My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
It is indeed, as I said before, a moment of joy for all of us to gather for this beautiful celebration.
Today, we especially give thanks to St. Junípero Serra and the Franciscans who came to found this great city in the name of the Blessed Mother, the Queen of the Holy Angels.
This year our celebration is an important witness at this moment in our country, when we feel, sadly, so much division and so much racial tension.
The founding of Los Angeles reminds us that our city and our nation were founded as a Christian community. Los Angeles and America were meant to be — an encounter of cultures in Christ — from the very beginning.
The first families of Los Angeles, as we know, included Native Americans, Africans, Europeans and Asians from the Pacific Islands. And today, as well all know, the Church in Los Angeles speaks more than 40 languages.
The beautiful diversity of our local Church was something that deeply moved St. John Paul II when he visited Los Angeles 30 years ago.
In fact, as we probably remember, the anniversary of the Pope’s visit is coming up — September 15 and 16. So today let us ask his intercession as we pray for the renewal of our city.
During his Mass at Dodger Stadium, the St. John Paul II said: “The Church in Los Angeles is truly Catholic in the fullest sense, embracing people and cultures in the widest and richest variety.” 2
Personally, I have said that many times, probably you have heard me saying it over and over again, but I think we need to keep reminding ourselves: that what we see in Los Angeles is what God wants for the whole country, for the whole world — one family of God, drawn from every people, every race, every language and every country.
And at the heart of this family of God is Jesus Christ — risen and alive, calling all of us to follow him and to walk with him, to change the world with him.
The passage of the Gospel we just heard — it is a family story, the beautiful story of the wedding at Cana.
But I was reflecting on the beautiful reading that we know well, and what was striking to me today was how this story begins:
On the third day there was wedding in Cana at Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
So I was thinking: what happens at a wedding? We all have experienced that.
When a couple gets married, a family is started. The union of husband and wife — their covenant of love — marks the beginning of a family.
So what we are witnessing in this wedding feast at Cana — is the beginning of the family of God, the beginning of the Church.
Jesus is there with his Mother and with his disciples. Jesus is the Bridegroom, as he is often called in the Scriptures. The disciples are the Church, his Bride. And the Mother of Jesus — she is our mother, and she is the Mother of the Church.
And my dear brothers and sisters, we are those disciples who have been invited to the wedding supper with Jesus. You and I — each one of us — are called to respond to this invitation, this call of divine love.
Everything begins with Jesus! So we need, in a sense, we need to get back to the basics — we need get back to Jesus.
Our relationship with Jesus should be the most important thing in our lives. Knowing him, loving him, serving him.
Each one of us, today, let us ask for the grace to really get back to Jesus.
Then in the Gospel today, we hear those simple words from Our Blessed Mother Mary, which she speaks to the servants at the wedding. She says, as we remember well: “Do whatever he tells you.”
You know, those are the last words that Mary speaks in the sacred Scriptures. And these words should be the first words that define how we live. “Do whatever he tells you.”
So Mary our Blessed Mother is teaching us to be open to the Word of God — open to the beautiful things that Jesus wants to do in our lives.
So we need to listen to him. Every day we need to be engaged with his words. Every day we need to be challenged by his witness in the Gospels.
And then, at the same time, we need to talk to Jesus in prayer — just as Mary did, just like his first disciples did. We need to ask him questions, we need to tell him that we love him, we need to have a conversation with him about the things that happen to him in our daily life. We need to entrust our lives to him.
We need to seek his will — do whatever he tells you.
And all of this, our daily lives, our listening and talking to Jesus, our daily conversations with him.
And what happens in our daily lives is the “water” that Jesus is talking about in the Gospel.
In the Gospel today, after the servants filled the jars with water, he tells them: “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”
And of course, when they draw the water out, they find that it has been changed to wine! The best of wines.
My dear brothers and sisters, that is what happens when we give our lives to Jesus, when we follow his plan for our lives. This is what happens when we do whatever he tells us.
Jesus will take all our good intentions, all our little acts of love, every single little thing that we do in our lives — he will take these and he will change this “water” into “good wine” for his Kingdom.
That’s what really makes the difference in our lives.
So my dear brothers and sisters, this is what we celebrate today — the founding of the family of God here in the great city of Los Angeles.
And this what we are called to do — to listen to Jesus and do his will.
So let us rededicate ourselves today to the beautiful vision of making this city a “City of the Angels” and a “City of Saints.”
We need, especially, to increase our devotion to Mary, our Lady of the Angels, Mother of God and our Mother. She knows when we have “no wine.” She knows when we are feeling “dry” — tired and lonely, and discouraged. And she’s going to be there with each one of us, always.
May our Blessed Mother Mary help us to do our best for Jesus, to do whatever he tells us. And may he change the “water” of our everyday lives into the fine “wine” of his Kingdom!
1. Readings: Esther C: 12, 14-15, 25-30; John 2:1-11.
2. Pope John Paul II, Homily (Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, September 16, 1987).