My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Today we are celebrating in a special way, the life and witness of our religious jubilarians.
My dear jubilarians, first of all congratulations on your jubilee! You are in our prayers in a special way. And I want to really share the beauty of what your vocation is all about. You are a treasure of the Church. Your faith and your faithfulness inspire me — and all of us. I know I speak for the whole family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles when I say, “Thank you.”
Consecrated life is a special “way” of love in the Church. It is a special way of following Jesus and living out God’s will. It is a sign of the radical pathways to new life — the beautiful possibilities that open up when we say “yes” to Jesus Christ.
So, again, dear jubilarians, you are in our prayers. And please let us all keep praying for the Church. Let us pray that all of us will say “yes” to Jesus Christ, “yes” to pursuing holiness, “yes” to living for the love of God and the love of our neighbors.
So, all of us in the Church are made for worship, made to live our lives according to the Word of God. This is who we are as people of God. And that’s exactly the lesson of the readings in today’s sacred liturgy.
I’m sure you noticed that our first reading from the Book of Nehemiah, presents us with a scene that looks a lot like what we are doing here today.
As we heard, all the people of God were all assembled and the scribe Ezra was standing before them, reading from the Book of the Law of God.
As we all know, that’s what we do in every celebration of the Mass. We come to hear the Word of God, we come to open our hearts to his Word, to hear what God wants to say to us. And we discover the meaning of our lives, our true purpose in the world, in light of the Word that God speaks to us, his call to us.
But, as we also know, God does not only want to speak to us in the pages of the sacred text. God comes to speak to us personally through his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
And that’s what we hear in today’s Gospel.
In the passage of the Gospel — beautiful passage of the Gospel that we all know — Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth where he grew up. And as he always does, he goes to the synagogue on the Sabbath day.
I was thinking that it is interesting to think about this: Jesus used to go the synagogue every week to listen to the Word of God. Just like we all do. Every Catholic is supposed to go to Mass every Sunday. Interesting, isn’t it?
So, on this day, as we heard about in our Gospel passage, Jesus reads a beautiful selection from the book of the prophet Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord
Then, as we heard, Jesus tells the people: Today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.
He says amazing! He is saying that he is the Word of God come in the flesh.
And, as we know, in every celebration of the Mass, Jesus comes to us — not only in his Word, but also in his Body and Blood, his Soul and Divinity, in the Holy Eucharist. Jesus comes to give himself to us, to become our food. He comes to join our lives to his.
It’s amazing when we think about it!
So, I was thinking that we what we need to, first of all, is ask ourselves if we are listening? What is Jesus saying to us, here and now? Today as we celebrate this beautiful moment of the lives of the jubilarians — what is it that Jesus is telling me? How am I responding to what Jesus is asking me to do?
That’s what is so important — to always, as we read the Gospel as we come to celebration of Mass — to be aware of the presence of God in those extraordinary moments in our lives.
It’s also very interesting that in today’s Gospel the people in the Synagogue could not keep their eyes of Jesus. This is the way we need to read the Gospels. This is the way that we should participate in the celebration of Holy mass — always feeling that loving presence of Jesus in our lives.
We need to be looking closely at Jesus. We need to reflect on his life. I’m sure that you all do it! But this is a great opportunity — as we reflect on this beautiful passage of the Gospel, and this celebration of the jubilarians especially — to as for that grace.
But then, as we do that, we also have to remember that Jesus is calling us to share the glad tiding of God. The good news of his love. We are called to open the eyes of our neighbors so they can see God’s love and purpose in the world, his loving design for their lives. We are called to set people free from the prisons that they make for themselves, all the habits and attachments that keep them from giving their lives to God.
This is our mission!
So, it is a beautiful moment as we come together to feel the presence of God in our lives, especially through the beautiful testimony of our jubilarians.
So dear jubilarians, thank you again, for leading by your example, for showing us our mission through your witness of a life totally consecrated to God.
Let’s keep praying for the Church. Let’s keep praying that all Catholics, all of us — the whole world for that purpose — that we all open our hearts to the Word of God who comes to us in the Scriptures and in the bread and wine at the altar.
Let us pray that we may live the Word we hear and follow Jesus wherever he needs us.
So let’s ask Mary Our Blessed Mother for her intercession, that God may send us many more holy vocations to the religious and consecrated life.
1. Readings (Third Sunday in Ordinary Time): Neh. 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10; Ps. 19:8-10, 15; 1 Cor. 12:12-30; Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21.