My brothers and sisters in Christ,
I’m happy to be back. I was out for some different commitments outside of the Archdiocese during the month of September. And then in the beginning of the month of October we had different celebration of anniversaries of some of the parishes in the Archdiocese so I was not able to be with you all for the celebration of the ten o’clock Mass here. But, for good or bad, I’m back and I’m happy.
One of the trips was to Rome and I had the blessing of being with Pope Francis. I attended the general audience first and then we had a private audience with the Holy Father. And I just wanted to share with you that the Holy Father gave his Apostolic Blessing to all of you here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
So today I’m bringing especially to you that blessing of Pope Francis. He was very happy with some of the things that are happening in the United States. Especially with the Fifth Encuentro — the Quinto Encuentro — that has been a beautiful process of helping all of us to become missionary disciples all over the country.
So, it is a great grace that we are receiving the blessing of Pope Francis. I also want today to especially welcome all those who are participating in our first Catholic Foster Family Appreciation Day.
We want to thank all of you and express our gratitude for all those who have opened their families to welcome children in need of love and affection. Fostering is a work of mercy and a work of hope, and it is a sign of our Lord’s loving presence in our world today.
So thank you all the families for this special grace of becoming foster families.
Today is also joyful day in the universal Church, because we have a new saint! We have several saints — I think there are a total of five new saints that Pope Francis named this morning in Rome. But one of them is especially important for us — St. John Henry Newman, a holy priest and Cardinal from England, and one of the most beautiful writers and thinkers in the history of the Church.
If you don’t know anything about him, there is some information in the Angelus magazine this week.
For me, Cardinal Newman — now Saint Cardinal Newman — has been an inspiration and these past days I’ve been especially been thinking about him. I was reflecting on something beautiful he used to say. It goes like this:
“God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission … a part in this great work.”
For me it is a reminder of my personal call to holiness. And I think it is also a beautiful quote asking us to reflect on how we have a specific mission from God.
And this is the truth about our lives — yours and mine. God has a plan for your life, he made you for a reason! Your life has a mission, just as our new saint said.
It’s beautiful to think about it because that’s the reality of my life, the reality of your life — each one of us.
As you know, this month is special also because Pope Francis has declared this month to be “Extraordinary Mission Month.”
And the Holy Father wants all of us to reflect on this beautiful idea — that God has created us and has given us a mission. And this mission is to bring the love of Jesus to the people in our lives, to bring his peace and joy to every situation.
So, in other words, to bring the love of God to the people around us, but to everyone — that’s our mission as disciples of Jesus Christ and that’s exactly what the Church is asking us to reflect on in today’s readings.
In our first reading, we heard how a Syrian man with leprosy named Naaman is healed in the waters of the Jordan River, and we heard how he returned to the prophet Elisha and he was so happy and grateful for the love of God.
And I was thinking that this scene makes us remember our own baptism. Like Naaman, we are plunged into the waters of baptism and God washed away the “leprosy” of our sin. Original sin, especially for some of us who were baptized just a few weeks or months after we were born.
So, baptism is the gift of new life — life as a child of God! And we should always be happy and thankful to God for the extraordinary grace of receiving the Sacrament of Baptism.
So, it is God who gives us the gift of life and it is God who gives us the gift of a new life with our faith.
And that’s also the lesson from the passage of the Gospel from today’s Mass.
Such a beautiful story about Jesus and his love for us. As we heard, Jesus is entering a village, and he sees some lepers standing, looking at him from off in the distance. They see Jesus and they start calling to him, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”
My dear brothers and sisters, just like those sick people, those lepers, we need to call out to Jesus for mercy, for forgiveness.
Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!
And it is very interesting because Jesus, as you probably notice, instructed the lepers to show themselves to the priest. So we see why the saints teach us that this a story about the meaning of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
When we go to Confession, we are like those sick people, asking the Lord to cleanse us through the ministry of his priests. And Jesus does that! He heals us, he reconciles us, he makes it possible for us to keep walking by faith and following his way in our lives.
So grateful for the Sacrament of Baptism, grateful for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. God, who is there always for us.
But then, we hear in the passage of the Gospel that only one of the ten lepers came back to thank Jesus. Just one and that one is a Samaritan, a foreigner. Just like Naaman in the first reading was also a foreigner, a Syrian.
It’s interesting because these readings also remind us that God’s salvation is universal, his love is open to all! No matter who they are or where they were born or what is the situation in their lives.
So he comes back to Jesus, glorifying God, singing his praises. He’s shouting in a loud voice all about what Jesus has done for him.
Because he realized how extraordinary that was. His heart has been opened. He has experienced God’s mercy, his forgiveness and he can only respond in joy, with gratitude and thanksgiving!
Isn’t this also our experience, my dear brother and sisters? We have been healed and saved. We should live with that same joy, that same gratitude to God for all his blessings upon each one of us!
And of course, the greatest act of thanksgiving, as we know, is the Eucharist. “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving.” This is how we worship God — by giving thanks for his gifts. As he offers his Body and Blood for us, we offer our lives back to him, in thanksgiving.
Grateful to God for the Sacrament of Baptism. Grateful to God for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Gratitude to God for the Eucharist, the real presence of Jesus in our lives.
So this week, let’s try to especially be grateful. To exercise this beautiful virtue of gratitude and thankfulness. We can do it personally to God — in our prayer and relationship with him — and we can also show it in being grateful to people around us.
There’s so many reason with which we should be thankful to the people around us in so many ways.
So, let’s become grateful people! Let us ask Mary our Blessed Mother Mary for her intercession that we all always give thanks to God. Not just by word but with our whole lives! God is so merciful and so loving to each one of us, let’s correspond to that with our lives, especially giving thanks to God and to people around us!
1. Readings: 2 Kings 5:14-17; Ps. 98:1-4; 2 Tim. 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19.