My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
So we come together tonight with a lot of joy but also with some sadness.
Our brother, Bishop Oscar, has been called to a different ministry! I was thinking that he was called up higher! So physically speaking we can say that! Because the altitude of Salt Lake City.
But it still is a ministry of service. So for that, for your appointment as the Bishop of Salt Lake City, we are very happy.
God has obviously recognized Bishop Solis’ deep love for Jesus and his people. We know he is going to be a great bishop for the family of God in the diocese of Salt Lake City.
But we are going to miss you. I am going to miss you. Big time. So I may call you once in awhile and force you to come to Los Angeles.
So we promise you tonight that you will always be in our hearts and in our prayers. And we are extremely grateful for your generous service and ministry to all of us in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Congratulations and thank you!
I was thinking that it’s very special that we celebrate this farewell Mass on the vigil of the Feast of the Presentations, 40 days after Christmas.
As you know, the celebration — this Feast day — has different names. The Presentation of the Lord, the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Candlemass, La Candelaria.
And I think it’s a special — not just it’s the day when we celebrate, have a celebration in the Latino community for those people that got the baby Jesus in the Rosca de Reyes, that would be enough to be happy.
But it is very special because in the early Church one of the first names that this feast day had was “the Encounter.” The meeting. The Feast of the Meeting. And I think that’s a beautiful name. Because it conveys a sense of surprise. Something is happening that nobody expected.
And the passage of the Gospel — the scene that we see in the passage of the Gospel today is just an ordinary scene. A mother and her husband come to the Temple to present their newborn child to God. The scene is not much different than the way parents today bring their child to the church to be baptized.
And sometimes — so many times in our different cultures, it is normal for parents to bring their newborn child to present to the Lord.
And I was thinking that — like the events of the first Christmas night, Our Lord’s Presentation in the Temple was an event that almost nobody noticed. It was not “news.” It was nothing out of the ordinary. It was something that was common for every first-born son of Jewish people.
And yet in this event, we have an “encounter,” a meeting with the living God. That is what we heard in the first reading tonight: “And suddenly there will come to the temple, the Lord whom you seek.”
Suddenly, we are surprised by Jesus! In the Child, the child Jesus, we have an encounter with the Lord!
As we all know, it’s a beautiful reality in our lives to meet Jesus. The encounter with Jesus changes the whole direction of our lives. So tonight we especially ask for the grace to renew our encounter with Christ. To give glory to God in everything we do, in everything we think.
Jesus came to us in weakness, as a little child. A child who is held in his mother’s arms. And we meet Jesus in our weakness.
Only Jesus knows better than us — our limitations, our weaknesses. And yet he calls us anyway. In his love, he calls us to follow him and to serve him and to serve our brothers and sisters.
It is true. And I think it is what happens to all of us. We have that feeling — that we are not worthy, and yet Jesus calls us anyway. And we love him too, so we want to follow and to serve him. Especially, I think, those of us who are priests and bishops feel that way.
Love for Jesus is the reason for which we all become priests. And our love for Jesus is the reason he calls us to be bishops. And that is my prayer for you, Bishop Oscar.
I pray that you will always look at Jesus with the eyes of the prophet Simeon — with that same wonder, that same amazement.
We heard his beautiful words tonight: “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”
We especially pray for you, Bishop Oscar, that you may continue to carry the light of Christ into the world and to share the warmth of God’s love. And may you continue to lead your people to find Jesus in every moment in their lives.
And one final thing that I invite all of us to reflect on this evening.
I was thinking that how Jesus made himself humble and little, how he was allowed himself to be held in his mother’s arms.
May we always try to have this same humility — to allow ourselves to be children in the arms of our Blessed Mother Mary.
As Our Blessed Mother Mary presented Jesus to God, may she help each of us to present our lives to God.
So tonight we give thanks to God for the privilege of being able to minister and serve with our brother, Bishop Oscar. We ask that God continue bless and keep you.
And we pray that you will always feel our love and the love of Our Blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady Queen of the Angels.