My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
First of all, I wanted to share with you that these past couple of days have been very special for all of us here at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and for the Archdiocese because we were blessed to have the holy relics of four great saints for veneration here at our Cathedral.
Two saints from England — St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher — and two saints from the Americas — Blessed Oscar Romero from El Salvador, and our newest American saint, St. Junípero Serra.
As a matter of fact, this past Friday, July 1st, was the first time that we celebrated the Feast of St. Junípero Serra. He used to be, as you know, Blessed Junípero Serra, but as you know, Pope Francis canonized St. Junípero last September in Washington, D.C.
And it was beautiful because, as we reflect on our Independence Day that’s coming tomorrow, July the 4th, it was a good reminder to all of us that these faiths are giants of faith and witness to freedom. And they remind us that our nation’s first freedom has always been freedom of religion.
So, let us keep their example in mind as we celebrate the Fourth of July tomorrow. The Fourth of July is the day to give thanks to God for all the blessings that we have in our country but to keep praying for especially — for freedom and for peace, but especially for more religion in our country.
Today our readings from Sacred Scripture remind us that our Lord has a beautiful plan for every one — for our lives and for creation and for modern society. The vision of the Kingdom of God.
And I think these readings, as I was saying before, are very appropriate to this special weekend in our nation.
In the first reading of today’s Mass, from the Prophet Isaiah, we heard about this plan of God for creation.
And what we heard about what God’s love for each one of us. God our Father loves us with such a beautiful and tender love!
As the prophet Isaiah tells us today, God loves us with all the same beautiful and tender love that parents have for their babies, for their little children. God created us and he wants to take care of us. He wants to see us grow and be happy, just as parents love their children.
God is always ready to do amazing things in our lives, in your life and in mine! In the life of every person. God really has a beautiful plan for everyone. We should never forget that.
Sometimes in our society we have the temptation of thinking that we know better than God. And we have to remember that God’s plan for creation is a beautiful plan and that brings peace and joy to our society.
St. Paul, in the second reading of today’s Mass, tells us that God sent Jesus Christ to help make us “a new creation.”
And St. Paul tells us that if we accept “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” — if we accept his love and welcome the Jesus into our lives and into our hearts — then he will bring us the happiness we are looking for. Jesus will bring us “peace and mercy” that comes from God.
So this is God’s plan for us. He comes, creates us because he loves and then he sends Jesus, his Son — the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity — to bring us peace and mercy.
God wants to make us a new creation. He wants to give us a new life in Jesus Christ. Again, it is clear that the plan of God is to take care of us and to help us grow and have a beautiful life.
But the next question – we know that — so the next question is how other people will find out about God’s beautiful plan for our lives. Obviously, somebody has to tell them.
And that’s us, my brothers and sisters. This is the mission of the Church. And that’s what Jesus is talking about in the passage of the Gospel this morning.
As we heard, Jesus sent out 72 disciples — to go out into every town and to tell people the good news about the Kingdom of God and the promise of God’s love.
And the mission that Jesus gives to those 72 disciples is the same mission that he gives to every one of us.
Jesus is calling all of us to be “laborers for the harvest.” He is telling us to “go on our way” and wherever we go, he is giving us the mission to share the good news of God’s love. He is calling us to seek out those who are lost and cannot find their way, those who are looking for answers and cannot find them.
As I said, we do this in many different ways, wherever we find ourselves. We labor for the harvest in the love and service that we show in our homes and in our neighborhoods. In the places where we work.
Sometimes, we seem to think that in order to be a missionary disciple, as Pope Francis likes to say, we need to have a special vocation or a special call. Our Christian vocation is a missionary vocation, it’s up to us. We are called to bring the beauty, I insist, of the kingdom to our society.
Nothing is special — you think of the life of the apostles and they were just totally normal people — the 12 apostles most of them were fishermen or had some normal way of life, a family, just as we do.
Those 72 just went out and started talking people about Jesus and they came back, as we heard in today’s passage of the Gospel, very happy because people were happy to hear about God’s plan for the world, for peace and joy.
So in every situation of our life — when we are at home, when we are at work, when we talk to people — we have just with our daily life, in our ordinary way, to show God’s love and mercy to the people.
And it is a mission of joy and we know that God is our Father, and as we were reflecting today — God loves us and wants us to rejoice and to share in his love.
It’s interesting to me, in today’s passage of the Gospel, Jesus talks about two practical things that we are supposed to do as we bring the good news of the Gospel to the people that we deal with in our ordinary life.
"Into whatever house you enter,
first say, 'peace to this household'"
And then he says:
"Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you
cure the sick in it and say to them:
'the Kingdom of God is at hand for you'"
So this week, as we celebrate Independence Day, let us try to really respond with generosity to this call to be missionary disciples, bring peace to our families, to our places of work, wherever we are in our daily life, and then practicing the works of mercy. Instead of thinking about ourselves, thinking about our brothers and sisters that are with us and especially the ones that are in need.
So bringing peace to people and living the works of mercy, then people will rejoice because we are bringing to them God’s plan of joy and happiness for our society and our world.
So let us, this week, keep reflecting on the beauty of being missionary disciples. Of bring joy and peace to our world that is in such a need, especially for peace.
So let us pray for our country on this Independence Day. May our Blessed Mother Mary, and St. Junípero Serra, especially, founder of California, and all the saints of the America help us to respect human dignity and freedom, and especially the freedom of religion that we all can discover that beautiful plan of God for humanity, for each one of us, and for society.
1. Readings (14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C): Isa. 66:10–14c; Ps. 66:1–7, 16, 20; Gal. 6:14–18; Luke 10:1–12, 17–20.