[Editor’s note: The Archbishop’s column this week is adapted from his homily at the Ordinations of Msgr. Joseph V. Brennan, Msgr. David G. O’Connell, and Father Robert E. Barron as Auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, delivered Sept. 8 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.]
Today we give thanks because Pope Francis has given us these three fine men to be Auxiliary Bishops for the family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Our Holy Father has said that there are three basic qualities that we should look for in a bishop, as the famous expression indicates: “If he is holy, let him pray for us. If he is learned, let him teach us. And if he is prudent, let him govern us.”
So today we rejoice! Because we will ordain three fine priests — chosen because they are men of prayer, intelligence and prudence.
My dear bishop-elects, the Lord has spoken your name. Today by the power of his Spirit, he will anoint you to be successors of the Apostles and pastors of souls — to teach, sanctify and nourish the family of God.
The words of Jesus that we heard in the Gospel today were first addressed to his Apostles. Now they are addressed to you:
You are the salt of the earth …You are the light of the world …
Just so, your light must shine before others,that they may see your good deedsand glorify your heavenly Father.
Brothers, “You are the salt of the earth.” Always remember where you come from. Never think that being a bishop makes you better, or puts you “above” anybody else.
To be a bishop is a privilege of service. It is not a privilege of status or position.
You are called to carry the Cross of Christ and be witnesses to his Resurrection. You are called to give your life as a gift for others, just as Christ did. To sacrifice and “die to self” — so that others may have life.
St. Peter says in the second reading today: “Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock.”
That’s good advice. It comes from the first bishop of Rome, the first Pope. As bishops, you are servants of hope. And you always serve best by your own example.
So stay close to your people — especially the poor and the little ones, the vulnerable and the weak. Have a special care for families, young people, and the elderly. Know your people’s joys and hopes and worries. Speak to their hearts and fill them with hope.
“Salt of the earth” means that you are called to add a spiritual and supernatural “flavor” to the ordinary realities of people’s daily lives.
By your example, teach them the joy that comes in knowing God’s love and his plan for creation and history. Call them to taste and see the goodness of God — and the heavenly gift that he offers us in the Eucharist and the Sacraments.
My brothers, you are “the light of the world.” Like the prophet Isaiah in today’s first reading, today you are being anointed and sent out into this world.
Brothers, when people come to you — they will be looking for a friend, for a brother, and for a father. But more than anything, people will be looking for you to show them the face of God.
Mercy is the face of God. So mercy must be the way of your ministry as bishops.
The mission of the bishop depends on his radical imitation of Christ! Because in the face of Jesus, we see the merciful face of the Father. The more you imitate Jesus, the more you try to become like him — the more you will be the living image of God to your people.
So let your light shine in the world, my brothers!
But always remember that the light you hold is not your own. Your mission is to radiate and reflect the light of Christ — and to lead others into this light.
Let me offer one final note.
It is so beautiful that you are being ordained on this day, which the Church remembers as the birthday of the Virgin Mary, our Blessed Mother.
The spiritual fatherhood of the bishop depends on the spiritual motherhood of Mary. So intensify and deepen your love for Mary, my brothers.
My brothers and sisters, let us join our hearts in praying for our new bishops — and this new beginning for the family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
And may our Blessed Mother Mary, the Queen of the Angels and the Queen of Apostles, continue to walk with us in our journey to holiness and hope.