My brothers and sisters,
It is a great joy for me to celebrate this Holy Eucharist with you.
I welcome all of you, once again, to our Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
It is a special grace to be able to welcome you, my brothers and sisters, who represent the great world religions and Christian communities that are present here in Los Angeles. I know some of you had the opportunity to meet our new saint, St. John Paul II, when he visited our city in 1987. It is an honor to have all of you with us this afternoon. We are blessed by your presence and your prayers.
So welcome to all of you, my brothers and sisters.
We are here this afternoon because this morning in Rome, Pope Francis canonized Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II, declaring them saints!
It is a custom in our Catholic tradition, to offer thanksgiving for new saints who have touched our lives in a special way. So in this Eucharist, we are giving glory to God and for the lives of these two great saints of the 20th century!
Both of our new saints loved life and they lived life to the fullest — with their arms open to the world and their hearts open to God. And each, in his own way, changed the course of history in our times.
When we read the journals and spiritual writings of St. John XXIII, we meet a gentle man, a man of goodness and inner peace, who had a simple love for God and for the whole human family.
St. John Paul II had a totally different personality. But like St. John XXIII, he was deeply rooted in the faith of his family and his country, and he was motivated by the same deep desire for God.
I know that many of you were touched by the life of St. John Paul, especially. And I know that for many of you, he changed your lives. He changed my life, too.
I was a new priest, ordained only three months, when he was elected Pope. And I have felt his presence and guidance through my whole ministry — first as a priest and still today as a bishop. I still look to St. John Paul II as a wise spiritual father and as an example for how I should be living as a child of God.
Our new saints gave us a message for our times. And their message is not just for Catholics, it is a message for everyone.
Our new saints showed us how to live a holy life in “unholy” times. They showed us how to live in a world where the awareness of God is fading, where more and more people are living as if God does not exist. They showed us what we must do to live in these times where the sanctity and dignity of human life is forgotten or denied.
John XXIII brought us a message of peace and John Paul II brought us a message of mercy. And together they spoke to the deepest needs and longings of the people of our time.
My brothers and sisters, our world needs more peace. Our world needs more mercy. We all know this. Our new saints knew this, too. And as we noticed, mercy and peace are the themes in the readings from Sacred Scripture that we heard today in this sacred liturgy.
In our second reading today, we heard the words of St. Paul:
Blessed be ... God
who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope
through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
And in the Gospel passage, we heard the great promise of Jesus:
Peace be with you! ...
Receive the Holy Spirit.
For Christians, mercy and peace are great gifts from God. Gifts that Jesus brings us. We believe that God’s mercy flows from the heart of Christ who makes peace by his Cross — reconciling all things in creation and breaking down the walls of hostility that separate us from God and keep us apart from one another. ii
But mercy and peace are not only a “Christian” message.
That’s why our new saints had such reverence for Judaism and the other great religions of the world. Because they knew that true religion is always a journey that leads to God and a journey that leads to compassion for others.
And we know this too, my brothers and sisters. We know that we have this common task, this common responsibility for the human family. We are called to bear witness together — that life is precious and that only God, the true and living God, can satisfy our human desires for happiness and love, for mercy and peace.
My brothers and sisters, we need to make this a time of mercy in our world and a time of peace. This is the message of our new saints!
We all remember the story of St. John Paul II showing mercy to the man who tried to assassinate him. We remember how he went to the man’s jail cell and spoke to him and prayed for him. He told this man, “I forgive you.” He even petitioned the authorities to have the man pardoned. And eventually this man was set free.
This is a beautiful example for all of us. We all need to have more compassion, more understanding for others. Especially for those who are closest to us — in our families, in our neighborhoods. We need to forgive more. And we need to do better at seeking forgiveness from those we have hurt by our words and actions.
This is the path of peace, the path of mercy. And this is the path that our new saints teach us to follow.
In every age, the saints show us the power of God and the beautiful possibilities that God intends our lives.
So we thank God today for the example that he has given us in the lives of St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II. We ask their prayers of intercession today — for peace in our world and peace in our hearts.
And we ask the prayers of our Mother Mary, the Holy Mother of Jesus. We ask her to help us — that we might always love God with a pure heart and with compassion for others.