Contemplating Don Alvaro's holy life, we discover our Lord’s guiding hand
September 28, 2014
“This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you”: “ut diligátis ínvicem, sicut diléxi vos” (Jn 15:12).
Dear brothers and sisters, these words of the Gospel echo today in my heart with new joy at the thought that the mass of people gathered yesterday in this very place, in close communion with Pope Francis, and together with all who accompanied us from the four points of the compass, was not so much a crowd but rather a family gathering, united by love of God and love of one another. This same love is strengthened today in the Eucharist, in this Mass in thanksgiving for the beatification of our beloved Don Álvaro, Bishop, Prelate of Opus Dei.
1. Our Lord, by instituting the Eucharist, gave thanks to God the Father for his eternal goodness, for the creation that sprang from his hands, for his mysterious plan of salvation. We give thanks for that infinite love made manifest on the Cross and anticipated at the Last Supper. And we ask our Lord: how can we learn to love as you have loved us, to love as you loved Peter and John, each one of us, as well as Saint Josemaría and Blessed Álvaro?
Contemplating Don Álvaro's holy, we discover our Lord’s guiding hand, the grace of the Holy Spirit, the gift of love that transforms us. And we make our own the prayer of Saint Josemaría that the new Blessed repeated so often: “Give me, Lord, the Love with which you want me to love you,” and then I will be able to love others with your Love, and with my poor efforts. In my life, other people will discover God's goodness, as happened in the daily path walked by Don Álvaro. Here in this beloved Madrid, God's mercy could be seen in his solidarity with the poorest and most wretched. The second reading fills us with joy, by reminding us of Christ’s presence in us, which robes us “with compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience" (Col 3:12).
Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank God by asking him for more love. In the vigor of his youth, when he was 25, Don Álvaro was “saxum”, a rock, for Saint Josemaría. From the depths of his humility, he wrote to the Founder of Opus Dei one day: “In spite of everything, I hope that you can place your trust in one who, rather than rock, is clay without any solidity whatsoever. But our Lord is so good! ” Our whole lives need to be permeated with that trust in God's goodness. We prayed in the Responsorial Psalm, “I thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness and love” (Ps 138: 2). And our gratitude rises up to the Holy Trinity, because God continues to be with us, through his Word, Jesus Christ Himself (cf. Col 3:16), and through his Spirit, who fills us with joy (cf. Jn 15:11; Lk 11:13) and enables us to cry out to God, filled with confidence, “Abba, Pater: Father! Daddy!”
2. “The trinity on earth will take us to the Trinity in Heaven”, Don Álvaro, following the teaching and experience of the Founder of Opus Dei, would often repeat. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph bring us to the Father and the Holy Spirit. In the Sacred Humanity of Jesus we discover his divinity, inseparably united to it.
The Holy Family! In words from the first reading, we bless our Lord “who fosters men’s growth from their mother’s womb, and fashions them according to his will” (Sir 50:22). The sacred text tells us that God loved us even before we were born. This reminds me of a poem in which Virgil addresses a new-born child: “Incipe, parve puer, risu cognoscere matrem” (Virgil, Eclogue IV, 60): “Little child, learn to recognize your mother by her smile”. At birth, a child begins to discover the universe; in his mother’s face, full of love, in that smile of hers that receives him, the new child who has only just come into the world discovers a reflection of the goodness of God.
On this day, which our Holy Father Francis has dedicated to prayer for the family, we unite ourselves to the prayer of the whole Church for that “communio dilectionis”, that “communion of love”, that “school” of the Gospel that is the family, as Paul VI said once in Nazareth. The family, along with the “interior and profound dynamism of love”, has great “spiritual fecundity”, as taught by Saint John Paul II, with whom Blessed Álvaro was united by a filial friendship.
In giving thanks to Don Álvaro, we give thanks to his parents who received him into this world and educated him, who prepared in him a simple and generous heart to receive God’s love and respond to his calling. “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you”. Don Álvaro did just that: he was a man whose smile gave glory to God who “has done wondrous things” (Sir 50:22), and who chose him to serve the Church by spreading Opus Dei, as a faithful son and successor of Saint Josemaría.
We pray that there may be many families that form “bright and cheerful homes, as was that of the Holy Family,” in the words of Saint Josemaría. We raise our gratitude to God for the gift of the family, a reflection of the eternal love of the Blessed Trinity, a place in which each person knows him or herself to be loved for his or her own sake, just the way he or she is. And now we also give thanks to all the mothers and fathers that have gathered together here, and to all those people who care for children, the elderly, and the sick.
Families: our Lord loves you, our Lord is present within your marriage, which is an image of Christ’s love for his Church. I know that many of you dedicate yourselves with great generosity to helping other marriages along their path of fidelity, to helping many other homes march onwards in a social context that oftentimes is difficult and even hostile. Keep at it! The whole world needs your work of witness and evangelization. Remember that, as our beloved Benedict XVI said, “Faithfulness over time is the name of love.”
3. “Be thankful,” Saint Paul exhorts us (Col 3, 15). Blessed Álvaro, considering his indebtedness to Saint Josemaría, stated that “making good use of gifts received is the best way to show our gratitude.” In his preaching, in family gatherings, in personal encounters, everywhere, he never ceased to speak about apostolate and evangelization. To abide in the love of God that we have received, we must share it with others; God’s goodness spreads outwards. Pope Francis said that “it is in prayer that the Lord makes us understand this love, but it is also through the many signs that we can recognize in our life, in the many people he sets on our path. And the joy of the encounter with him and with his call does not lead to shutting oneself in but to opening oneself; it leads to service in the Church.”
“It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you” (Jn 15:16). Our Lord, after stressing that the initiative is always his and that his love comes first, sends us forth to spread his Love to everyone: “I have appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain” (ibid.). “Manete in dilectione mea, remain in my love” (Jn 15:9). To bear fruit that also puts down deep roots, it is necessary to remain in the Lord. Jesus had just said so to his disciples: “Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me” (Jn 15:4).
The multitude of people here for these days, millions more people throughout the world, and so many who await us in heaven, bear witness to the fruitfulness of Don Álvaro’s life. I encourage you, brothers and sisters, to abide and grow in God’s love: through prayer, through Mass and frequent Communion, through sacramental confession, so that, strengthened by God's special love, we may learn how to pass on what we have received, and implement it through an authentic apostolate of friendship and confidence.
In the letter which Pope Francis wrote to me on the occasion of yesterday’s beatification, he told us that “we cannot keep the faith to ourselves, it is a gift that we have received to give it and share it with others”; and he also said that Blessed Álvaro “encourages us not to be afraid of going against the grain and suffering so as to proclaim the Gospel,” and furthermore that “he also teaches us that in simplicity and ordinary life we can discover a sure path to holiness.”
Along this path, together with many angels, we are accompanied by the Blessed Virgin. Mary is a daughter of God the Father, the Mother of God the Son, and Spouse and Temple of God the Holy Spirit. She is the Mother of God and our Mother, the Queen of the family, the Queen of Apostles. May she help us, as she did Don Álvaro, to respond to the invitation of the Successor of Peter: “to let oneself be loved by the Lord, to open one’s heart to his love, and allow Him to guide our life,” a desire which Saint Josemaría entrusted on so many occasions to Our Lady of Almudena, who is so loved and venerated in this Archdiocese. Amen.