News July 3, 2014
Homily of Bishop Farrell at Solemn Mass in honor of St. JosemarÃa EscrivÃ¡
From Bishop Farrell: St. JosemarÃa would tell us to pray, yes, but to do what we are supposed to do with the right intention each and every day.
Bishop Kevin J. Farrell celebrated a Solemn Mass in honor of St. Josemaría Escrivá on June 28th at Christ the King Parish. The liturgical feast of St. Josemaría, priest and Founder of Opus Dei, is celebrated on June 26th. The very Rev. Paul Kais, Vicar of the Prelature of Opus Dei in Texas, and the two priests of Opus Dei in Dallas (Rev. Jack Solarski and Rev. Joseph Thomas) concelebrated the Mass, with several hundred faithful of the Diocese in attendance.
Below is the homily given by Bishop Farrell at the Mass.
My dear brother priests and my dear friends in Jesus Christ:
The first thing I wish to say is a word of thanks to you for the invitation to celebrate for you this Mass of St. Josemaría Escrivá. He was a humble man, a humble priest, from a small town in the north of Spain, who had such a tremendous influence on the life of the world—and continues to have that influence in the lives of so many people across this world. It was his life and his teaching that helped the Church in many ways to understand the profundity of the consequences of the Sacrament of Baptism. And, it was also his life and his teaching that helped the Second Vatican Council understand—and all Christians and all Catholics understand—the universal call to holiness: That all of us have been created in the likeness and image of God and all of us have a role to play in the redemption of our world. It was he who helped the Church to understand its position in the modern world. And so it is with great joy that on this occasion we come before Our Lord Jesus Christ, and we come to celebrate and to honor and to ask his intercession through that great Saint who influenced our world more than anybody in the Twentieth Century.
In our readings at Mass today our first reading was taken from the Book of Genesis. There, as you will recall, God creates the world. God creates man and he sees and looks down over all his creation and he says, “This is good—everything I see is good,” and he places Man in that garden in that world and he tells him, “You are in charge; you have to cultivate this garden for me.” That is the mission that each one of us continues to have in the human race. God gives to us the world and we are the ones that have to take care of it. God so loved the world so much that he called us to take care of it. But we think or we ask ourselves, “Look at all the evil that exists in the world or the confusion.” It was not God that did that. It was us. It was we—each one of us—who brought evil into the world. The evil that exists in the world today was our cause, our creation. But our Heavenly Father looking down on the world sees this state of confusion and says, “Hey, I love that world so much that now I am going to send my only son, Jesus Christ, there to redeem man and therefore to redeem the world.” That is what God has done for each one of us.
And, then we listen to the reading of the Gospel and in the Gospel we have that story once again of Jesus standing at the lake. And he gets into the boat of Peter and tells him “Go into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Peter, being a seasoned fisherman, probably looked at Jesus (who was likely twenty years younger than him) and thought, “Oh yeah, we’ve been fishing all night and now you’re telling me to lower the nets again?” And Peter, you all know the story, lowers the nets and they catch the fish. But, the important point of that whole story is that Peter falls on his knees and he says, “I am a sinful man—what are you doing here in this boat with me?” And Jesus looks at him and says, “Hey, I know that, but yet from now on you will be a fisher of men.” I believe at some time in the life of St. Josemaría the grace of God inspired him with a great understanding of these passages of the Sacred Scripture. He understood that the world was good—that God said that everything he made was good. It may be a little off track, but we have been placed there to redeem it. And, God comes just as he came into the boat of that fisherman. He stepped into that boat and he said, “Hey, you are the ones I want to follow me—you are the ones I wish to change the world—and therefore I am asking you to do this.” For St. Josemaría Escrivá this was the “why” and the “how” of the Christian vocation. These two passages enable us to understand our mission as people today in the world.
So, I was thinking yesterday, what would St. Josemaría say to us if he were standing here in front of us this morning? Well, I guess the first thing he would tell us to do is to pray. Because that is what the Lord Jesus Christ told us to do. Pray always. Pray frequently. St. Josemaría’s writings—if you ever go and read them—every second line will have something about praying. That’s what it is all about: Prayer. The power of prayer in our world today. I cannot help but think about all the world leaders who for the last thirty years have been trying to get the President of Israel and the President of Palestine to sit down together and to talk—and yet a little humble priest from Argentina (who probably had never been in the Holy Land before) goes and convinces these two men in a matter of hours to go and fall on their knees and pray in their own way for peace in the middle east.
