My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
I’m so happy to be here to celebrate this beautiful Eucharist with you on the Solemnity of Christ the King and the celebration of the anniversary of the birth of Blessed Junipero Serra.
As you know, I have special devotion to Blessed Junípero Serra. And of course, we all know that he is one of the spiritual heroes of the first evangelization of the New World.
So it is fitting that we are here tonight at this historic mission — which is the last of the nine missions founded by this great Apostle of California.
And it’s also fitting that we are here in this historic mission to conclude the Year of Faith.
This Year of Faith has truly been a season of grace for our Church. During this year, God gave us our first Pope from the Americas, our first Pope from the New World, Pope Francis.
And it is amazing that our Holy Father took the name of St. Francis. As we know, Blessed Junípero Serra was a Franciscan – and the Franciscans played an important part in the original evangelization of California, and the whole New World.
So my brothers and sisters, I think this Year of Faith has been providential. Because I believe that in our time God is calling the Church in the Americas to a new evangelization of our continent and our world. I believe God is calling us to make a new world of faith.
Just a few years before he founded this mission, Blessed Junípero wrote: “Missions, my Lord! Missions! That’s what this country needs! Missions will ... provide this country with what is most important — the light of the Holy Gospel.”2
That’s such a beautiful thought! This shows us the missionary heart of Blessed Junípero Serra. He was a man who loved Jesus and lived to proclaim his Gospel to all peoples.
He was a man who loved the Church and served her mission with courage and joy! He is an example to us. That’s how all of us should be living as followers of Jesus Christ.
Our country still needs missions, my brothers and sisters! And our country still needs missionaries! We are called to be those missionaries, my brothers and sisters! That’s what this Year of Faith has been all about.
Our Baptism makes us disciples. And being a disciple means being a missionary, an evangelizer. That doesn’t mean that we have to leave our homes and families and travel to some far-away land. No.
God is calling us to be missionaries of the everyday. To be missionaries in all the ordinary circumstances in our daily lives. We have to go out and meet people wherever they are at. In our homes. At school. In the places where we work. In the shadows and margins of our society.
We have to be good shepherds of people, like King David in the first reading that we heard this evening. That means we have to walk with people. We have to accompany them and be their friends. We have to guide them to God.
My brothers and sisters, we need to share with the people of our time — the good news of God’s mercy and love. We have to proclaim the good news that Jesus Christ has saved them.
In the Gospel we heard this evening, the rulers and the soldiers are mocking Jesus as he is hanging on the Cross. We heard their cruel words: If you are King ... save yourself.
But that’s the point, my brothers and sisters. Jesus refused to save himself — so that he could save us.
His power is the power of the powerless. His glory is the glory of love — love that lays down his life to serve others. And his Kingdom is the kingdom we can only enter — by way of his mercy and forgiveness of sins.
My brothers and sisters, I have been praying in this Year of Faith that all of us would rediscover our love for Jesus Christ and our “missionary vocation.” Our Christian duty to be evangelizers.
The people in our world today are looking for signs of God’s mercy and love. They want to know that he is present and active in the world. They want to know that his love is real.
That was the mission of Blessed Junípero Serra. That’s the reason he came to the New World. Now this is our mission, my brothers and sisters.
So let’s give thanks for this Year of Faith! And let’s give thanks for the gift of faith! Let us go forward into the new Church year with new confidence.
Let us today, renew our commitment to Christ telling Him that we want Him to reign in our life and that with his help we will collaborate in spreading his kingdom on earth: a kingdom of truth and life ... holiness and grace ... justice, love and peace.]
And let us ask Our Lady of Guadalupe — who is his Mother and our Mother — to make new love for Jesus to grow in our hearts. And may she guide us to fulfill our mission — of the new evangelization and making a new world of faith!
1. Readings (Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Year C): 2 Sam. 5:1-3; Ps. 122:1-5; Col. 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43.
2. Letter to Teodoro de Croix (August 22, 1778); Writings of Junípero Serra, 3:255.