On Aug. 26, Archbishop Gomez delivered this homily at the annual Queen of Angels Foundation Mass, which celebrates the founding of the city of Los Angeles.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we give thanks today 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’s history, when we feel 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 the Church in Los Angeles speaks more than 40 languages.
The beautiful diversity of our local Church was something that deeply moved St. Pope John Paul II when he visited Los Angeles 30 years ago.
In fact, the anniversary of the pope’s visit is coming up — Sept. 15 and 16. So let us ask the intercession of this great saint today as we pray for the renewal of our city.
During his Mass at Dodger Stadium, the pope said these beautiful words: “The Church in Los Angeles is truly Catholic in the fullest sense, embracing people and cultures in the widest and richest variety.”
I have said it before many times, but we need to keep reminding ourselves: what we see in Los Angeles is what God wants for our whole country, for the whole world — one family of God, drawn from every people, every race, every language and every country.
At the heart of this family of God is Jesus Christ — risen and alive, calling us to follow him and to walk with him and to change the world with him.
The passage of the Gospel we just heard — it is the familiar story, the beautiful story of the wedding at Cana. But what strikes us today is how this story begins:
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana at Galilee and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
What happens at a wedding? 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, she is the Mother of the Church.
And we are those disciples who have been invited to the wedding supper with Jesus. You and I — we are called to respond to this invitation, this calling of divine love.
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: “Do whatever he tells you.”
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.”
Mary 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 allow ourselves to be challenged by his witness in the Gospels.
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 we love him. We need to entrust our lives to him. To seek his will.
All of this is the “water,” that Jesus is talking about in the Gospel.
Then, 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!
This 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 — he will take these and he will change this “water” into “good wine” for his kingdom.
We who follow Jesus are one family, united in Christ. This is what we celebrate today — the founding of the family of God here in the great city of Los Angeles.
Let us rededicate ourselves today to the beautiful vision of making this a “City of the Angels” and a “City of Saints.”
May our Blessed Mother 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” for his kingdom!