The example of prayer and the power of prayer in our world. We too need to learn this in our own personal lives: That prayer is an integral part of our life. It is not something we only do for fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes in the afternoon. It is something that we do continuously. We offer up our words and actions to God. I often think—usually, I have to confess, too late—how many things I say on the tollway each evening as I struggle to get home. (Usually when I am getting off the tollway I realize that I should have been praying or saying something nice.) How often it happens to each one of us. How little we really pray in our world and how important it is to reflect and to think about it. So, the first thing he would tell us is that we have to live a life of prayer and a life dedicated to holiness through the sacraments, and especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Sacrament of the Blessed Eucharist. Prayer—the power of prayer. Prayer can change the world. But, then probably the Saint would be standing here in front of the altar and we would probably say to him: “Yes, but you never had to live in the world that we have to live in.” The culture of our modern world is many times in conflict with the values of the Gospel. We live in a world which has no time for God—doesn’t care about God. We live in a world in which it is the individual, the individual’s desire, and the individual’s rights, which take the supreme position in everything with no reference whatsoever to any objective law, order, or morality. It becomes what we think is right and what we think is wrong. You, St. Josemaría, didn’t have to live in that world. But, I’m sure the good Saint would probably smile and think to himself: “You all are crazy, you have no idea what I went through.” (Although he probably wouldn’t say it, he would probably think it in his heart and in his mind.) Those times when he had a price on his head and when he went around trying to bring the sacraments to people knowing that this may be the last door he knocked on or that this may be the last Mass that he celebrates. But he would say none of that. He would remind us of the Gospel of today’s Mass. He would remind us of Jesus getting into the boat of the fisherman. And, he would say to us: “How about praying about that for a while? This is what I want you to do.” He would probably tell us that the greatest temptation that we have in our world today is to think that all is lost. We give up hope. We lose confidence. We lose hope in God and we lose confidence in the grace of God. That today is the greatest challenge to us—that we give up hope. He’s going to look down on each of us and say, “What are you talking about?” Think about the culture of today compared to the culture of when Jesus was walking around Palestine. What do you think of the decadence of the Roman Empire in which Peter, Paul, James, and John—and the whole of the Apostles—had to preach? Have you ever prayed and thought about Paul walking into the square in Athens to teach all the intellectuals? How they laughed at him and told him: “Yeah, we’ll hear you another day . . . you know, we’re busy today.” We talk about our culture and we are so concerned how difficult it is. I think the Saint would tell us: “Hey, get a life.” It’s not that difficult. It’s not any worse than any other time in the world and in the history of humanity. We may think it’s the worst of all times. But, probably in the eyes of God it’s not that bad.
Then what he would tell us is that God has chosen each one of us to do our little part in our little world and our profession. He did not call you to be a missionary in the Philippines or in Central Africa or in Asia or anywhere! He called you live the Christian vocation here on this street, on this road, in this particular profession doing what we do every day—whether it is going to the supermarket or fighting with the president of the United States about some intricate policy involving the economy or whatever. No matter what it is you do in life, that is what God has called us to do and that is where we have to add our grain of sand to building up the kingdom of God and to restoring order in our world today. We are called to transform the world, and that, my dear people, is the mission to which we have been called. It may be a formidable mission, it may be extremely difficult. The challenges are tremendous but yet we know that with prayer and the grace of God that we can do it. We have to change the minds and the hearts of each individual that we have contact with so that they too may know the greatness of the love of God in their lives and they too can lead productive lives in the order of God. That is what we are called to do. It’s our little mission. Let us stop thinking for one moment that we have been called to change the whole universe. No, we have been called to change one little part of the universe—and that is where we need to exercise our mission and our vocation.
I believe that St. Josemaría is listening to us today. I believe that he is encouraging us and telling us, “Yes, you do good work, but you need to make an extra little effort.” And that, my dear people, would be my message to you today: We need to continue to be witnesses to the power of God in the world in which you and I have to operate and live every day. That is the greatness of our mission; that is the greatness of the vocation that God has given to each one of us. We have to give witness to God in what we say and what we do. Whether we work in the field of law (which compels us to do everything possible so that the law of God is respected in the laws of our community and in the laws of our nation). We have to do everything possible (no matter what our profession is) to ensure that the dignity of the human person is respected in every moment and at every twist and turn. Whether it be a child in the womb or whether it be that twelve-year-old child who’s trying to struggle across the Arizona desert, or trying to struggle across the Rio Grande River—sick, with disease, with ragged clothes on his back. But, a child is created in the image and likeness of God. Our society, our world, needs to respect those two most fundamental principles: We were created in the likeness and image of God and our love for God is expressed (as Jesus said, there is no greater commandment) when we love one another.
So, my dear brothers, St. Josemaría would tell us to pray, yes, but to do what we are supposed to do with the right intention each and every day. We change the world one step at a time—one piece at a time—and we are all called to collaborate in this mission of returning the world to the greatness and order that it had in the Book of Genesis when God looked at it and saw that everything was good. And now he has put us in charge of ensuring that goodness—that that greatness continues.
Closing Remarks by Bishop Kevin Farrell:
Before the final blessing I just want to add my own words of thanks and appreciation to all for all that you do each and every day in being an example in our community—our society—of how we should live our Catholic Faith. What our world needs today are more and more witnesses to the Faith of Jesus Christ. It’s not a question of preaching more; it’s a question of living more according to the values and the principles that Jesus Christ taught us in the Gospel. So, I do thank all of you in a very special way. I thank the priests of the Prelature for all of the work that they do here in the Diocese. It is so important and deeply appreciated what they do each day to continue to establish the kingdom of God here in our community.