My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
As I was saying, it is beautiful to be with all of you this morning for this special celebration of the 75th Anniversary of St. Eugene’s parish!
It is indeed a historic occasion! 75 years! We are especially asking that your patron saint, St. Eugene to, as I said before, to continue to bless us — bless all of you especially your families for the grace of their future in your parish.
But today also we especially give thank for all the men and women who founded this parish 75 years ago. The priests and religious, lay faithful — all the ones that have been here for these 75 years, we give thanks to God for them.
Every time that we celebrate an anniversary like this, we are witnessing beauty of the family of God in the Church. You can just imagine how many Masses have been said in this very parish, how many celebrations of the Sacraments, and ministry and service to so many people. I guess thousands of people have come through this parish in these 75 years.
And as I said before, today we celebrate the feast of St. Peter Claver. And we know that he gave his life to celebrate the poor, especially African victims of slavery and human trafficking in Latin America. In fact, as you probably know, tomorrow Pope Francis will be offering prayers at his shrine in Columbia, South America.
And this day, in memory of the life and ministry of St. Peter Claver, the Bishops of the United States have designated today a National Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities.
So, on this national day of prayer and on this anniversary of St. Eugene, let us thank God for the faith and courage of our ancestors. For all those men and women who throughout the years struggled against racism and discrimination and who handed to us, in this parish and in the Church, the great legacy of our faith, which is the witness to the holy Church and to our society.
And especially, I think let us renew our commitment to continue bringing justice and peace and reconciliation to our communities. Sometimes when we reflect on what is happening in the world and in our country, we especially need to keep praying for peace and for respect for the human person — the dignity of the human person.
St. Paul tells us in the first reading this morning that —
God has now reconciled you
in the fleshly Body of Christ through his death,
to present you holy, without blemish,
and irreproachable before him.
My dear brothers and sisters, this is the good news that Jesus Christ came to bring to us! The good news of freedom and holiness and peace with God and peace with our neighbors!
And this is what the Church is meant to be — one family of God. This is what St. Eugene’s has been, and every parish in the Archdiocese, and every community in the universal Catholic Church.
A place for freedom, holiness, and peace. The Church, as we know, and every parish is a communion of communities. This who we are meant to be.
It is, as we know, one family.
But in this family, we see the beautiful diversity of God’s creation. We speak many languages. We come together from many different cultures, nationalities and family backgrounds.
This is God’s beautiful dream, the Church is a beautiful family.
We can see today, you know, in the different ways that we come together and we find God’s love for each one of us. Sometimes we think different cultures can be a challenge for our society. I think it’s the opposite. I mean as I said, I’m so happy to be with you today, my homily’s not going to be too long, I hope, and the Mass is probably not going to be too long either, like happens in other places — I don’t want to talk about Nigeria, but I understand that the Masses are a little longer over there, is that correct?
Maybe one day I’ll get an invitation to go and be at one of those Masses, I’m sure that I’m going to enjoy it.
But we are family and this is the beauty of our Church. But we have to remember, my dear brothers and sisters, that God’s dream — the beautiful dream of God that the Church is a beautiful family — is still a work in progress.
We are on our way. But we are not there yet. And we will never get there unless each one of us takes responsibility. You and me. Together.
It’s a beautiful challenge and beautiful task that we all have. This is our mission — in the Church and in our society. To bring that dream to reality — that we are really one family of God.
And each one of us, we need to fill that responsibility. I’m sure that we do. And today, as we are gathered for this celebration, it’s a beautiful moment when we can ask God for the grace to be able to do just that — to actively make our families and our parishes the family of God.
To be a witness to what God wants for this world. We need to proclaim this good news to every person under heaven. We need to be people who show — a better way.
As Pope Francis said in one of his homilies in the during his trip to Colombia, South America, he said, “Like the apostles, we need to call out to one another. To signal each other. To see each other again as brothers and sisters — companions in the way, partners in this common cause which is the life.
Jesus has passed and continues to pass to offer his presence and his fruitful world to call out of darkness and bring us to light and to life.
And St. Paul — the reality is that society’s not dead yet, that’s why it’s so important for us to continue to be very active in bringing this sense of one family to our society.
And that’s what St. Paul is talking about in the first reading today — people are sometimes “alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds.”
And that’s what Jesus is confronting in the Gospel we just heard this morning.
As we see in this Gospel, people were confused. They had lost perspective. Their ways of thinking made it hard for them to see — what was obvious. That God desires mercy, that God wants the hungry to be fed!
God made this world, God made all of creation — for all of us! Not just a few. Not just for some. This is what Jesus means when he says today: “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
God is the one who has a plan for the human person and for society. Sometimes it seems that we think that we have a better plan, but God’s plan is obviously much better. That’s what Jesus is telling the people today in the passage of the Gospel.
So, it’s a beautiful challenge that we all have, to continue to bring to reality the plan of God for the human person, for society, and for our parishes. Let’s especially ask St. Peter Claver to help us. He used to say: “We need to speak with our hands, before we try to speak with our lips.”
Love and service, and making peace and bringing people together. This is the legacy of the people that have worshipped here at St. Eugene. And this is the message of love we are continuing to bring to our people and to our society.
So let’s ask for the intercession of St. Peter Claver. Let us ask also St. Eugene to help us.
This morning I was reading about St. Eugene on the webpage for St. Eugene school and it say there that he was from an aristocratic family. He was a man of considerable disposition. He was a cleric from his earliest years, distinguished for his gentleness, sanctity, and generosity.
That’s a beautiful program of life, for the one’s going to school there and for all of us.
So let’s ask him for his intercession. Let’s ask for the grace to follow his example.
Today we especially pray for strength, we go forward in the hope of the Gospel.
Let us ask Our Blessed Mother Mary, who is our Mother and the Mother of every person, to help us to believe in the power of the Gospel. In the power of love.
And may she help us on our journey, to build the dream of God — one beautiful family of God in our society in the whole world.
1. Readings (Memorial of St. Peter Claver): Col. 1:21-23; Luke 6:1-5.