As I write, we are getting ready for our third annual OneLife LA family festival in praise of human life and human dignity.
This year we are holding our event on Jan. 21 at Exposition Park at the University of Southern California.
I am excited; it is going to be a great day and “catholic” in the true sense of the word, meaning universal and international. Our main presenter this year is Immaculée Illibagiza, who brings her stories of reconciliation and justice from Africa. And again this year, I will be joined by my good friend Bishop Charles E. Blake, who presides over the Church of God in Christ, one of the nation’s largest black churches. This year, I am grateful that Bishop Blake is also bringing with him his 100-member West Angeles Mass Choir to perform for us.
This year’s OneLifeLA will once again feature live music, inspiring presentations, food trucks, service projects and participation from our community’s most innovative workers for justice and human development. So join us! More information is available at OneLifeLA.org.
From the beginning, we intended OneLife LA to be more than a one-day event once a year — “OneLife” is meant to be a movement. It is my dream for Los Angeles and, really, for our country and our continent.
OneLife is a vision of a society of solidarity, love and service. It is a vision of a society where we do not see “others,” but see only brothers and sisters — children of God who share our common human nature and are deserving of love and care, and everything we can do to promote their freedom and dignity.
It is our vision of the “beloved community” that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. talked about and gave his life for. And I find it fitting that each year our celebration falls in the same week as our national day of remembrance for Rev. King.
This year, OneLife LA also falls the day after the inauguration of our new president in Washington, D.C.
It is a time of transition and uncertainty in our country. But, for me, I hope it will also be a time for us to begin thinking in a new and serious way about the kind of people we want to be, the kind of society we want to live in — about renewing the soul of our country.
We need to repair the basic elements of our civic life together, starting with the sense of God — the sense that we are alive in his presence, that he is our creator.
It is time to start with basic truths again. We are all brothers and sisters. This in not just “happy talk.” This is the truth. St. Paul said that we are all members one of another. He was describing reality, not a moral ideal.
We need to start seeing others as God sees them. We need to return to the understanding that everyone we meet bears the image and likeness of God, that every person we meet is loved by God and worthy of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Either God is the Father of all of us, or he is the Father of none of us. And if he is not our Father, then we are left all on our own, left to fend for ourselves. If God is not our Father, then human society in practice will revert to the law of the jungle, where the vulnerable and weak are at the mercy of the strong.
We also need to return to the spirit and practice of the Golden Rule, as Jesus said: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
The Golden Rule leads to radical empathy and radical solidarity.
Empathy reminds us again of our common humanity. And when we really believe that the other person is a brother or a sister, then we are ready to walk in their shoes, to enter into their suffering and pain. We are ready to commit ourselves to defending their dignity and helping them to live as God intends them to live.
When we truly love others as we want to be loved, then we understand that we are all in this together, that no one of us can go it alone. We will see that our lives together are truly lives together. This is the beginning of social peace and social justice.
And this is our vision for OneLife LA — and I pray that one day it will be the vision and reality for our country.
So pray for me this week and I will pray for you. And let us pray for our new president, and for our country.
May Our Blessed Mother Mary intercede for us, that we might have the courage to love and together we will renew the soul of our nation.