My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Yesterday we celebrated the Ascension of our Lord, so we know that Jesus Christ has opened up the gates of heaven for every soul.
So, we gather today in confidence. We have the great hope that just as Jesus was raised from the dead and taken into heaven, we will be reunited in heaven with the loved ones we remember today.
But as we honor the brave men and women who died in defense of our nation, let us pause to mourn the souls of our brothers and sisters who have departed since the beginning of this global pandemic.
The coronavirus has claimed the lives of nearly 100,000 people in our nation, and more than 2,000 in the three counties that make up the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Of course, we realize that these are not just numbers, that every number represents a soul that is precious to God and precious to their loved ones. Each is a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, a father or a mother.
And we know that too many of these beautiful souls have been forced to suffer and die alone, isolated from their loved ones. So today, we lift them up to God, we ask that he grant them peace and that he bring consolation to the ones they leave behind.
It makes sense that as we commemorate our fallen soldiers, it is also fitting, I think, that we take a moment to recognize the heroes of this pandemic, the doctors and nurses, the health care workers who are risking their lives every day to treat victims.
So my brothers and sisters, in today’s first reading, we hear the beautiful promise: “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race … He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.”
God is with us. He never leaves us alone. He dwells with us and in Jesus he is walking with us, guiding us by his Holy Spirit.
No matter what we have lost in this pandemic, nothing will ever take God away from us. Nothing can ever separate us from his love.
God’s love is the Spirit that connects heaven and earth, and unites the living and the dead.
And the men and women we honor today died for love. They made the final sacrifice to defend the values we enjoy, the principles of freedom and human dignity.
They gave their lives to defend the truths that our great nation holds to be self-evident. The truth that all men and women are created equal. The truth that we are all children of one God, endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights — to life, to liberty and to the pursuit of happiness.
They died in fields of war for you and for me — so that we could gather on this morning in peace and in freedom.
So we know that God made us to live in peace. Our God is the Father of mercies and the God of peace. God does not want to see his children suffering; God does not want to see his children killing one another. And he desires love and peace for every person.
In the Gospel today, Jesus tells us: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
God wants peace for his children. And peace begins in the human heart. Peace on earth begins with you and me.
It all comes down to love. We need to build a world where it is easier for people to love. And again it starts with us. It starts in your heart and mine.
Jesus said that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend. The men and women we remember today were people of great love.
Jesus also said: “Because I live, you also shall live.”2
So we have that beautiful promise — that these heroes who have fallen will rise to live with our Lord.
So my dear brothers and sisters, as we reflect on God’s love for each one of us and how the real peace starts in our hearts and it begins with love — we have to reflect also that Memorial Day is not only for the dead. Memorial Day is also for the living.
We stand here on sacred ground and honor those who have died. And we honor their sacrifice by consecrating ourselves to God, by promising to live for what they died for. By committing ourselves to continue the noble work of building a society of freedom, and peace, and human dignity.
So let us pray today for all the men and women today who are in harm’s way in places all around the world. Let us pray for everyone, here and overseas, who is working to keep our country safe and defend our values. We pray for the them and we pray for their families. May the Lord protect them and bring them home safely.
And on this Memorial Day, when our world seems to be fighting an invisible enemy, the coronavirus, let us ask God to increase our faith and grant wisdom to our leaders and prudence to all of us.
We ask everything through the Immaculate Heart of Mary our Blessed Mother, the Queen of Peace, and the Mother of the Church.
May she obtain for us every grace, and especially an end to this pandemic and the end of every war, that we might live in peace.