That All May Be Saved | A Homily by St. Josemaria Escriva
Our Christian vocation, this calling which Our Lord makes to each of us personally, leads us to become identified with him. But we should not forget that he came on earth to redeem everyone, because ‘he wishes all men to be saved’. There is not a single soul in whom Christ is not interested. Each soul has cost him the price of his Blood.
As I think about these truths, there comes to mind a conversation which took place between the apostles and the Master shortly before the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. A great multitude had followed Jesus. Our Lord looked up and said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these to eat?’ Philip made a rapid calculation and answered: ‘Two hundred silver pieces would not buy enough bread for them, even to give each a little.’ They didn’t have that kind of money; what they could find was paltry in comparison. ‘One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him: There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fishes; but what is that among so many?’
Leavening the dough
We want to follow Our Lord. We are anxious to spread his Word. From a human point of view, it’s only natural that we should ask ourselves: who are we, for so many people? Compared with the total population of the world, even though there are millions of us, we are few in number. We must therefore see ourselves as a tiny measure of yeast, prepared and ready to do good to the whole of mankind, remembering the words of the Apostle: ‘a little leaven is enough to leaven all the dough’, transforming it completely. We have to learn to become that yeast, that leaven, and so modify and transform the multitude.
Is yeast, by its nature, better than dough? No. But it is what makes the dough rise and become good and nourishing food.
Reflect a moment, even if only in general terms, on the way yeast works in the making of bread — that simple, staple food which is available to everyone. In many places (you yourselves may have seen it done) the baking process is like a real ceremonial, ending up with a splendid product that you can almost taste with your eyes.
They start with good flour, of top quality if possible. Then the dough is worked in the kneading-trough and the yeast is mixed in. It is a long and patient job. The dough must now be left to rest; this is essential for the leaven to do its work and make the dough rise.
Meanwhile, the oven is made ready, its temperature rising as the logs of wood burn bright. The risen dough is placed in the glowing oven and turns into high quality bread, wonderfully light and fresh. This result would never have been possible had it not been for the small amount of leaven, which dissolved and disappeared among the other ingredients, working effectively and passing unnoticed.
If we pray and meditate on these words of St Paul, we will realise that we have no alternative but to work, in the service of all souls. Anything else would be selfishness. If we look at ourselves humbly, we will see clearly that, in addition to his gift of faith, Our Lord has also granted us a number of talents and qualities. None of us has been mass-produced. Our Father has created us one by one and shared out different goods among his children. It is up to us to use these talents, these qualities, in the service of all men. We are called to use the gifts God has given us as instruments to help others discover Christ.
Please don’t think that the desire to help others is in the nature of an extra, a lace trimming for our ordinary lives as Christians. If leaven is not used for fermenting, it rots. There are two ways leaven can disappear, either by giving life to dough, or by being wasted, a perfect tribute to selfishness and barrenness. We are not doing Jesus a favour when we make him known to others: ‘When I preach the gospel, I take no credit for that; I act under constraint,’ obliged by Jesus’ command; ‘it would go hard with me indeed if I did not preach the Gospel.’
St. Josemaria Escriva, priest and founder of Opus Dei, was canonized by Blessed 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. “That All May Be Saved” is an excerpt from the homily given by St. Josemaria Escriva on April 16th, 1954. 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).