MASS IN CELEBRATION OF CULTURES

By Archbishop Gomez
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, CA
September 17, 2016


My brothers and sisters in Christ,1

It is always beautiful to gather for this celebration of the Eucharist to celebrate our cultures. As I always say, it is a sign of the Kingdom of Heaven, a festival of the family of God.

So it is a great joy to be with all of you this morning for this beautiful celebration.

Our Holy Father Pope Francis talks about the “culture of encounter.” And this is what we have here today in this beautiful Cathedral — cultures in encounter, cultures meeting in friendship and love.

And that’s what the Church is all about — the culture of encounter is the culture of a family. It is really a new way of thinking and seeing the world. But we realize that we are all children of God, made in his image, living under the sign of his mercy.

So in this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, we have chosen for this celebration to reflect on our Lord’s great parable of mercy, the story of the Good Samaritan that we just heard.

We all know this story, we know what it means.

In the first place, my dear brothers and sisters, the story of the Good Samaritan is the story of our own lives. It is the story of the whole human race.

The human race fell victim to sin, the temptation of Adam and Eve. And all us fall victim to sin. This is what sin does — it is like being robbed. Sin robs us of the dignity that we have as God’s children, it leaves us wounded and alone, unable to continue on the path of life.

But God never leaves us in our pain, he never abandons us. He’s always with us.

In his mercy, God sends Jesus to find us — to serve us and to save us. Like the Good Samaritan, he comes to meet us where we have fallen. He comes to lift us up — and to heal us.

So when we think of this parable, the Good Samaritan, we should also think of the reality of the human person and our relationship with God.

Then in the parable, the Good Samaritan pours oil and wine over the man’s wounds. Beautiful signs for us — signs of the sacraments. The oil of forgiveness and Baptism, the new wine of the Eucharist.

And then, as I’m sure you noticed in the passage of the Gospel, the Good Samaritan lifts the man up carries him to the “inn” where he cares for him. And then he pays the innkeeper to continue taking care of him.

The “inn,” as we probably know, is the sign of the Church. Jesus entrusts all of us to the Church, to feed us and to strengthen us.

It is a beautiful reflection of how God takes us as humanity and then he lifts us up and takes care of us in the Church.

But the story of our lives does not end there.

When we feel the mercy of God, when we allow ourselves to be touched by God’s compassion, when we truly believe in his love for us — it is meant to change everything in our lives!

We have been healed and are living in the security of the “inn” — in the household of God, the Church, the family of the Church. But Jesus does not want us just to stay “inside” the Church. He calls the Church —he calls each of us to go out along the pathways of our society, our world.

Jesus is sending us out to imitate the mercy of the Good Samaritan, to follow him on the path of seeking those who are lost.

Jesus tells us that the one who treats the other with mercy is the one who truly loves. And he tells us “Go and do likewise.”

This is a mission, my dear brothers and sisters. To be missionary disciples, missionaries of mercy.

Mercy and love take us down a new path — the path of the Good Samaritan, the path of Jesus Christ who came to serve and to save. On this path, we walk with Jesus and we imitate him, loving others as he loves us.

But following Jesus means that we really do have to follow him. It means walking in his footsteps, it means doing what we see him doing.

In the Gospel, we heard that the Samaritan man was “moved with compassion at the sight.”

At the sight! He was moved with compassion just looking at the man who was hurt!

My brothers and sisters, following Jesus means looking at the world with the eyes of God, with the eyes of Christ. And when God looks at a person, what does he see? He’s not looking at how they are dressed or how they look. He is not looking at the color their skin or where they came from.

When God looks at a person, as we all know, it is the look of love. God sees only a child he has created in his own image. He sees his own son, his own daughter.

And we are called to do the same. To look into the eyes of the “other” and to see the light of the divine image, the image of God. To see a brother, a sister.

And this is our beautiful task, my dear brothers and sisters. To be missionaries of mercy, to be like the Good Samaritan, who is the image of Jesus.

Beautiful reflection on God’s plan for humanity, his love for each one of us, and our mission. So this parable of the Good Samaritan is something that we need to reflect on all the time, especially during this year — the Year of Mercy.

We just has the canonization of St. Mother Teresa, what she did is exactly what we see in today’s parable of the Good Samaritan.

So we are called to build the great family of God on earth, through the culture of encounter, as Pope Francis is asking us to do. Which is really a culture of mercy.

In the family of God we are neighbors, no longer strangers. But more than neighbors, more than just acquaintances — we are family. We are brothers and sisters.

So let us go out and spread the joy of the Gospel of mercy — in words of comfort, in gestures of love, and in works of mercy. It is our beautiful mission to be like the Good Samaritan — to be like Sister Faustina, to be like Mother Teresa.

Let us today especially ask our Blessed Mother Mary for her intercession — Our Lady of the Angels — to help us to have hearts that are open to love, and eyes that see with mercy.

1. Readings: Micah 6:6–8; Ps. 34; Luke 10:25–37.

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