RELIGIOUS EDUCATION CONGRESS: YOUTH DAY MASS 2012

Homily ·Lent
By Archbishop Gomez
Anaheim, California
March 22, 2012


My young brothers and sisters in Christ,1

This is so great that we can be together today to celebrate this Holy Eucharist!

This is what it’s all about, isn’t it? This is what every one of us is born for. To love God and to know his love in our lives. To serve God by loving our neighbors and seeking to build his Kingdom on earth. It’s a beautiful life that Jesus Christ gives us!

That’s what we’re celebrating in this Eucharist — and every Eucharist. So this is a great day of grace.

We just heard a long passage from the Gospel of St. John.

It’s a good reading for us, because it consists entirely of the words of Jesus. It’s like we are right there, standing in that crowd in Jerusalem, watching him, listening to what he’s saying.

And his words today are challenging us.

Jesus is saying to us: “When you read the Gospels, you see me accomplishing great works — healing the sick, giving eyesight to the blind, driving out demons.”

He’s saying to us: “You’ve seen these works and heard my words. Now it’s time for you to decide. Am I for real? Am I really who I say I am?”

It’s a big question. In fact, I would say it’s the most important question that any of us will ever have to answer. Because how we answer is going to determine how we are going to live. The commitments and choices we make; our friendships. It’s going to determine what happens to us in this life and for all eternity.

As we see from this Gospel, a lot of people back in Jesus’ time didn’t believe he was for real. A lot of people today still don’t. We all know some people like that.

Back then and still today, a lot of people think Jesus’ miracles were just something his followers made up after he was gone. A lot of people think he might’ve been some kind of holy man or wise philosopher, but nothing more than that.

But you and I, my brothers and sisters — we believe that Jesus is someone much greater. That’s why we’re here today to worship him.

Jesus tells us today in the Gospel: “You have never heard his voice nor seen his form.” And that’s true. No one ever did see God or hear his voice — until Jesus came. And that’s exactly why he came.

Jesus came to show us the face of God. He came to speak to us with the voice of God. And he came to show each one of us who we are meant to be. The Son of God came to us as child of Mary — so that each of us can live as a child of God.

Every life now is a calling from God. Your life. My life. Jesus is calling to each one of us: “Follow me.”

So we have to say “yes” to Jesus. We have to follow him if we want to find our true happiness. We have to follow him if we want to know the meaning of our lives.

I know Jesus is calling some of you to the great adventure of his priesthood. He is calling some of you to religious or consecrated life. He’s calling many of you to the vocation of marriage and to serve him in the world as laymen and laywomen.

Maybe you will find yourself in business or politics or science or medicine or teaching or raising children or serving in your community. Wherever you find yourself, Jesus is calling you to make a difference with your lives. Jesus is calling you to do your part so that his Kingdom may come and his will may be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

So how do you do that? How do you live the life Jesus wants you to live? Let me suggest a few practical ideas.

First, you need a good prayer life. Prayer isn’t hard. It’s just talking to Jesus. Turn your days into an interior dialogue, a long conversation with him. He is your friend. Tell him what’s on your heart.

Try to spend a little time alone and being quiet every day. Unplug. Just so you can listen for his Voice. Try to settle your mind and just listen in your heart. If you can do this in front of the Blessed Sacrament, that’s the best!

Also, try to read a passage from the Gospels every day. It doesn’t have to be long, just enough so that you keep learning every day from Jesus’ words and his example.

And go to Jesus all the time in the sacraments. Get to Mass as often as you can during the week and go to Confession regularly. That’s why Jesus gave us his Church. So we would never be without him. In his Church, Jesus is with us always — teaching us, feeding us, forgiving us, calling us.

Finally, when you are working, whether it’s at a job or studying or doing things at home — do it all with the intention of serving God and your neighbors. Do everything for God, with a glad heart and a generous spirit.

One more thing: Get to know the lives of the saints. The saints are our big brothers and big sisters in the spiritual family of God. They show us how living this Christian life is not only possible, it’s also beautiful.

Do you know the story of Kateri Tekakwitha? In October she’s going to be canonized as our first Native American saint. She lived in New York, near Albany, in the 1600s. Her mother was a Christian Indian woman named Meadow who had been stolen from her tribe and forced to marry a Mohawk Chief, Great Beaver.

When Kateri was little, the small pox disease struck and killed both her mother and her father, the Chief. The disease left Kateri with scars on her face and made her eyes so weak she could never come out in the sunlight unless she covered her head with a blanket. That’s why they called her Tekakwitha, which means “she who stretches out her hands” to keep from falling down.

At 18, Kateri heard the call of Jesus and was baptized by a Jesuit missionary. That angered many people in her tribe, and they persecuted her. They treated her like a slave and told lies about her, trying to ruin her reputation.

It got so bad that one night she ran away. She made a dangerous journey to a Christian settlement 300 miles away in Montreal. It took her two months going by canoe and through the woods. For a while her uncle’s warriors were hunting her down.

Kateri only lived to be 24. But she lived a holy life of service to others. Despite her limitations, she changed the lives of people she met in little ways. Her holiness and joy attracted others to God. That’s what Jesus wants every one of us to do with our lives!

Kateri had a great motto. She used to say: “Who will teach me what is most agreeable to God, that I may do it?”2

Let’s make that our prayer today, my young brothers and sisters. Let’s ask Jesus to teach us what’s most agreeable to God, and give us the strength and courage to do it.

And let’s ask Our Blessed Mother Mary to help us to entrust our lives to her Son and his beautiful calling for our lives!

1. Readings (Thursday, Fourth Week of Lent, Year B): Exod. 32:7-16; Ps 106:19-23; John 5:31-47. 

2. Bechard, Kaitanoron kateri Tekakwitha (Kateri Center, 1994), 124.

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