The Auxiliary Vicar: On the Feast of St. Josemaría, In the Parish of St. Josemaría, Rome (June 26, 2016)

It fills me with joy to celebrate Holy Mass on the feast of St. Josemaría, in this parish dedicated to him. First of all I want to transmit to you an affectionate greeting from Bishop Javier Echevarría, the Prelate of Opus Dei, who likes so much to celebrate the Eucharist in this church, although today he was not able to do so. You can be assured of his prayers for your parish community, for each one of you and your families.

Twenty years have gone by since St. John Paul II dedicated this church. I recall that day very well, when I had the good fortune to take part in the Eucharistic celebration. The Pope addressed the faithful with words that called for commitment to their Christian mission: “This church,” he said, “is built not only with bricks, but with living stones that are the people, all the baptized. You have been baptized, and therefore you too are living stones, and with these living stones a living Church is built.” Two decades later, what vitality we see in the parish of St. Josemaría! Priests and laity have worked a lot, and have begun a wide variety of initiatives: catechism classes for children and adolescents, charitable works, preparation courses for marriage, etc. How much the pastor and the other priests love you!

We are all immersed in a great apostolic adventure. In the Gospel passage that we have just read, Jesus involves many people in his mission of teaching the path to attain true happiness. So many people gather around him that Jesus asks Simon to let him get into his boat. At the end of his preaching, our Lord addresses this challenge to the fisherman: “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” (Lk 5:4). Put out into the deep! Duc in altum, as the Latin text says. These words were a strong call to St. Josemaría’s heart, where they echoed throughout his whole life. Duc in altum! St. Josemaría, in turn, addressed that call of our Lord to so many Christians, so that they wouldn’t be satisfied with a superficial relationship with God, so that they wouldn’t fall into the temptation of shutting themselves up in themselves. “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch,” St. Josemaría exhorts us. “The apostolic zeal Christ has put in our hearts must not be diminished or extinguished by a false humility... He tells us to fight, to acknowledge our weaknesses, not to be afraid, but to repent and foster a desire to improve.”[1]

God and others: these are the great goals of our life. We are asked to go out to meet God, who is our Father, and our fellow men and women, who are our brothers and sisters. Today, like Peter and his fishermen companions, we hear the Master’s words: Duc in altum, put out into the deep! It is God who is calling us to put out into the sea of infinite love that He himself is, to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says, in order to converse as children with their Father. Let us immerse ourselves in the ocean of peace and love that is God: in our daily prayer, in those times of silence and intimate prayer that we can find, with a bit of effort, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of each day. We will discover that our Lord is always with us, even when it seems that our days end with our nets empty, as happened to Simon Peter on the day he met the Master beside the Lake of Genesareth.

Duc in altum, put out into the deep. This is also a call to go out to those other seas that are the men and women of our time, in order to transmit to them the joy of being God’s children. We cannot remain on the shore of out comfort, content perhaps with a relationship of mere courtesy with others. We Christians are called, like Peter, to leave behind the shore of our selfishness in order to become fishers of men, people with the courage to communicate the closeness of God with their words and deeds. We are called to do so even with simple gestures, such as an amusing joke that causes someone who is tired to smile, words of advice that hearten a discouraged friend, or a small detail that makes a family gathering more pleasant.

Those of us who have had the great gift from God of being close to St. Josemaría, can assure you that he was always in God’s presence, while at the same time also being truly concerned about the life of each person, with very specific deeds. He had the heart of a father who loved intensely, even when he had to correct someone who had made a mistake. For as Pope Francis said, “a good father knows how to wait and how to forgive from the bottom of his heart... The father who knows how to correct without humiliating is also the one who knows how to protect without taking anything for himself.”[2]

Let us put out into the deep in our relationship with God and with those round us. And let us ask our Lady to accompany and sustain us in this decision, for as St. Josemaría so often said, Mary is Spes Nostra, our Hope.

[1] See St. Josemaría, Christ Is Passing By, no. 159.

[2] Pope Francis, Catechesis in a General Audience, February 4, 2015.

Romana, n. 62, January-June 2016, p. 99-101.

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