My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
We gather to pray for our great city, El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles.
We invoke Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels, and we ask her to cover us in her mantle, to protect our families and watch over our city.
We ask our Heavenly Mother to lead us and guide us in the ways of love. And we dedicate ourselves to her today, one more time. We pledge again to make her always, the queen of our hearts.
Mary is our Queen and she brought our King into the world. In our Gospel today, we hear the beautiful promise of the angel:
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus …
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David, his father …
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.
Jesus Christ was born to bring God’s kingdom. This was his mission. And the missionaries who founded this great city, who came from far off lands, leaving everything behind — they were following in the footsteps of Christ.
These missionaries were summoned by his call to walk with him, to redeem this world with him. St. Junípero Serra and his brother Franciscans came to proclaim the coming of his Kingdom, and to build his Kingdom in history.
We are nearly 250 years on, and this is still our mission as his Church. This is the mission that is given to every Christian in Baptism. Each one of us is called to walk with Christ and redeem this world with him. We are called to bring his Kingdom to Los Angeles.
My dear brothers and sisters, my great hope is that all of us, that every Catholic will rediscover the meaning of our Baptism.
Baptism gives our lives their purpose and direction. Baptism makes us children of the King, and gives us the mission of building his Kingdom.
By the fact of our Baptism, we are here, in this time and place to build his Kingdom in our city. This is what Los Angeles was meant to be! A city of angels, part of his Kingdom on earth.
But obviously the question that we have to ask ourselves is: what would the Kingdom look like in Los Angeles?
God’s Kingdom comes by way of love. It comes, not in words or speeches. It comes in truth and in deeds.
St. John Paul II said, “The kingdom aims at transforming human relationships; it grows gradually as people slowly learn to love, forgive, and serve one another.”2
What a beautiful vision — for our lives and for our city. A city of love and forgiveness and service.
We know that we are living in times in this country when the truth about the dignity and sanctity of the human person is being lost. More and more we hear that our faith — the faith of the missionaries, the truth revealed by Jesus Christ — is no longer needed, no longer relevant. Sometimes we even hear that our faith is a “threat” to others. We are allowed to pray and worship, but we cannot express our faith or live our values in our public life.
But my dear brothers and sisters, we know, as the missionaries knew, that our city needs God. He alone is the rock, the foundation of a society that truly protects the freedom and equal dignity of every person.
Without God, we cannot see the image of God in every one of our brothers and sisters!
This is our mission, my brothers and sisters! The missionaries brought Christ to this land. But sadly, we can say that he has been cast out, or forgotten. Our task now — is to bring him back! To bring back Jesus Christ to this land.
As we heard in the first reading of today’s Mass from the prophet Isaiah:
The people who walk in darkness
have seen a great light;
Upon those who live in a land of gloom
A light has shown.
You have brought them abundant joy
And great rejoicing
We need to evangelize this culture! To proclaim that this world has a Creator and a plan for his creation. To proclaim the mystery of the human person, and allow every person to have the right to lead a free and dignified life.
Again, it’s not just a matter of words, but by our actions, as we know. We do this by caring for one another, by feeling responsibility for the well-being of our neighbors, and especially those who are weak and vulnerable.
Just as Jesus did. Jesus went to the poor and Jesus wants us to be there, too. He gave his life for us, and he calls us to live our lives serving others. He wants us to touch people through our love, through our works of mercy. He wants us to be his voice and his hands, bringing his gifts to those in need.
It is our beautiful mission. It is what we are called to do by the fact that we receive the grace of life and then baptism.
And we are coming to the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the true founding of this city — the founding of San Gabriel Mission on September 8, 1771.
So I am thinking that it would be good for all of us to start a Jubilee Year. Next year, probably at the celebration of this Mass in 2020 — if we prepare ourselves for that beautiful celebration of the 250th Anniversary of the founding of our city.
So today, let us especially ask Mary our Blessed Mother for her intercession. That if we start preparing ourselves, renewing our commitment to be missionary disciples as Pope Francis wants us to be. So when that happens, if God’s Kingdom grows in our hearts, personally — in each one of us.
So let’s ask Mary our Blessed Mother, Queen of the Angels, to especially help all of us to renew our commitment to be faithful to God and especially to our missionary call to bring the Kingdom of God to our hearts, to our families, to our city, to the whole world.