What would the Kingdom of God look like on earth? To find one word — it would be a city of love and truth.
It would be a world where people lived for the love of God and loved their neighbors as God loves us.
It is beautiful to imagine what the world would be like, even for just for one day. People living for God and loving one another — with patience, kindness and forgiveness — seeking justice and what God wants in all things.
The city of love and truth is not a dream. It is what we are working for every day in our homes and parishes and in all our various ministries.
Jesus intends his Catholic Church to be a sign of the Kingdom he came to build on earth.
The Church is called to be a community of love in the service of love. By our work to open our neighbors’ hearts and stir their consciences, by the example of our love for our fellow believers — we show others the way to the city of love and truth.
The Acts of the Apostles gives us a beautiful picture of how the first followers of Jesus lived: “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles … to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. … All who believed … had all things in common; they would … divide them among all according to one’s need.
From those first days, the Church has always been one family of God — devoted to proclaiming Christ’s teachings, gathered around the Eucharist (“the breaking of the bread”), and sharing what we have with one another.
Our Together in Mission program is a beautiful expression of this original Christian tradition of love and mutual care.
Since 1993, your generous contributions to Together in Mission have provided more than $300 million to our poorest parishes and schools.
There is no other program like Together in Mission in this country. We are the only local Church that gives all of its annual appeal monies to our neediest brothers and sisters. And the 37 parishes and 56 schools that receive these monies could not continue without our help.
This weekend, Feb. 15-16, we begin this year’s Together in Mission campaign in all our parishes. I ask you to please give generously and with love to our brothers and sisters who have less.
The money you share is not given simply to “institutions” — to parishes or schools. What you give is not for their gain. Our Catholic institutions don’t exist for their own sake. Our parishes and schools exist to proclaim the Gospel of love and carry out the Church’s service of love.
With the money you give, these parishes and schools are serving the neediest families in our communities. Your Together in Mission contributions go to children who have nowhere else to turn.
This year, Together in Mission will be providing support to more than 38,000 families and 11,000 students.
You can hear stories about the difference that Together in Mission makes in a new on-line video we have created. I was struck by the testimony of our principals:
“Our kids walk through gang neighborhoods and past neighborhoods with bullet holes. Our children go home at night and might not have dinner. But … we provide safety that every child deserves; we provide meals every child deserves. None of our families can realistically make the tuition. … Without Together in Mission we truly would not be able to keep our doors open.”
I urge all of you to watch this new video. It is a powerful tribute to what you are doing through your generous support for Together in Mission. It’s available on our new Together in Mission website: www.OurMissionLA.org.
Jesus himself commands us to love our neighbors. But he can only command us to love because he has loved us first. Our love is always a response to the gift of God’s love given to us in Jesus.
The love that Jesus commands is not abstract. The love he commands requires us to make practical decisions and concrete commitments.
Giving to Together in Mission is one commitment we can make to respond to God’s love in our lives.
What we give in turn is given to others. We are each a part of a beautiful chain of love that begins with God’s love for us and continues through our love for others. And together we are building the city of love and truth.
So let us pray for each other this week — and for our poorest brothers and sisters.
And let us ask Our Lady of Angels, patroness of this great Archdiocese, to pray for the success of this year’s Together in Mission campaign. Through her intercession, may our love for others tell of our love for God.