Working for God | A Homily by St. Josemaria Escriva
Many people begin, but few finish. And we, who are trying to behave as God’s children, have to be among those few. Remember that only work that is well done and lovingly completed deserves the praise of the Lord which is to be found in Holy Scripture: ‘better is the end of a task than its beginning’.
You may already have heard me tell this story on other occasions; but even so, I would like to bring it up again because it contains a very striking lesson. I was once looking through the Roman Ritual in search of the prayers for blessing the last stone of a building, obviously the most important stone, since it symbolically represents the hard and enterprising work of many people, who have persevered in the task throughout the long years of construction. To my surprise, I found that no such prayers existed, and I had to be satisfied with a benedictio ad omnia, that is, an all-purpose blessing. I must say that at first I just couldn’t believe that there was such an omission in the Ritual, and I spent quite a while going over the index without finding what I wanted.
Many Christians are no longer convinced that the fullness of Life that God rightly expects from his children means that they have to have a careful concern for the quality of their everyday work, because it is this work, even in its most minor aspects, which they have to sanctify.
It is no good offering to God something that is less perfect than our poor human limitations permit. The work that we offer must be without blemish and it must be done as carefully as possible, even in its smallest details, for God will not accept shoddy workmanship. ‘Thou shalt not offer anything that is faulty,’ Holy Scripture warns us, ‘because it would not be worthy of him.’ For that reason, the work of each one of us, the activities that take up our time and energy, must be an offering worthy of our Creator. It must be operatio Dei, a work of God that is done for God: in short, a task that is complete and faultless.
If you consider the many compliments paid to Jesus by those who witnessed his life, you will find one which in a way embraces all of them. I am thinking of the spontaneous exclamation of wonder and enthusiasm which arose from the crowd at the astonishing sight of his miracles: bene omnia fecit, he has done everything exceedingly well: not only the great miracles, but also the little everyday things that didn’t dazzle anyone, but which Christ performed with the accomplishment of one who is perfectus Deus, perfectus homo, perfect God and perfect man.
Our Lord’s whole life fills me with love for him, but I have a special weakness for his thirty hidden years spent in Bethlehem, Egypt and Nazareth. That period, so long in comparison with his public life and which the Gospels hardly mention, might seem empty of any special meaning to a person who views it superficially. And yet, I have always maintained that this silence about Our Lord’s early life speaks eloquently for itself, and contains a wonderful lesson for us Christians. They were years of intense work and prayer, years during which Jesus led an ordinary life, a life like ours, we might say, which was both divine and human at the same time. In his simple workshop, unnoticed, he did everything to perfection, just as he was later to do before the multitudes.
“Work for God” is an excerpt from the homily given by St Josemaria Escriva on February 6th, 1960. The homily is published by Scepter Publishers in the book “Friends of God”.