Sunday, March 02, 2014

Repeat: The Spirit of Opus Dei in the Light of Pope Francis and the Good Samaritan

Blessed Alvaro del Portillo: Letter, January 9, 1993: [Reference to the parable of the Good Samaritan]
“The desire to attend to, and where possible to remedy, the material needs of one’s neighbor, without neglecting one’s other obligations, like the Good Samaritan, is a distinguishing feature of the fusion of priestly soul and lay mentality. What God asks of us is, in the first place, to sanctify our daily work and the duties of our state. As you attend to those duties, God allows you to encounter the needs and sorrows of others. When that happens, a clear sign that you are carrying out your tasks with a priestly soul is that you do not pass by uncaringly; and it is no less clear a sign if you do so without abandoning the other duties you must sanctify. At this time it would not be good for you to copy what I did for many years with the first people of the Work: visiting hospitals and looking after sick people, cleaning them and bathing them. I had to give it up because it was not compatible with this other work, the task Our Lord asks of me now. And the same happens to you: when you choose to sanctify yourselves in the place where Our Lord has put you, you have to abstain from other good things which are not part of your way (Reference to a get-together with St. Josemaria on June 21, 1972).
God wants you to remain where you are. From that place you can carry out – you are carrying out – an immense service to the poor and needy, to all those who suffer ignorance, loneliness and sorrow (often as a result of injustice). When you seek holiness with all your strength, trying to sanctify your daily work and your family and social relations, you contribute to imbuing human society with a Christian spirit. I am not referring now only to those of you who occupy leading positions in financial, political or social circles. I am thinking of all the daughters and all the sons of our Father, who, while turning into prayer their work, their entire day – in occupations that perhaps are not very spectacular, like the work and the life of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph – are placing Our Lord at the summit of all human activities. And then you can be sure that he will draw all things to himself and fully satisfy your hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

The Innkeeper – the key to understanding the parable in the light of the spirit of Opus Dei.
  “Let us mediate also on how the parable ends. To look after the wounded man the Samaritan enlisted the help of the innkeeper. How could he have managed without him? Our Father admired this man, the owner of the inn: he passed unnoticed, yet he did most of the work, acting in his professional capacity. Looking at what he did you will understand firstly, that by carrying out your work you can all do as well as he did, because every occupation offers many opportunities to help the needy, either directly or indirectly. This is certainly true of the work of a doctor, a lawyer, or a business man who does not close his eyes to people’s material needs. Even though the law may not oblige him, he knows he is under an obligation in justice and charity. But office workers, tradesmen or farmers also have many opportunities to serve others – at times, perhaps, in spite of great personal hardship. Don’t forget, as I have said before, that to carry out ordinary work faithfully, is hardship. Don’t forget, as I have said before, that to carry iout our ordinary work faithfully, is itself to practice the virtue or charity towards individuals and towards society at large.
“Secondly, concern for the poor and the sick should lead you, inspired by the priestly soul and lay mentality which characterize our spirit, to cooperate in or initiate social programs which aim to remedy, in a truly professional manner, these needs of mankind and many others. As a consequence of your apostolic zeal, a great variety of undertakings of this kind have already been started all over the world. The have sprung up widely different situations and environments in response to the problems of a society which needs to be made more human, more Christian! Training schools for people of limited resources, centers of formation for workers on the land, activities for the advancement of women in rural areas, dispensaries, schools in poorer districts of large cities…” it is a sea without shores, like all our apostolic work, which in all its multiplicity constitutes a great service to society. There are indeed many such initiatives, and I pray to God that they may continue to grow in number and that he bless your enterprise and your effort.

“My daughters and sons, I have reminded you that the sanctification of our work, with the variety of aspects shown by the Good Samaritan and the innkeeper, is the great means available to us to extend  the kingdom of Christ and to fulfill this demand of his kingly mission  - attending to persons in need – which the Holy Father [John Paul  II] refers to so often, in an attempt to awaken the sleepy consciences of many Christians. In this task the Holy Father is relying on us, who have to be salt and light, as he said to us on the day of our Father’s Beatification, when he encouraged us to be filled with ‘an enthusiastic apostolic dynamism, paying particular attention to the poor and  those in need, because he is familiar with many of the activities of that kind which the faithful of the Prelature carry out all over the world.”

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