My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Today is a very special day for the universal Church as I said before. It is a day of rejoicing!
Because earlier this morning in Rome, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI added John Paul’s name to the roll of the Blesseds of the Catholic Church.
He celebrated the Beatification Mass for Pope John Paul II, now he is, as I said, Blessed John Paul II.
In his homily this morning, our Holy Father said this:
“John Paul II is blessed because of his faith, a strong, generous and apostolic faith. ... By his witness of faith, love and apostolic courage, accompanied by great human charisma, this exemplary son of Poland helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to be called Christian, to belong to the Church, to speak of the Gospel.”
And I especially greet this morning my brother and sisters from the Polish community of the Archdiocese. This is a special day the Lord has made for you, my brothers and sisters! I pray that you will strive always for the holiness of your blessed countryman, Karol Józef Wojtyla of the Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Wadowice in Poland. Congratulations!
Blessed John Paul was a gift of God for our time.
He was a poet, a philosopher, and most importantly, a priest. He was a true spiritual father for our world and our time. And above all, he was a man of the Eucharist.
He once said: “Holy Mass is the absolute center of my life and of every day of my life.”2
So as we celebrate this Holy Mass this morning, we give thanks to God for sending us this great apostle, this great witness to the resurrection!
Blessed John Paul wanted us to live with the same joy and intensity as the first Christians, whose experience we heard described in today’s first reading.
He wanted us to live as they did — holding fast to the apostles’ teaching, in communion with Jesus Christ and his Church; centered on the breaking of the bread and prayer.
He wanted us to live as they did — with glad and generous hearts, giving to those in need, bringing others the good news of salvation; and in everything giving praise to the name of God.
So Blessed John Paul called us to holiness. All of us. To love and imitate Jesus Christ. To open our hearts to love God and our neighbors. To accept the vocation given to us in baptism. And he called us to join him in building a civilization of love and a culture of life. He called us to live the new life that we celebrate every year in the Easter season.
So today we pray that his beatification will be a beautiful grace for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, for our nation, and for all the nations of the Americas and for the whole world!
I know that we all have personal recollections or experiences in how we received the message of the Holy Father, or Blessed John Paul. I personally had the blessing of being ordained a priest before his election as the new Pope in 1978.
The Holy Father also, Pope John Paul II called me to be a Bishop in 2001 and then an Archbishop in 2005. And I think that the fact that we are celebrating this Mass, the fact that his Beatification was today, is a special blessing for me as I start my ministry in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
We all remember the challenging words he spoke from the window of the apartment in St. Peter’s Square on that day, on the day of his election: “Be not afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power!”
He addressed those words to the entire human family, and to each one of us personally. To address the needs and the troubled questions that we hold in our hearts.
But my brothers and sisters, these, “Do not be afraid! Be not afraid!” These are Easter words.
These are the first words that Jesus Christ spoke to his disciples when he met them on their way back from the empty tomb. “Be not afraid!”3
This is the promise of the resurrection! The promise of our redemption!
St. Peter tells us in today’s second reading that we have been born anew by God’s great mercy!
So, my brothers and sisters: What is there for us to fear — know that death itself has been conquered? Knowing that we have been made heirs of eternal life?4
This is the good news of the Resurrection! This is the good news of the Easter season!
And this is also the good news that Blessed John Paul came to proclaim to the men and women of our time.
Be not afraid. Blessed John Paul told us over and over again: “The power of Christ’s cross and resurrection is greater than any evil which man could or should fear.”5
So today need to renew our trust in Jesus Christ and his power, my brothers and sisters!
Because God’s mercy endures forever! That is the message of his cross and resurrection!
No doubt that it is significant that Pope John Paul is being beatified — was beatified today — on the Sunday following Easter.
We are all know that in the year of the great jubilee 2000, he instituted the custom of calling this “Divine Mercy Sunday,” influenced by the teachings of St. Faustina Kowalska. And we all know, that John Paul II died on April 2, 2005, the night before Mercy Sunday.
So Blessed John Paul was an apostle of divine mercy. He told us again and again that our God is a Father of tender mercies.6
So let’s keep it in mind today. And as we rejoice in the beatification of John Paul II, let us also feel once again the beauty of God’s love and mercy for each one of us.
It is good also if in these coming days, we recall the vision and mission that Blessed John Paul set before our local Church during his visit to Los Angeles in 1987.
These past days I have been reading the homilies and addresses of John Paul to the people of Los Angeles. It’s a beautiful message. He told us that our Church — our local Church — is called to be an icon of what God intends his Church to be — a Church of many colors, families, races and languages, all united as one family of God.
So I pray that Blessed John Paul’s beatification will be a source of inner renewal for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, as we look forward to 2012 — the 25th anniversary of historic visit to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
So in thanksgiving for his beatification, let us rededicate ourselves this morning to live out this vision and mission that he gave us for our local Church.
Let us commit ourselves to a new evangelization of our city and our culture. Let us build the culture of life and a city of charity and truth.
As you all remember, Blessed John Paul said Mass at Dodger Stadium in 1987. At the end of his homily, he made a special act of entrusting our city and nation to our Blessed Mother.
So today let us renew that act of trust in Mary this morning. Let us entrust to her all these resolutions we make today to follow her Son with new devotion. May this city named in honor of Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles, be a place where men and women strive with new purpose for holiness.
And may she help us to follow Blessed John Paul in this great adventure of Christian living, as we seek the purposes of her Son for our lives and for our world.
1. Readings, Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday: Acts 2:42–47; Ps. 118:2–4, 13– 14, 22–24; 1 Pet. 1:3–9; John 20:19–31.
2. Address to Symposium on 30th Anniversary of Second Vatican Council’s Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis (October 27, 1995).
3. Matt. 28:10; compare Luke 24:36–38.
4. See Rom. 6:23; Jude 1:21; Tit. 3:7.
5. Crossing the Threshold of Hope (Knopf, 1994), 219.
6. 2 Cor. 1:3.