My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
This is such a beautiful new moment of grace! We give glory to God today as we thank him for the gift of this great Cathedral!
In a special way, we give want to give thanks for all those many people, at every level, who worked hard and sacrificed for many years to help build this great temple to the living God in the heart of this great city.
So let us celebrate with great joy today. Thanks be to God! Viva Jesús, María, Joseph!
In the heart of this metropolis, this Cathedral reminds us that we are living in the City of the Angels. ¡El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles!
My brothers and sisters, this Cathedral should remind us every day that our modern, secularized city — which plays such a big role in shaping opinions, fashions and culture — is named for the angels of God and the Blessed Mother of Jesus Christ, who is the Queen of all the Angels in heaven.
Los Angeles — and all of California and the Americas — are built on a Christian foundation. They are products of the Christian mission to the New World. We can never forget that!
Because this Cathedral was built to continue that mission in our times. It’s fitting that it was consecrated ten years ago on this date — which is near the anniversary of the founding of Los Angeles in 1781.
The founders of this Cathedral knew that the story of Los Angeles is part of the great story of salvation that God is still writing in the history of the nations.
This is the story that is told in these beautiful tapestries that surround us in the sanctuary. It is a story of conversion and witness. It is a story of men and women seeking God and his holiness — their eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, following him with faith and joy.
Like all good religious art, these tapestries move us to prayer and reflection. Today, it strikes me that in one of these tapestries, St. Mark, the Gospel writer, is standing right next to Blessed Junípero Serra, the father of the California missions.
For me, this is a beautiful symbol of the unity of God’s saving plan of love.
Christ’s apostles carried his Gospel from Galilee and Jerusalem throughout Europe and Asia. Centuries later, their successors sent missionaries from Spain to the Americas — which they called the New World. ¡Del Nuevo Mundo¡
These missionaries came up from Mexico to evangelize California. They built mission churches up and down the long road they called the King’s Highway, El Camino Real. As we know, that original highway passed by not far from this place.
My brothers and sisters, we are all children of this great mission to California and the Americas. This Cathedral is the newest of our “mission churches.”
And this mission continues in you and in me. The faith we have received, we are called to give to others. Through our faith and in our lives, we are all called to write new chapters in the story of salvation. We are called to build on the foundations laid by Padre Serra and those first missionaries.
In our second reading today from the Word of God, St. Peter tells us that we are living stones called to build a spiritual house.
This is how we have to think about our lives, my brothers and sisters.
This Cathedral — made from stone, glass, marble and wood — is a symbol of God’s living Church. It is a symbol of the spiritual temple that God is building in his world throughout history. Christ is the cornerstone of this building. But God is building his Church with us, my brothers and sisters. We are his “building materials.” Each of us is a living stone.
God wants to make this whole world his Church. A sanctuary of his love. A temple where he comes to meet his children, and where we can worship and adore him in spirit and in truth.2
This beautiful truth is told in the tapestries that hang behind our altar. As we see, the city streets of Los Angeles are represented, along with some of the last words from the Bible’s last book:
God will dwell with them.
They will be God’s people and God will be with them.3
This is God’s plan for our city and our continent! This Cathedral is a sacrament — a living sign — of God’s intentions. Because here, in this Cathedral, God is already alive and with us!
But until the close of the age, he will be with us always in this Cathedral, and in every Catholic Church.4 In the sacrifice of the holy Eucharist at this beautiful altar, he makes himself present. To be our spiritual food and drink. To give us strength for our mission. In the tabernacle in our beautiful chapel, he remains with us — in his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity — so that we can adore him with profound reverence.5
We need to remember these things, my brothers and sisters. This is more than a building. This is a holy place. This is hallowed ground.
The heart of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, is beating here — in the very center of our secularized city. When we pass by on the streets — when we pass by this or any other Catholic church — do we realize the treasure that we have inside? Within these walls made by human hands, we have God!
Here in this Cathedral, men and women can come to listen to the living Word of God — just as the people of Israel did in the first reading we heard today. Here in this Cathedral, men and women can come to the personal encounter with Jesus Christ — just as Zacchaeus did in the Gospel reading we heard today.
My brothers and sisters, the mission of this Cathedral — and the duty of each one of us — is to help our neighbors to rediscover the living God who comes to us in Jesus Christ. We need to find new ways to touch their hearts. We need to find new ways to open them to the truth of God’s loving purposes for their lives.
This Cathedral is the mother and the head of all the churches in this great Archdiocese. And today, we must rededicate ourselves to making this Cathedral the living heart of a new mission to our city and our continent.
Let’s make this a City of the Angels! A city of where the reality of God is realized and glorified. A city where God’s teachings are the foundations of a society where we live as brothers and sisters, sharing in the good gifts of God’s creation.
We need to bring the living God we receive in the Eucharist — outside beyond these Cathedral walls. We need to carry Jesus Christ into our homes and occupations and into all our civic duties as citizens and neighbors. We need to make the beauty of his Gospel the foundation of a new culture of life and hope.
So in this new moment of grace, let us live with a new desire to be “living stones” and to build up God’s Church on earth.
And let us ask the intercession of Our Lady of the Angels, so that she might help each of us to become like her — a living temple of God’s love.6
1. Readings: Neh. 8:1-4a, 5-6, 8-10; Ps. 19:8-11; 1 Pet. 2:4-9; Luke 19:1-10.
2. John 4:23-24.
3. Rev. 21:1-4, 22.
4. Matt. 28:20.
5. Luke 24:29.
6. 1 Cor. 3:16-17.