “for I am a sinful man.” Like Peter, we too recognize that we are sinners. Moreover, like Jesus, we too find ourselves living alongside people who, inexplicably, are estranged, marginalized, rejected, or people who in their suffering enclose themselves in their own misery and loneliness.

St. Josemaría understood this reality right from his youth, and his pastoral heart spurred him to visit the sick and abandoned in hospitals or in their own homes, often in the poorest peripheries of Madrid.

In a letter written for the beatification of my predecessor, Pope Francis recalled that Blessed Alvaro had the same deep concern: “He went out into the poor districts to assist in the human and Christian formation of so many needy people.”

We, as Christ did with Peter, can awaken people’s amazement, by letting them experience our understanding and encouragement, or our spiritual and material help.

And just as Peter did, we can make use of our own work to show others God’s mercy: one who is a teacher, instructing the ignorant; a doctor, curing patients with human refinement; a judge, working with true professional dedication; a cook, preparing meals for the hungry….

And even in that very great “job” of being parents, you fathers and mothers are witnesses of mercy in every moment of the day, from morning till night, without rest, serving one another and raising your children in the joy of love. As Pope Francis says, “The works of mercy are infinite, each with its own seal, with the story of each face.”

Finally, we can say with St. Josemaría that the life of a Christian should develop in “the atmosphere of God’s mercy... That is where you strive to behave as a son or daughter of the Father.”

Romana, n. 62, January-June 2016, p. 102-103.

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