My dear brothers and sisters,1
It is a joy to be with you this morning and to be with your families to celebrate National Migration Week.
The Catholic Bishops of the United States celebrate this week every year to remind us — that we are not alone, that we are all in this together.
The Church is a “family of families” — a people called together from every part of the world. All of us coming together to share our faith, our traditions, our values and our gifts. So we celebrate today with the Bishops and with our Catholic brothers and sisters everywhere across this country.
I know that these times are a challenge for many of us. God’s family always goes through times of testing. That is the point of that first reading we heard this morning.
The children of Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years! God was walking with them, he was leading his people. But it was never easy. In fact, some days it was really hard for them.
It is the same today. We are a nation of immigrants, that’s true! But immigration to this country has never been easy. We come to this beautiful country — many at great personal sacrifice. And we all come with dreams of building a better life.
But immigrants have always faced resentment and backlash. Think about the Irish, the Italians, the Polish, the Japanese. It is no different with the today’s immigrants.
I know it gets frustrating, sometimes we get afraid — because we don’t know the future, we don’t know what’s going to happen.
But when times get hard, we have to be careful not to let our hearts get hard, too. That’s the message that we hear today in the Word of God. “Harden not your hearts!” Never give in to the temptation to anger, to be bitter.
My brothers and sisters, Always trust God! Always! Never, never give up on him! Because he is never, never going to give up on you. God goes with us. Jesus goes with us! The Holy Family goes with us!
We remember the Posada, right? Mary and Joseph were looking for a place to stay — and nobody would take them in, nobody welcomed them. But God was with them, and Mary and Joseph were strong and trusted him — and they brought the Child Jesus into this world.
There is a beautiful line in that first reading this morning: “Encourage yourselves daily while it is still ‘today.’” We need to have solidarity in our communities.
We need to stand together, in the Church, with the Church. We are one family of God! And when one of us is hurting, the rest of us need to offer a helping hand. To show love, compassion and healing.
In our Gospel passage today, Our Lord is moved with pity by the leper who comes to him. He stretches out his hand, he touches the leper and Our Lord speaks to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.”
We are like that leper. We are outcast, we are on the margins. And yet this is how much Jesus loves us, this is how much our Blessed Mother loves us, Our Lady Guadalupe.
If you notice, Jesus always makes contact with people, he always looks on them with love and he wants to touch them and speak personally to them. We need to have that same kind of tenderness and care for one another.
My brothers and sisters, in this Mass we are going to hear a message from Pope Francis himself — a message of hope that Our Holy Father is sending because he wants us to hear it. So this is really a special day.
So keep encouraging yourselves and let us keep the faith strong in our families. Let us be a good example for our country. Let us reach out to the people in our communities.
Let us open our arms to welcome every one, let us find room for everyone. Let us keep praying and working for immigration reform in our country!
Never forget, my brothers and sisters: Jesus loves you, and our Blessed Mother loves you, — and the whole Church loves you!
¡Que Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!
¡Que viva San Juan Diego!
¡Que viva San Junípero Serra!
¡Que viva Cristo Rey!
1. Readings (Thursday, First Week in Ordinary Time, Year A): Heb. 3:7–14; Mark 1:40–45.