Open to God and Men | A Homily by St. Josemaria Escriva

We are here, consummati in unum! united in prayer and intention, and ready to begin this period of conversation with Our Lord, having renewed our desires to be effective instruments in his hands. Before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament — how I love to make an act of explicit faith in the real presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist! — use your prayer to stir up in your hearts the eagerness to spread the fervour of their resolute beating to every part of the earth, to the utmost corner of the planet where even one man may be found generously spending his life in the service of God and souls. Thanks to the ineffable reality of the Communion of Saints, we are indeed all joined together — ‘fellow workers’, St John says — in the task of spreading the truth and the peace of the Lord.

It is right that we should think about how we are imitating the Master. We should pause and reflect so that we can learn directly from Our Lord’s life some of the virtues which ought to shine out in our lives, if we are really anxious to spread the Kingdom of Christ.

Prudence, a necessary virtue

In the passage from St Matthew’s Gospel which we read in today’s Mass, it says: tunc abeuntes pharisaei, consilium inierunt ut caperent eum in sermone; the Pharisees went and took council that they might trap him in his talk. Don’t forget that this hypocritical approach is a common tactic even in our own times. I suspect that the tares of the Pharisees will never be wiped out in this world; they have always managed to grow at such an amazing rate. Perhaps Our Lord tolerates this growth to make us, his sons, more prudent, for the virtue of prudence is essential for anyone whose job it is to judge, to strengthen, to correct, to fire with enthusiasm, or to encourage. And that is exactly what a Christian has to do, by taking advantage, as an apostle, of the situations of his ordinary work to help the people around him.

At this point, I raise my heart to God, and I ask him through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin — who is in the Church and yet above the Church, who is between Christ and the Church, protecting us and reigning over us, the Mother of all mankind, as she is of Our Lord — through her, I beg that he may grant the gift of prudence to everyone of us, and especially to those who, immersed in the bloodstream of society, wish to work for God; because it will stand us in very good stead to learn to be prudent.

The scene from the Gospel continues to unfold: the Pharisees ‘sent their disciples with some of those who were of Herod’s party, and said: Master…’ Note how craftily they call him ‘Master’. They pretend to be his admirers and friends, treating him as they would a person from whom they expect to receive instruction. Magister, scimus quia verax es, we know that you are truthful… What infamous guile! Have you ever come across such double-dealing! Take care then how you pass through this world. Don’t be over-cautious or distrustful. But you should feel on your shoulders — remembering the image of the Good Shepherd depicted in the catacombs — the weight of the lost sheep, which represents not just a single soul, but the entire Church, the whole of humanity.

If you accept this responsibility with good grace and zest, you will become both daring and prudent in defending and proclaiming God’s rights. And then, because of the integrity of your life style, many people will come to regard you as teachers and call you so, even though you have no such ambition, for we have no interest in earthly glory. But, at the same time, don’t be surprised if, among the many who approach you, there are some who sidle up to you with no other purposes than to flatter you. I would like you to register deep in your souls those words that you have so often heard from me: we must never let anything, neither slander, nor backbiting, neither human respect, nor the fear of what others may say, and much less the praise of the hypocrites, stand in the way of the fulfilment of our duty.

You remember the parable of the Good Samaritan? A poor man lies by the roadside, covered with the injuries he has received from thieves who have robbed him of his last penny. A priest of the Old Law passes by, and a little later a Levite. They both continue on their way without bothering to help. ‘But a certain Samaritan as he journeyed came upon him, and seeing him, was moved with compassion. And he went up to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. And setting him on his own beast, he brought him to an inn and took care of him.’ Note that this is not an example provided by Our Lord for the benefit of just a few select people, since he immediately adds in answer to his questioner, that is to each one of us: ‘Go and do the same yourself.’

Therefore, when in our own life or in that of others we notice something that isn’t going well, something that requires the spiritual and human help which, as children of God, we can and ought to provide, then a clear sign of prudence is to apply the appropriate remedy by going to the root of the trouble, resolutely, lovingly and sincerely. There is no room here for inhibitions, for it is a great mistake to think that problems can be solved by omissions or procrastination.

Prudence demands that the right medicine be used whenever the situation calls for it. Once the wound has been laid bare, the cure should be applied in full and without palliatives. When you see the slightest symptom that something is wrong, be straightforward and truthful about it, irrespective of whether it involves helping someone else or whether it is your own problem. When such help is needed, we must allow the person who, in the name of God, has the qualifications to carry out the cure, to press in on the infected wound, first from a distance, and then closer and closer until all the pus is squeezed out and the infection eradicated at its source. We must apply these procedures first to ourselves, and then to those whom, for reasons of justice or charity, we are obliged to help: I pray specially that parents, and everyone whose job it is to train and educate, may do this well.

CONTINUE READING…


“Open to God and Men” is an excerpt from the homily given by St. Josemaria Escriva on November 3rd, 1963.  The homily is published by Scepter Publishers in the book “Friends of God”.

Reproduced by the St. Josemaria Institute courtesy of the Studium Foundation.  The content is intended for the free use of readers, and may not be copied or reproduced without permission from ©The Studium Foundation (www.escrivaworks.org).

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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