MASS OF THANKSGIVING FOR THE CANONIZATION OF ST. TERESA OF CALCUTTA

Homily ·Ordinary time
By Archbishop Gomez
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, CA
September 04, 2016


My sisters and brothers in Christ,1

So we have a new saint for the universal Church! Thanks be to God!

We especially congratulate the Missionaries of Charity for the canonization of their foundress, Mother Teresa.

We can say it for the first time: St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us! Of course, here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, we knew that she was a saint even before she was canonized — that’s why she’s over there in the tapestries.

And also, I think the sisters have been here since 1991, so it’s 25 years, mas o menos. So it’s a nice 25th anniversary gift for all of you — it’s nice isn’t it?

So a beautiful day of celebration for the universal Church and for all of us, especially here in the Archdiocese as we know Mother Teresa was a number of time — so it was a beautiful grace for all of us to welcome her here and especially to have the Missionaries of Charity since 25 years ago.

This morning in Rome, during the canonization Mass, Pope Francis called Mother Teresa “a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defense of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded. And Pope Francis said, “may she be your model of holiness!”

My dear brothers and sisters, in Mother Teresa we have a model of holiness — not somebody just from long time ago, but someone who is a saint of our time and place.

She is also a saint, as I said before, who has a deep spiritual and pastoral connection to Los Angeles. I know that some of you heard her speak. Some of you even got to meet her and were able to touch her hand.

And it’s beautiful to think about — how many saints and blessed and venerable have lived and worked and visited here — Los Angeles. We are truly blessed to be a City of the Angels but also a City of Saints.

And the work of Sister Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity continues here among the poorest of the poor. The seeds of love and mercy that our new saint planted — continue to grow in our hearts, in our homes, and in our ministries.

She once said: “If I ever become a saint … I will continually be absent from Heaven to light the light of those in darkness on earth.”

So, what she was saying is that she wanted to be with us. And I’m sure that that’s what she’s going to do — cause now she can be in Heaven and she can be with us. It’s nice to be a saint!

That is a beautiful promise. That is what the saints are all about — showing us the path to God, shining a light in the darkness of our world. The darkness of poverty and injustice, loneliness and pain.

So we should pray today for her intercession, that she will come to guide us in our struggles, in our darkness. That she will come to be our light.

In the first reading of today’s Mass we heard from the Book of Wisdom says: “Who can conceive what the Lord intends? For the deliberations of mortals are timid, and unsure are our plans. … Scarce do we guess the things on earth … but when things are in heaven, who can search them out?”

This is the truth that our society cannot run or hide from: Without God — we will never truly live, we will never really be happy! Unless he comes to meet us, to show us the way, our paths on this earth will never be straight, we will wander without direction.

The love of God is not an abstraction. God’s love is a passion and a promise. God’s great desire is for us to find him and to know him — to feel his love, and to understand his beautiful plan for our lives and for our world.

Then God sends Jesus to show us the right path, to be our model for how we should live. Every man and woman is made to find Jesus; to come to him, and to follow him. This is God’s desire, God’s passion. That all men and women come to the encounter with Jesus Christ.

In the passage of the Gospel today, three times Jesus repeats these words: “Be my disciple.”

This is who we are meant to be, my brothers and sisters. This is our identity. We are disciples of Jesus, ones who have been called to follow him.

And Jesus tells us today that to be his disciple we have to leave behind our family and our past, all our plans and priorities, our possessions. Not because these things are bad! No! Jesus is calling us to exchange what is good — for something much better, infinitely better.

Jesus is calling us to put everything in the hands of God, to trust him with our whole life.

This is the journey that that our new saint made — yes, Mother Teresa. That’s what she did — leaving behind her mother and brother and all her possessions; putting everything in the hands of God, trusting him with her whole life — and going off to India as a migrant and a missionary.

But this journey that St. Teresa made is a journey that each one of us is called to make. We are called to make that journey of discipleship — to follow Christ and to carry our cross behind him and to become a new creation —a people made reborn and renewed in the image of Jesus Christ.

People used to ask her, “What’s it like to be a living saint?” And she would say, “I’m very happy if you can see Jesus in me,” and then she used to say, “but holiness is not just for a few people. It’s for everyone, including you.”

So my dear brothers and sisters, yes, holiness is for all of us — including you and me, believe it or not!

God sends us the saints to show us the way to follow Jesus. And that’s what the life and ministry of Mother Teresa helps us to understand.

Mother Teresa came to show us the way. Like Pope Francis she tells us that we must follow Jesus into the “peripheries” — where we find the poor and the prisoner, the immigrant and the refugee, the sick and the lonely.

Our love for the poor will be the measure of our love for God. Jesus said that. And this is the truth that St. Teresa of Calcutta came to remind us. She taught us to see the world through the merciful eyes of Jesus Christ.

And this is, my dear brothers and sisters, the meaning of mercy. The meaning of this Extraordinary Year of Jubilee of Mercy. Mercy opens the eyes of our hearts so that we can see the great dignity and sanctity of every single human life — we see in others a child of God, one who is exactly like us because we all are sons and daughters of God.

Children of God.

Mercy is also missionary, it leads us to seek a society where every life matters, where no one is left behind. Where the love of God is felt in our love for our neighbors.

This is the beautiful teaching of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

So let us thank God today for our newest saint. Pope Francis said this morning that it might be difficult for us to call her ‘St. Teresa’ because we are used to calling her ‘Mother Teresa,’ and I was thinking that well maybe what I like is ‘Saint Mother Teresa,’ that will be easier, don’t you think?

Let us ask her today to help us to be true saints in our everyday lives. To follow Jesus as his disciples, and to share his mercy and love with joy — in all the events and activities of our daily lives.

So, St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!

And may our Blessed Mother Mary help us to love as St. Mother Teresa loved — by making our lives something beautiful that we offer to God.

1. Readings (23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C): Wisd. 9:13–18; Ps. 90:3–6, 12–17; Phlm. 9–10, 12–17; Luke 14:25–33.

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