My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
I am very happy that we have this Mass, the White Mass for the healthcare professionals, I guess for the first time at our Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. It is very special for us to welcome all of you to our Cathedral.
I have to say, I have a special appreciation for what you do because my father was a medical doctor. And he obviously wanted me to be a doctor. But I guess God had other plans.
But I know it is to be involved in the healthcare profession and how important it is for all of us and for the Church.
As you probably know, this week I had the privilege of meeting with our Holy Father Pope Francis in Rome.
We had some time together — I asked for an audience and he was kind enough to grant the audience to me and we spent some time together.
And I especially talked to him about all of you, about the people of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He was very very happy to hear how active everybody is — all the faithful are — in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
And it’s interesting that in our conversation, the Holy Father stressed the need for all of us to be involved in the life of our society. He said to me that we have to share the life and teaching of Jesus with our brothers and sisters. He also said that we have to alwaysbe active in having a dialogue with the people around us — in our professions, in our homes, in our neighborhood. He said that we have so much to offer. That we need to be active in really sharing with others the truths of our faith.
And I think that’s a beautiful message for our Mass today. Because the healthcare profession is one of the most important ways the Church touches our society – with the message of the Gospel of life.
So, my brothers and sisters, you are in fact, the quiet missionaries of the culture of life. Your work is so important. So essential.
In your profession, you are called to be apostles of love. In everything you do, you bear witness to God’s personal love and care for every patient and every person you meet.
And as we all know, reading the Gospels, knowing about the life of Jesus Christ, we know that the physical healings that Jesus performed were always signs of the spiritual healing and salvation he offers to every soul.
So, to you, my dear brothers and sisters, God is present to the sick. In healing people’s bodies and minds, you make it possible for their souls — the souls of the people you meet, that you deal with — for them to encounter the living God and his promise of the Resurrection.
So it makes sense that you try to unite yourselves closely to Jesus Christ. Because the Gospel of life can only succeed if you and your fellow healthcare professionals are truly committed to living your faith in Christ and serving his Gospel in everything you do. It is, as I said, so important for our society and for the Church.
And I think the readings of today’s Mass had a beautiful way of reminding all of us of how we can have that intimate relationships with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Because the readings of today’s Mass are about prayer. And prayer is the foundation of our relationship with Christ and our identity as his disciples.
What Jesus is telling us today, in his parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, is that we have to watch out for pride in our prayer. Pride is always a temptation. We all know that we can be like that Pharisee — thinking that we are “self-sufficient.” Thinking that we have all the power, all the education, the talents that we need to get things done on our own. That’s a big temptation that we all have.
It is true, God wants us to work hard. He wants us to study and gain the skills we need, and to use our talents to serve him and to serve our neighbors.
Science, the medical science is absolutely necessary in order to serve our brothers and sisters. It is a wonderful gift from God. But God also wants all of us to remember that those talents, that science is coming from him.
We have to remember that everything we have comes from God. It’s all a free gift — the gift of his divine love. He has given us our intelligence that we can use it in order to serve him and one another.
And that’s the lesson that we learn from the tax collector in Jesus’ parable today.
The tax collector talks to God with humility — from the heart. He speaks that beautiful, simple prayer:
O God, be merciful to me a sinner.
This is a prayer of total honesty and trust. My brothers and sisters, if we could just only learn to pray the little prayer everyday, we would grow so much. We would be much more open to the grace of God that God can work through us.
We would find that our hearts would be open more and more to God’s will — and to all the beautiful things that he wants to do in our lives. And all the beautiful things that he wants to do through our lives.
With that humility, we will be able to really serve our brothers and sisters — that they can see Jesus through our service.
God hears the prayer of the humble. That’s the message we heard also in our first reading today, from the Book of Sirach:
The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds …
His petition reaches the heavens.
So today, I would like to encourage all of you to make sure that there is time in your day for your prayer. Make prayer a priority everyday. It doesn’t need to be a long time. Just a few minutes. Everyday. I’m sure that you do it, but let’s today, renew our resolution to find the time today to pray everyday.
Just talk to God, from the heart. Just like the tax collector. Every single thing that happens to us in our daily life can be subject, a “theme,” for our prayer. We can talk to God about everything — our work, our projects, our fears, our hopes. Everything.
And then, if we do it with that humility, we will feel God’s strength in our lives. And that’s what’s important in the second reading of today’s Mass, that we need to trust completely in the power of the grace of God. We can do all things in Jesus Christ, who strengthens us.
And I will say, that you need to ask for the grace that through your prayer, you can see Jesus Christ in every person you serve. Again, I’m sure that that’s what you do, but today let us especially ask for that grace.
Because through the love that you extend to others, you reveal God’s love for everyone. And it is in the little things that you do everyday — smiling, listening, praying with them if you can, or praying for them, acts of love or tenderness that have a special meaning for the people that you deal with. These are the same acts of love that Jesus Christ performed and as he was dealing with the people of his time.
And let us all pray today, to really serve the Gospel of life in everything we do. Let us ask today for the grace to pray and to live with new honesty and new humility.
And let us ask Mary our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Angeles, the Mother of the Living and the Health of the Sick, to help us all to become more sensitive to what God is calling us to do in our daily work.
1. Readings (Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C): Sir. 35:12-14, 16-18; Ps. 34:2-3, 17-19, 23; 2 Tim. 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14.