Josemaria Escriva. Founder of Opus Dei

Conversing with Everyone

All this Jesus said to the crowds in parables (Mt 13:34).

Our Lord does not limit his dialogue to a small, restricted group: he talks with everyone. With the holy women, with the entire crowd; with representatives of the upper classes of Israel like Nicodemus, and with publicans like Zacchaeus; with scrupulously observant persons, and with sinners like the Samaritan woman; with the sick and with the healthy; with the poor, whom he loved with all his heart; with the doctors of the law and with pagans, whose faith he praised as greater than any in Israel; with the elderly and with children.

Jesus does not deny anyone his word, and it is a word which heals, which consoles, which enlightens. How many times I have meditated and had others meditate upon this apostolic style of Christ, at once both human and divine, based on friendship and confidence!

Recall Christ's conversation with the Samaritan woman. What a marvelous way of speaking! He knows how to say things in such a way that this woman is transformed from a sinner to a proclaimer of the truth: Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ? They went out of the city and were coming to him. Yes, my daughters and sons, the dialogue of Christ is not a will-o'-the-wisp, nor a vain mental exercise; it is the word of truth that ignites and enkindles with a divine flame.

Jesus always speaks with love. He has compassion on the sorrow of the widow of Naim, on the misery of the lepers; he has mercy, above all, with the sinner. Jesus is expertly tactful, in saying an encouraging word, in corresponding to friendship with friendship in return. What conversations those in the house of Bethany, with Lazarus, Martha, and Mary!

But Jesus also knows how to be demanding, knows how to get people to face their duties squarely, even at the risk of being spurned. See how the heart of Christ is shown in his concern for the rich young man who approaches him on one occasion: Jesus looks upon him with love, while he asks of him detachment from his riches. Qui contristatus in verbo abiit moerens, the adolescent went away sad, because the word of God – when it is not accepted – becomes as bitter as bile.

Therefore, talk is not enough; we have to act, we have to put into practice the teaching we receive. Otherwise, dialogue – even dialogue with God – is not fruitful; because not everyone who says to me: Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of my Father, they will enter.

Jesus is not moved by considerations of false prudence, nor by a deceitful politeness that would smooth over the hard edges of the truth. He talks, for instance, with some Pharisees who were after him ut caperent eum in sermone, to attack him using whatever words came out of his mouth. But he does not vacillate in speaking the truth, calling by name that which has no other name: Brood of vipers – he exclaims – how can you speak good, when you are evil? Another time it is he who initiates the dialogue, even if he is not being interrogated. Jesus speaks because he sees in his surroundings the need to give doctrine, to correct a twisted mentality: Simon, habeo tibi aliquid dicere; Simon, I have something to say to you. Jesus does not understand dialogue as a concession that falsifies the truth.

He is inclined to speak with everyone, even those who do not wish to know the truth, like Pilate: Tu dicis quia rex sum ego. Ego in hoc natus sum, et ad hoc veni in mundum, ut testimonium perhibeam veritati: omnis qui est ex veritate audit vocem meam; (You say that I am a king. For this I was born and for this I have come into the world: to give witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.). But – when the moment calls for it – he speaks without euphemisms, even harshly. At times tough actions accompany tough words: And making a whip of cords, he drove them all…out of the temple. Do not think that our Lord was irascible. He is mitis et humilis corde, meek and humble of heart; but he knows that the heart of man is sometimes as hard as bronze, and that only fire can melt it: the fire of love, the fire of the truth, the fire of the mission received from the Father. And so, the least symptom of good will, of desire to know that which is authentic, is reason enough for him to bend over backwards to enlighten, to bless, to praise.

Letter dated October 24, 1965, published in Studi Cattolici, 293/204 (1985)