My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
As I said, I am very happy to be with you all for this special celebration. This White Mass is a wonderful celebration of God’s love and who we are as Catholic people.
Yesterday, I had the joy of celebrating Mass for one of our religious communities — the Servants of Mary, Ministers to the Sick. Some of the sisters are here with us in the back of the Cathedral. They are good Catholics, so they are in the back. That was a joke! I have to be careful what I say.
These sisters were founded by St. Maria Soledad Torres Acosta and probably most of you know the sisters. They’re wonderful. They have communities all over the world and they have been here in Los Angeles since 1928. Yesterday was the feast day of St. Maria Soledad so we had a special Mass to celebrate that beautiful feast day. This year, the sisters are celebrating the centennial of ministry in the United States. They are nurses and ministers who care for sick people, especially in their homes.
And I was thinking after the celebration of Mass and meeting with them, as I was getting ready for this Mass — that it is really true that compassion and mercy have always been the “way” for the Church.
Jesus has entrusted his Church with the Gospel of life, the good news of God’s Kingdom. His salvation, his mercy and his healing love.
Jesus wants to be present, to be close to anyone who is afflicted and sick. And Jesus draws near to these people in need — through us.
In that beautiful second reading that we just heard, St. Paul says: My God will fully supply whatever you need.
And God will! It is true! But God wants to work through us. He shows his merciful presence, his care for every person — through our humble acts of service and love.
This is why your work in the healthcare profession is so important.
You have a noble calling, my brothers and sisters. In your work, you are representatives of Jesus. Signs of his compassion, apostles of his love. You are the healing presence ofGod in our world. In what you do to bring care and comfort and healing, you are a sign of the Kingdom that Jesus came to bring.
In the first reading of today’s Mass, we see God’s vision for his Kingdom.
The prophet Isaiah tells us of a beautiful world — the world as God wants it to be. The world that God wants all of us to share.
God’s Kingdom is endless days of joy with no more death, no more suffering. This is what God wanted since the creation of the world.
And all of us, no matter what our profession or our station in life — all of us, we are all called to do our part to move our world a little closer to the Kingdom that God wants to come.
And everything begins in compassion. We enter the Kingdom of God by way of compassion, through the grace of God and our works of love.
And that’s what Jesus is talking about in the Gospel passage that we just heard.
Jesus is using this parable to teach us about the Kingdom of God. So the “wedding feast” that he talks about is a symbol of God’s Kingdom. And the “wedding garment” is a symbol of what we need to enter the Kingdom.
Jesus is telling us that we must clothe ourselves in works of charity and compassion — this is the wedding garment that he is talking about in today’s Gospel.
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is telling us all the time that our culture is becoming a“throwaway culture.” He is telling us that we are becoming a culture that does not reallyvalue human life. A culture of indifference.
And he tells us that the sick and disabled and the elderly — they are all a part of this“throwaway culture.”
So, my brothers and sisters, we need to change this culture! We need to proclaim God’s Kingdom. We need to create this culture of compassion, of mercy and care and concern.
And the Kingdom, this new culture, begins with us. With each one of us. It really begins with our personal works of compassion and love. God wants all of us to be the instruments of his mercy in this world.
That’s our challenge and that’s our mission. It is an exciting mission!
Because we are called, really, to change the world. To help people understand God’s presence and love for each one of them. Because no one in our society, in God’s plan, should be left to suffer alone! No one should be sick without someone to comfort them and try to ease their pain!
That’s what our faith is all about! That’s what the Catholic Church is all about!
We need to open our hearts and reach out our hands. We need to go out and really show people with our compassion and love that God really loves them! We need to really care for our brothers and sisters in a real way — not just with nice words.
This is the beautiful mission of health care and it is the duty of every Christian. Charity and mercy are the new ways of the new evangelization.
Through our work of love, our works of mercy, we proclaim that Jesus is risen today and alive among us!
Jesus told us that he would be present in the person of those who are sick and suffering: "I was sick and you cared for me."2 And he told us — that the love that we show to the sick and the suffering is the love that we show to him.
Again, we have a beautiful call, a beautiful mission. We are living in an exciting timebecause we have the possibility with our daily life to bring alive the life and teachingsof our Lord Jesus Christ for our brothers and sisters.
So today I personally want to thank you for everything that you do for our brothers and sisters in the Los Angeles. All of you — doctors and nurses, administrators — everyone involved in the beautiful mission of healthcare. You are, in a special way, the new evangelization — instruments of the new evangelization.
Thank you for you service, and thank you for your example of love. I pray that in yourwork, you always remember that Jesus is present — truly present — in the flesh of thepoor, in those who are suffering, in those who are old and ill, those who have disabilities.
And I ask for each one of you — the blessings and maternal protection of our Blessed Mother Mary, Health of the Sick. May she guide you in your work of mercy and healing.
And may she help all of us to make a beautiful garment of our lives — a garment of love and compassion for every person.
1. Readings (Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A): Isa. 25:6-10a; Ps. 23:1-6; Phil. 4:12-14, 19-20; Matt. 22:1-14.
2. Matt. 25:31-46.