The Richness of Ordinary Life | A Homily by St. Josemaria Escriva

I remember, many years ago now, I was going along a road in Castile with some friends, when we noticed something in a field far away which made a deep impression on me at the time and has since often helped me in my prayer. A group of men were hammering some wooden stakes into the ground, which they then used to support netting to form a sheep pen. Then shepherds came along with their sheep and their lambs. They called them by their names and one by one lambs and sheep went into the pen, where they would be all together, safe and sound.

Today, Lord, my thoughts go back specially to those shepherds and their sheepfold, because all of us who are gathered here to converse with you — and many others the world over — we all know that we have been brought into your sheepfold. You yourself have told us so: ‘I am the Good Shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me.’ You know us well. You know that we wish to hear, to listen ever attentively to your gentle whistling as our Good Shepherd, and to heed it, because ‘eternal life is knowing you, who are the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent’.

The image of Christ with his sheep at his right and left means so much to me that I had it depicted in the oratory where I normally celebrate Holy Mass. Elsewhere, as a reminder of God’s presence, I have had engraved Jesus’ words, cognosco oves meas et cognoscunt me meae, to help us consider constantly that he is at our side, reproaching us, instructing us and teaching us as does a shepherd with his flock. The Castilian scene I have recalled is very much to the point.

You and I belong to Christ’s family, for ‘he himself has chosen us before the foundation of the world, to be saints, to be blameless in his sight, for love of him, having predestined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his Will’. We have been chosen gratuitously by Our Lord. His choice of us sets us a clear goal. Our goal is personal sanctity, as St Paul insistently reminds us, haec est voluntas Dei: sanctificatio vestra, ‘this is the Will of God: your sanctification’. Let us not forget, then, that we are in our Master’s sheepfold in order to achieve that goal.

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“The Richness of Ordinary Life” is a homily given by St. Josemaria Escriva on March 11, 1960.  The homily is published by Scepter Publishers in the book “Friends of God”.

St. Josemaria Escriva St. Josemaria Escriva

St. Josemaria Escriva, priest and founder of Opus Dei, was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002 and declared the “saint of the ordinary” for his example and teachings on the value of work and daily life as the path to holiness in the middle of the world.

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