(Editor’s note: On June 1 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Archbishop Gomez ordained six new priests for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The following is adapted from his homily.)
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
Every ordination is a time for us to thank God for the gift of the priesthood.
God gives us priests to accompany and guide us on our path of following Jesus. As we know, our priests are with us at every stage in our lives, bringing the love of God to us in the sacraments and in our mission of service and evangelization.
They are with us when we are baptized as infants. They help us to grow, feeding us in the Eucharist and healing us in the sacrament of reconciliation. They prepare us to be confirmed as mature disciples.
Our priests are there with us when we are married. And they are there to anoint us for our final journey, from this life to the life of the world to come.
Every one of us has a vocation. We are not all called to be priests, but we all participate in the common priesthood of Jesus who is calling each of us to follow him and to play our part in his beautiful plan for the salvation of the world.
Jesus gave his Church only one mission: to proclaim him, risen and alive, and to unite the peoples of this world into one family of God. This is our mission, everyone of us. We are called to be missionary disciples, bringing the love of Jesus into every walk of life and every life situation.
And God gives us his priests to accompany us in this mission.
My dear brothers, this is the noble vocation that you are called to: to be spiritual fathers for the family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Jesus, as we heard in the Gospel, is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.
This is the whole content of the Gospel. Jesus died for us, he rose for us, and now he walks with us to lead us through the dark valleys of this world into the light of the world to come.
Now you, my brothers, are called to be the shepherds of God’s people.
And Jesus is calling you to do it as he did, serving your brothers and sisters in humility, from the heart, and at a personal sacrifice.
Our Lord came to us clothed in weakness, as a child in the womb. He humbled himself to come among us and be our servant. And he offered himself as a sacrifice, giving his own life so that we could find life. And in this, my brothers, he has given you an example for your own priesthood.
My brothers, I have to tell you: It is so exciting to be a priest. I wouldn’t trade my vocation for anything in the world.
There is nothing more beautiful than to bring people to that encounter with Jesus Christ, so that they can know him, and love him, and imitate him, and work to make this world his kingdom.
When you are a priest, you pray every day at the altar, and when you do, you are standing between heaven and earth. And at that altar, in your hands, God comes to his people. In his Body and Blood, his Soul and Divinity.
God comes to you so that you can bring him to his people. It is beyond words, how beautiful that is.
It is an amazing, thrilling vocation, that you are called to. To be his priests. Men of God. Friends of Christ.
Your friendship with Jesus, this is absolutely essential to your priesthood. To be a priest means especially this, to be a man of God and to be a friend of Jesus Christ.
I am praying for you my brothers; we all are.
May you love Jesus and imitate his virtues as the Good Shepherd. May you love your people with a father’s love and have compassion and understanding, and always let the love of Christ be the reason for everything you do.
So, my brothers and sisters, let us all pray for these men, our brothers who, in a few minutes, are about to become priests.
Let us thank God for their families, because the family is the foundation of every vocation. And let us pray that God will call many more men to be his priests.
And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to be close to us, and may she teach us all to walk in the footsteps of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.