My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
It is so good to be home! I’ve been out, as you know, for three weeks in Rome for the Synod of Bishops.
I wanted to share with you that the Synod was an amazing experience for me. There were almost three hundred of my brother bishops there from around the world. We spent our days together in meetings and in conversations. We celebrated Mass and prayed together with our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.
It was beautiful because in most of our meetings the Holy Father was present. And he was listening and spending time with us, with the bishops from all over the world. I was especially grateful to him for his invitation to me to be present at the Synod, representing all of you, the faithful of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The Synod was a time of prayer and a time of reflection. And it was a time for us to do some serious thinking about the Church’s mission and about the meaning of our Christian lives in our modern world.
Our basic conclusion was that the world needs a new evangelization!
That’s precisely what I suggested in my pastoral letter that was published on October 11, at the beginning of the Year of Faith.
Because, my brothers and sisters, we know the reality in our country and in our world. Many people have heard about Jesus Christ already. But many of them have allowed their love for God to grow cold. A lot of people are just indifferent about religion now.
We all know people like this — our neighbors sometimes, sadly even sometimes people in our own families. Many people have drifted away from Jesus Christ. They don’t go to church anymore.
We need to bring these people back. We need to tell them the “good news” again. We need to win their hearts for Jesus.
That’s what the new evangelization is all about, my dear brothers and sisters!
Evangelization is about loving God and sharing the love of God that we know with the people we meet — in our homes, in the places where we work. Not just in the words we say, but by the whole way we live. By our actions. By our attitudes and intentions.
And that’s very interesting because that’s exactly what the readings for today’s Mass are all about. And that’s what today’s readings in this Holy Mass are about. The commandment of love.
In our first reading, we heard Moses command:
You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your strength.
In the Gospel today, Jesus quotes these same beautiful words. But he adds a new commandment. He says:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
My brothers and sisters, this is the whole meaning of life. In these two commandments —to love God and to love our neighbor — is summarized the whole Law. Love alone brings us happiness and salvation.
That’s exactly the message that Jesus wants us to bring to the world. The message of salvation. The new evangelization comes through the way of love.
Isn’t it true that the people we meet every day are like the scribe who comes to Jesus today in the Gospel. Like this scribe, sometimes people around us have questions and troubles. They want to know what is true. They want to know what is the right path for them to follow to find real happiness in their lives.
Did you notice in the passage of the Gospel, how Jesus treats the scribe in such a beautiful way, with affection and love?
This is the way Jesus is with everyone. This is the way — as we have experienced personally — this is the way that Jesus is with each one of us. He deals in the same way with everybody. He wants us — and everyone — to come to him with our cares and worries. He wants us to ask him which is the way to go. How are we going to find this joy and happiness.
This is especially interesting because in Jesus’ time the scribes were the experts in the Law of God. And they made themselves Jesus’ mortal enemies. All throughout the Gospels, they are always trying to trap him and trick him — to find some reason to get him arrested and killed.
But Jesus was extremely kind to this scribe who comes to ask him this question. He seemed to be a very sincere person. He is really looking for answers. He wants to know which is the greatest of the commandments. What he is really asking is — what is the right way to live? What is the way for his whole life?
And when Jesus tells him about the way of love, the man is moved by faith. We heard his response: Well said, Teacher. You are right.
Then Jesus tells the scribe, with great love, that he is not far from the Kingdom of God. Because we enter the Kingdom of God by faith. By faith in Jesus and his words. We enter the Kingdom of God by following Jesus in his way of love.
So this week, my brothers and sisters, let’s try to go to Jesus like that scribe did.
The second reading from today’s Mass, which we just heard, from the Letter to the Hebrews, tells us that Jesus lives forever in heaven to make intercession for us. That means he is always by our side. We can talk to him in prayer. We can ask him for guidance and grace.
So let’s ask him this week to teach us how to grow in our love of God and our love of neighbor. We can very simply ask him many times during the day: “Lord Jesus teach me how to love you better and how to love the people in my life.”
That simple prayer can really help us every day to center our lives in the love of God and to make that love a reality in our love for the people around us. And this love can also make a reality the new evangelization.
This week is a special week for our country. We have a very important civic moment — the presidential election. And our participation, as we know my brothers and sisters, is very, very important.
We have to make sure that our participation and our contribution always reflect the moral and religious values that we find in the Scriptures and in the teachings of our Church.
And that is, practically speaking, loving God and loving one another.
So as we enter these final days of what has been an intense election season, let’s pray for one another and our country. We give our country our best as citizens when we are trying to be totally faithful to the teachings of Christ and his Church.
Let’s keep asking Jesus: “Teach me how to love you better and how to love the people in my life.”
And let’s go also to Mary, our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of the Angels. Let’s ask her to show us the way of love — just as she taught her Son Jesus how to love by her word and her example.
1. Readings (Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B): Deut. 6:2-6; Ps. 18:2-4, 47, 51; Heb. 7:23-28; Mark 12:28b-34.