My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
So what a beautiful celebration again this year!
And, as we all know, this is an exciting time here in Los Angeles and all across the country cause everybody is for Pope Francis to come to the United States this week!
It is a moment of grace for all of us. And all this expectation that we have about the Holy Father coming to our country, all the excitement we feel that he is going to come to the United States is a sign of the universal nature of the Catholic Church. It is a sign that we are one family in the Church — the family of God.
And this is exactly what we are here to celebrate today in this beautiful Mass. Today, we are celebrating, once again, the beautiful diversity of cultures and peoples and languages that make up the one family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Just look at us today! We are like that scene that we heard in the first reading this morning. Like the people in that first reading, we are one family gathered “all in one place together ... from every nation under heaven.”
This is what we see today in this our Cathedral. This is what the Church is meant to be. One family of God — filled with his Spirit — proclaiming “the mighty acts of God.”
This what God wants for creation, for humanity. This is the reason for the Church — to create and grow this one family of God, out of all the peoples of the world.
We heard the vision of God today in our Gospel, in the beautiful words of the risen Jesus Christ:
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.
And behold, I am with you until the end of the age.
This is what the Church is here for! And every Christian has a part to play in this mission of going to all the nations and telling them about Jesus.
And my dear brothers and sisters, Jesus is calling us — each one of us — today, once again to follow him. Just like those apostles in the first reading we heard this morning.
Jesus says to each one us today, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” He is calling us to be missionary disciples, to be servants of love.
Jesus is calling us to announce the love of God — yes, by using words that are gentle and spoken with understanding and compassion. He is calling us to bring people to God through our witness and our works of mercy and justice for the poor.
I wanted to share with you that this week I had the joy of being on a — what they call a — ‘Google Hangout’ with kids of Catholic schools and some of the seminarians of St. John’s Seminary. And as I was having that dialogue with the young men and women, one of them, a student of Immaculate Conception, here in downtown, asked me one question that really caught my attention.
He asked me: “Why do you love God?”
Hmm... That’s an interesting question. And my first reaction was just to say what we all believe: “I love God because I know that he loves me. He has given me everything that I have: my life, my family, my faith, my values. Everything. And I know that he is present to me, every single second of my life.”
So that’s what we are talking about. God’s love for us. And it makes sense that we try to share that with people around us.
Because just as people were in Jesus’ times, people today are looking for something to hope for, something to believe in. And, my brothers and sisters, we know — what the first apostles knew. We know the “mighty works of God.” We know that by his mighty hand God created us in his image and that he loves us with a Father’s love.
That’s what we all are so excited because Pope Francis is coming. Because Pope Francis, as we know, is the Vicar of Christ on Earth — is, in a beautiful way, God’s representative to all of us.
Also, as we all know, this week when Pope Francis comes to Washington next week he is going to canonize Father Junípero Serra, the great Franciscan and founder of California and one of the founding fathers of the United States.
And as you probably know, we just dedicated a new chapel to Father Junipero here at the Cathedral that includes a relic of Father Junipero. We are also hosting a new art exhibit in honor of our new California saint.
Father Junipero Serra will be our first Hispanic saint in the United States, and he’s a role model for all us as missionary disciples.
Everything that Father Junipero Serra did, he did for Jesus Christ— and for love of others. He wanted to bring every person to the encounter with Jesus and the awareness of God’s love and mercy. And, my brothers and sisters, this is what we are called to live. This is who we are called to be. To do all for Jesus and all for sharing his Gospel.
So let us keep praying today for the apostolic visit of Pope Francis to the United States. May his visit to our country be a time of grace and of spiritual renewal for all of us.
And let us keep working to build a world that is more peaceful, more just, more compassionate. Let us keep working to build the family of God, as Jesus wanted — a world where we recognize as our brother and sister. A world where we care, and share, and support, and serve one another.
And always remember Jesus’ promise in today’s Gospel. That he will stay close to us. That he will walk with us and be with us — until the end of the age.
And may Our Lady of Guadalupe, our Blessed Mother Mary accompany us. May she help us to stay close to Jesus as we try to carry out his beautiful mission of evangelization and growing the family of God.
1. Readings: Acts 2:1-11; Matthew 28:16-20.