My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
As we all heard this morning, Pope Benedict XVI announced his coming resignation on February 28th. He feels like his health is failing, so he decided to retire at the end of the month. And after that, obviously, will be the Conclave when the Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church will elect a new Pope. The Pope’s plan is to retire to the Vatican for a life of prayer.
Today is a historic day in our Catholic Church.
Pope Benedict XVI has truly been a Holy Father to the family of God, his Catholic Church. His decision to resign is a beautiful, Christ-like act of humility and love for the Church. This is the act of a saint — who thinks not about himself but only about the will of God and the good of God’s people.
I personally have great affection for Pope Benedict. In my opinion, he is one of the wisest persons in our world today. Everyday, I try to learn from his words and example. Just witnessing his ministry, reading his writings. He is a beautiful lesson for each one of us of how to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ.
I received my Archbishop’s pallium twice from Pope Benedict and I will always be grateful that he appointed me to be the Archbishop of Los Angeles.
So today, in this holy Mass, let us lift up our Holy Father in prayer. Let us thank God today for the love and witness of Pope Benedict XVI.
We also want to pray for our whole Church today in this time of transition.
The readings of the Mass that we have just heard remind us that our God is a God of love who has a plan of love for our world and for each one of us.
As our first reading reminds us, God is our Father. He is the Creator of heaven and earth. He made this world — and everything in it — out of love. He spoke his Word and through his Word, all things were created.
My brothers and sisters, God is still creating. He is still in charge of his world. Through Jesus Christ and through his Church, God is still building his Kingdom, his family on earth. Through Jesus Christ and through his Church, God still brings salvation and healing.
This is what we heard in our Gospel today. To everyone he met Jesus Christ brought healing and forgiveness. His Gospel is a Gospel of life!
So today, in this time of great transition in our Church, let us commit ourselves to the mission of the Church. Each one of us has a part to play in this mission of love.
Let us try to make God’s love real in our lives and in the lives of others. We are called, my dear brothers and sisters, to be a force for human dignity and healing and justice. We are called to make this city, our beautiful city, a city of truth and love.
Today we continue to pray in a special way today for anyone who has been hurt by a member of the Church. We continue to pray for the healing of wounds and the restoration of trust.
And as we all know, this coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Let us make this Lent a time for renewal and holiness. And we can do this by trying to live holier and simpler lives. Let us live our faith with joy and compassion and a daily desire to become more like Jesus Christ as we have witnessed in the life of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.
Today, let us especially entrust him to our Blessed Mother on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Let us pray that he will continue to have joy and peace and many more years for prayer and reflection.
1. Readings (Monday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time, Year C): Gen. 1:1-19; Ps. 104:1-2, 5-6, 10, 12, 24, 35c; Mark 6:53-56.