RELIGIOUS EDUCATION CONGRESS: CLOSING MASS 2015

Homily ·Lent
By Archbishop Gomez
Anaheim, California
March 15, 2015


My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1

It’s great to be together once again, isn’t it? It seems that we want to stay here for a long time. I was thinking that maybe we got the wrong Sunday. This Sunday, the Gospel of the Transfiguration would be better — we could make three tents and stay for a long time!

I hope that you’ve had a wonderful this weekend at our 2015 Religious Education Congress.

Today, we are celebrating, as you probably know, “Laetare Sunday” — the Sunday of Joy, the Sunday of rejoicing in the liturgy of the Church!

And this means that we are halfway along the path in our Lenten journey towards Easter, the journey towards our Lord’s Resurrection. So today we are filled with joyful hope as we pray for the grace to live these last weeks of Lent with deep devotion, staying close to Jesus, carrying our cross in his footsteps.

And today, we are also especially giving thanks for the witness and ministry of Sister Edith Prendergast. As you all know, this will be her final Congress as the head of our office of Religious Education. This coming month of June she is retiring after so many years of service and dedication to all of us as the director of the office. So, Sister Edith, thank you very much!

But don’t worry, she already told me that she’s coming back next Congress. That’s good.

Last night, we had a beautiful celebration of her ministry and we know that she will continue working with us and helping all of us to be better missionary disciples. And I think Sister Edith and her staff have chosen a beautiful theme for this Congress — simple but deep and beautiful: See.

Because this is the desire of every person, to see. And this is a desire that we seek to fulfill in everything we do in the Church — in evangelization, religious education, catechesis.

My dear brothers and sisters, every person wants to see. Every one is born with a restless heart that is filled with questions: What am I doing in this world? Why do I suffer, what happens when I die? How should I live? What path should I follow to find happiness? How can I be sure?

Everyone wants answers to these questions. Everyone wants to see.

It is a beautiful story and I’m sure that we all noticed, in the Gospel passage, that the blind man was not looking for Jesus but Jesus was looking for him.

God is always searching for us. God is always seeking us — in our poverty, in our loneliness and weakness. In our darkness and blindness. He’s always looking for us.

The blind man, as we heard in the passage of the Gospel, heard the Word of Jesus Christ and he believed. And he became a “new creation,” a new person because of his encounter with Jesus Christ.2

That’s what really makes the difference in our lives and in the lives in every single human person.

St. Paul tells, today in our second reading, tells us —

You were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light!

My brothers and sisters, we are now light in the Lord! And we are called to live as children of light!

So what does that mean — what does it mean to be children of light? It means that our lives have a mission — the same mission as Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the light of nations, the light of all peoples, the light of life. And Jesus is calling us to share in his mission.

This is the Church’s mission — to be a lamp that shines the light of Christ, the light of God’s tenderness and closeness and mercy. And each one of us is the Church.

You know — this image of the Church as a “lamp” was one of the favorite images of the Church for Archbishop Oscar Romero.

He’s going to be beatified on May 23rd. Yes.

Archbishop Romero is an inspiration to me in my ministry.

As we know, he was a man of humility and he journeyed with his people — walking with them in their suffering, serving them in their pain. He grew in his understanding of their troubles and the situation in the culture of El Salvador. He became as voice of love and solidarity in a time of hatred and violence.

As we know, he was martyred as he was saying Mass, 35 years ago.

Today, my dear brothers and sisters, Archbishop Romero’s life and dedication is a challenge for all of us. A life that challenges us to walk with our people and to be a light that opens their eyes and shows them the face of Jesus Christ, especially the poor and the suffering, the sick and elderly, and the immigrants.

Our brothers and sisters are suffering in our country because we still do not have a comprehensive immigration reform. And we have to be with them — we are with them — and let us continue praying for that. And let us continue working because our brothers and sisters need our love and we have to be the light of Christ to our nation.

Archbishop Romero said: “The Church knows it is God’s lamp…. The Church feels obliged to speak, to enlighten like the lamp in the night. The Church feels compelled to light up the darkness.”3

This is our mission, my brothers and sisters. The mission of the Church. We are lamps, carrying the light of Christ into the darkness of this world.

On the journey of our lives, we are walking with Jesus — side by side — sharing the light of Christ, helping others to see Jesus.

What a beautiful adventure. What a beautiful mission. What a big challenge we have! Joyful call to be missionary disciples.

And, also, we have the call as we bring the light of Christ to our people. We have the call to change this world, as Archbishop Romero did. To move the world from the darkness of injustice to the light of the Kingdom of Jesus.

So let’s keep going. Let us be enthusiastic in our mission — joyful as we have been this weekend! We have the joy of knowing Jesus is with us. We have the joy of knowing that we are working together.

We also have those little iPhones that can, you know, get the light on. We did it at the liturgies on Youth Day — my only problem is that I still have the iPhone 4, so I couldn’t do it myself. But I promised them that I would get a new phone for next year.

So let’s keep helping our neighbors to find and see the beauty of God. It is, my dear brothers and sisters, our journey — our journey of faith, hope, and love. And we are joyfully building up the Kingdom of God on Earth.

So let’s ask Mary our Blessed Mother for her intercession. Let us ask her to help us as we try to live in the light of her Son as children of light.

1. Readings (Fourth Sunday of Lent — Year A Scrutinies): 1 Sam. 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Ps. 23:1-6; Eph. 5:8-14; John 9:1-41.

2. 2 Cor. 5:17.

3. Homily (Aug. 6 1978), 88.

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