My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Today we should especially keep in prayer all the victims of the sad tragedy in Santa Clarita. All the ones who died and all the ones injured, their families, and the whole community. It is very sad and let’s keep them in our prayers that healing is possible and always feel the presence of God in their lives during this challenging time.
Also, today I want to thank all of you for your prayers, especially this past week. As you know, I was in Baltimore for the annual meeting of the bishops of the United States. And I’m sure that you also know that I was elected to serve as the President of the bishops’ conference for the next three years.
This election is an honor for me and I think for all the different communities especially within our Archdiocese. It is a recognition of the beautiful diversity and the missionary spirit that we have here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
So, please — keep praying for me! I need it! And let us keep working together to follow Jesus and to be a witness to his love in everything that we do.
Today is also “World Day of the Poor,” started by Pope Francis. So, united to our Holy Father, we pray today for those who are poor. We ask God to help us to be good friends to the poor, and servants of the poor — showing compassion and bringing hope to all those in need.
And as I was saying at the beginning of Mass, we are coming to the end of the Church’s liturgical year — next week is the final Sunday, when we celebrate Christ the King; and after that we begin a new liturgical year with the first Sunday of Advent.
So, our readings today speak to us about the end of the world, and our Lord’s second coming. So the Church today is inviting us to reflect on the meaning of our time here on earth — the truth that our lives have a purpose in God’s great plan for history, his plan of salvation.
In the first reading, we hear how our Lord comes to judge the world and to judge our lives:
Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven…
But for you who fear my name, there will arise
the sun of justice with its healing rays.
The whole passage is challenging. But God’s judgment is not something we should be afraid of.
It is a reminder that God has a plan for our lives, that he loves us, and that he made us to do great things for him.
Our Lord’s words in today’s Gospel are also challenging to us. Jesus tells us there will be wars and earthquakes and famines and persecutions.
And we know what he is talking about. He is describing the reality of human sinfulness and living a fallen world. We see it every day in the news, violence and conflict. As I was saying just this terrible tragedy on that high school in Santa Clarita.
But what Jesus teaches us today, is that we should not be afraid when we think about the world. He is still in charge of the world, and he will never leave us alone. We will all face sorrow and pain in our lives. But we need to live with faith, knowing that he will always be present and with us, no matter what happens in our lives or in the world.
Jesus reminds us today, in the passage of the Gospel, that following him means we have to live differently from those around us, with different priorities and different habits.
We heard his words:
They will…persecute you … because of my name,
it will lead to your giving testimony. …
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
Strong words for us. But it is beautiful to hear how Jesus tells us that he is with us no matter what.
And in the second reading today, St. Paul is giving us some practical advice for how we can live our faith in our everyday life. As we heard, St. Paul is talking to us about work. He tells us:
In toil and drudgery, night and day
we worked, so as not to burden any of you. …
We wanted to present ourselves as a model for you,
so that you might imitate us.
This is something very important for us here. It is simple, but it really gives meaning to our lives. And we all remember that all the apostles had to work, they all had to earn a living. St. Peter was a fishermen, St. Paul was a tent-maker. St. Mary and St. Martha worked in the home. And of course, Jesus spent most of his life here on earth, working as a carpenter.
So work is a reality for all of us, everyone on earth. We all work every day — in our homes, at our jobs, in our ministries. We spend most of our days working.
St. Paul is telling us today that our work is a part of our Christian vocation, it is an essential, important part of God’s plan for our lives.
Probably some of you know in my Angelus column this week, I was reflecting on how our work is part our mission in life, our vocation, our calling from God.
So today, as we think of God’s plan for humanity, God’s plan for each one of us, so we need to ask ourselves — what do we do think of our work? Is it just something we “do”? Or do we see the work we do as part of our mission as disciples of Jesus Christ. And also, how can we do that, practically speaking?
The truth is that Jesus wants us to do everything — even the smallest chores and tasks — for the glory of God and the love of our neighbors. The saints all tell us that whatever we do, we should try to do something beautiful for God.
So, let us ask ourselves: what is work for me? Is it a path for holiness? It is something that I’m trying to make a way to get closer to God? And the next question is: how do we do it, practically speaking? Because it’s a challenge. We get busy and we get distracted and it’s difficult to really give spiritual meaning to our daily work.
So I would say that we can do it in little ways. We can ask Jesus to help us to do our work with excellence, pray for his guidance throughout the day. Just a little prayer here and there. Then we can offer up our work for some intention, it is a path to holiness, to sanctity. And we can practice charity and kindness with the people we work with, we can strive to be a good example to others of what it means to be a Christian. Sanctifying our daily life in the simplicity of our work every day.
And my dear brothers and sisters, this is how we can change the world. We are not going to change the world with big statements or extraordinary actions. We change this world by changing our hearts and changing the way we live and the way we work. Again, in the simplicity of our daily lives.
So this week, as we continue to work — as we go back to our daily work — no matter what kind of job we have, let’s try to have a different intention for our work, a different outlook. It’s not just something that we have to do — it’s a great opportunity to love God and to love others and to make sure that we are striving for holiness.
Let’s try to really be “hidden,” everyday saints — in our homes and in our jobs.
And let us ask Mary our Blessed Mother for her intercession, to help us today to follow Jesus more closely — to be missionaries and apostles in all the circumstances of our daily lives.
1. Readings: Mal. 3:19-20a; Ps. 98:5-9; 2 Thess. 3:7-12; Luke 21:5-19.