Homily ·Ordinary time
By Archbishop Gomez
University of California Los Angeles
August 03, 2019

My dear young brothers and sisters!1

Let’s keep especially in prayer those people who suffered today in El Paso and in Gilroy, Northern California. It’s a horrible tragedy so let’s keep them especially in our prayers.

So the passage of the Gospel that we just heard is interesting. Jesus tells us an interesting story, the parable of the rich fool.

The man in the parable, that Jesus is talking about, is rich, he’s a big farmer. But being rich is not what makes him a fool — there’s nothing wrong necessarily with having money or a lot of things.

Jesus, when we think about it, calls this man a fool because this man does not know what his life is for. He also calls him a fool because this man thinks that having things — accumulating wealth and possessions — is all he needs to be happy.

And as I was reflecting on this parable, I was thinking that the society in which we are seems to tell us that the only way to find happiness is having money and the things that money can buy — the right car, the right phone, good food, the best games and entertainment.

So, in a sense, the culture of our time could be summed up by those words of we hear from the rich farmer in the Gospel tonight:

Have so many good thingsrest, eat, drink, be merry!

But I think we all understand that what our culture says is a “good life” — is not really a good life at all. That is what Jesus is saying tonight:

One’s life does not consist of possessions.

Obviously Jesus knows that we need money and food, that we need a place to live and things to be comfortable. And Jesus wants us to have fun and enjoy ourselves.

But Jesus is telling us today — that what matters is not what we have. What matters is who we are in God’s eyes and who God wants us to be. In the end, my dear brothers and sisters, what matters is God.

And especially because God loves each one of us — each one of you, personally. And he loves you so much that he sent Jesus, His only son, to die for you and for me. For each one of us. That’s how very precious you are to God.

And God wants your life to be beautiful on this earth, to be filled with love and joy and holiness and hope. God wants your life to be a light that leads other people to know him and to love him!  

So this is God’s plan for you. And I hope that you keep this truth in your mind and never forget it!

Because it’s amazing, when you think about it. The Creator of the Universe loves you, personally. Each one of us. It’s unbelievable.

And I know, as we were talking about, we were listening this afternoon that that’s not easy to keep in mind all the time.

Because it’s normal for us, as we were reflecting on this afternoon, sometimes feel anxiety. To get worried about things. We worry about what people think about us, what they might say about us. We worry about the future, what is going to happen.

Those ordinary things that are part of our lives sometimes are very challenging for each one of us, as we were reflecting today. And it’s obvious to all of us.

But never be afraid. You can trust in God. God is your Father and he loves you and he wants you to do great things with your life.

So we need to listen to what Jesus is telling us in the Gospel tonight, we need to be, as Jesus says, rich in what matters to God.

And what is it that matters to God? What are the commandments?

Loving God and loving one another.

And that’s what City of Saints is all about. And that’s what Christian life is all about. And that’s what is going to make us the happiest people on earth.

As I was talking to some of you this afternoon, we were talking about ‘The Happiest Place on Earth.’ What is it? (Disneyland) You got it — which Cathedral? Our Lady of the Angels, alright! No the Crystal Cathedral, sorry about that. Christ’s Cathedral as it’s called now, but Our Lady of the Angels is much better.

So what matters to God is that we become saints. That’s what really matters to God.

And I wanted to share with you, this evening, the beautiful story of one of our newest saints. Her name is Blessed Irmã Dulce Pontes, and she was known as Sister Dulce — Sister Sweet. Pope Francis will canonize her later this year, in the month of October.

They used to call her “Sister Sweet” because she had a sweet love for the poor. She lived her whole life in one of the world’s poorest areas, Salvador de Bahia, in Brazil.

And she was a saint of our time, she died in 1992. And she was one of the many saints who visited Los Angeles — she walked these same streets that you and I walk today, she saw some of the same sights. As I always say, L.A. is a city of saints!

Sister Dulce was a wonderful religious sister, but her life was not easy. When she was very young — before she was even 10 years old — her mother died.

So Sister Dulce became like a mother to her sister and four younger brothers. And she developed a beautiful compassion for the poor, who lived everywhere in their neighborhood.

With her father’s encouragement, she began making meals for people living in the streets; she even started inviting homeless men and women into their home to sleep at night.

Then she entered the convent when she was 18 and when she was 23 she took perpetual vows as a Missionary Sister of the Immaculate Conception in Brazil.

And for nearly 60 years, she lived among the poorest of the poor — caring for the sick, helping workers, and taking care of children who had been abandoned. She served those who had nobody else.2

So Sister Dulce had a beautiful life — following Jesus and seeking the things of heaven, trusting always in God’s love and his plan for her.

And my dear brothers and sisters, that’s exactly what God wants for each one of you. Whatever your vocation is, God wants you to have a beautiful life.

But no matter where your life leads you, no matter where you find yourself — keep walking with Jesus, keep your hearts set on the things of God.

Never forget that we are the family of God. That’s what we are at City of Saints.

God is calling each one of you, each one of us to be saints — to love with all your heart and help your family and friends to know God and his mercy. We have the greatest blessing in the world — the beauty of our faith. That is really what gives meaning to our lives and really makes the difference in finding happiness no matter what.

So he’s calling all of us to make this world — not just the city, but this world — a “city of saints.” God wants to walk with all of you to really bring that happiness into the world in which we live.

He wants us to have strength and use all our gifts to serve our brothers and sisters, especially the poor. So tonight, let us especially pray to Blessed Dulce to pray for us. That she can help us to understand the beauty of our vocation — whatever it is — and the beauty of being part of the family of God and the City of Saints.

And let us especially ask Mary our Blessed Mother for her intercession. May she help us to always remember that our life is so much more than our possessions. May she help us to always know that we only bring to heaven — what we have given away in love here on earth.

1. Readings (!8th Sunday in Ordinary Time): Eccl. 1:2, 2:21-23; Ps. 90:3-6, 12-14, 17; Col. 3:1-5, 9-11; Luke 12:13-21.

2. Nathan Haverstock, Give Us This Day: The Story of Sister Dulce the Angel of Bahia (Appleton-Century, 1965).

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