REFLECTION — V ENCUENTRO, ARCHDIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES

By Archbishop Gomez
Pasadena, California
January 27, 2018

My dear brothers and sisters,

We stand before this cross — La Cruz de los Encuentros. This is where our journey has led us — the journey of our lives, and our journey as Latino Catholics from Los Angeles and throughout the Americas.

This cross reminds us that every life must become a “cross-roads” — every life must become a “way of the cross.”

Esta Cruz de Encuentro nos recuerda que cada vida debe convertirse en una “encrucijada”. Cada vida debe convertirse en un “camino de la cruz”. El camino de cada vida conduce a esta “intersección”, donde nos encontramos con Jesús. Tal como lo hicieron los primeros discípulos en el camino a Emaús. En su amor, en su misericordia, Jesús quiere acercarse a cada uno de nosotros en nuestra jornada. Él quiere ir con nosotros en el camino de nuestra vida.

The path of every life leads to this “intersection” — where we encounter Jesus. Just as the first disciples did on the road to Emmaus.

In his love, in his mercy — Jesus wants to draw near to every one of us on our journey. He wants to go with us along the way of our life.

Like those disciples on the road to Emmaus, sometimes we are too distracted — we might be hurt, wounded by life’s disappointments — and our eyes are prevented from recognizing him.

But Jesus draws near to be with us — no matter where we are on the road of life. We may be sunk in despair or lost like the prodigal son in sin and bad living. But Jesus comes to seek us out.

Hoy, en este momento, Jesús viene a nosotros una vez más. Necesitamos invitarlo en nuestras vidas. Tal como lo hicieron los primeros discípulos cuando dijeron, “Quédate con nosotros”. Debemos permitir que sus palabras de amor una vez más ardan en nuestros corazones. Debemos unir nuestras vidas a su vida en la Eucaristía, dejar que abra nuestros ojos para conocerlo “en la fracción del pan”. Como lo hicieron esos primeros discípulos, hoy tenemos que tomar nuestra cruz y caminar detrás de Jesús, siguiéndolo mientras él lleva su cruz ante nosotros.

Today, in this moment, Jesus comes to us once more.

So, we need to give our hearts again to Jesus. We need to invite him into our lives. Just as those first disciples did when they said, “Stay with us.”

We need to allow his words of love — once more to burn in our hearts. We need to join our lives to his life in the Eucharist — to let him open our eyes to know him “in the breaking of the bread.”

My brothers and sisters, as those first disciples did — today we need to take up our cross and walk behind Jesus, following him as he carries his cross before us.

Two years ago, during his pilgrimage to the United States, I had the joy to present Pope Francis with La Cruz de los Encuentros — on behalf of all Latino Catholics in this country and throughout the Americas.

This cross we stand before today — is intended to be a replica of that Encuentro Cross, which symbolizes the national Encuentros sponsored over the years by the Catholic bishops of this country.

For me — and for many of us in my generation — the experience of the Encuentro inspired our faith and gave us a great sense of our responsibility as Latinos to be leaders in the Church and leaders in the new evangelization of our country.

And this is what this Fifth Encuentro is all about. My brothers and sisters, as Latinos we are called to be the leaders of our Church.

Este V Encuentro significa que nosotros como latinos estamos llamados a ser los líderes de nuestra Iglesia. No somos recién llegados o los que llegaron tarde o los que están al margen.¡Los primeros católicos en este país fueron latinos! ¡De España y desde México! ¡Nunca lo olviden, mis hermanos y hermanas!

We are not new-comers or late-comers or out-liers.

The first Catholics in this country were Latinos! From Spain and from Mexico! Never forget that, my brothers and sisters!

Pope Francis came to this country as the first Pope from Latin America and the first Pope to speak Spanish as his native language. And when he came to this country, the first thing he did was to canonize our first Latino saint — St. Junípero Serra, the great missionary founder of California and the United States.  

Pope Francis did that to stir our hearts, to stir our memories and our pride. The Pope is calling us to remember who we are and where we came from as Latinos!

¡El Papa Francisco nos llama a recordar quiénes somos y de dónde venimos como latinos! Fueron misioneros latinos como San Junípero quienes dirigieron el primero encuentro, el primer encuentro de los pueblos de este país con Jesucristo. Hoy estamos llamados a continuar esa misión de encuentro.

It was Latino missionaries like St. Junípero who led the first “encuentro” — the first encounter of the peoples of this country with Jesus Christ.

Today, we are called to continue that mission of “encuentro.”

The disciples at Emmaus set out at once to tell everyone of their encounter with Jesus Christ.

This is our task now, my brothers and sisters. This is the call of this Fifth Encentro.

So, let us answer that call. Like those disciples at Emmaus, like St. Junípero and the missionaries of America’s first encuentro.

Let us walk behind Jesus and take up our cross — following him and to bringing the people of our times to a new encounter with Jesus Christ and the mercy and love of God.  

Let us reach out especially to those who are on the “peripheries” — the homeless and the immigrant, the sick and the suffering, the child waiting to be born; the prisoner hoping for a second chance.

Let us walk together with Jesus and bring our nation and our world — to the new encounter with Jesus Christ.

¡Así que respondamos al llamado de Cristo! Como aquellos discípulos de Emaús, como San Junípero y los misioneros del primer encuentro de América. Caminemos detrás de Jesús y llevemos nuestra cruz, siguiéndolo y llevando a las personas de nuestros tiempos a un nuevo encuentro con Jesucristo y la misericordia y el amor de Dios. Alcancemos especialmente a aquellos que están en la “periferia”, los desamparados y los inmigrantes, los enfermos y los que sufren, a los niños que esperan nacer; el prisionero esperando por una segunda oportunidad.  

So, brothers and sisters, this is where the path of our lives has led us — to this Fifth Encuentro. I pray that this will truly be for all of us — a new encounter with Jesus.

I pray that God will be gracious to all of you and your families — and may his face always shine upon you and grant you peace. And may our Blessed Mother, the Virgin of Guadalupe, watch over you with her tender love.

Caminemos juntos con Jesús y llevemos a nuestra nación y a nuestro mundo al nuevo encuentro con Jesucristo. Oro para que Dios sea misericordioso con todos ustedes y sus familias, y que su rostro siempre brille sobre ustedes y les conceda paz. Y que nuestra Santísima Madre, la Virgen de Guadalupe los cuide con su amor tierno.

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