This Sunday, bishops from around the world will gather in Rome with Pope Francis for an Oct. 5-19 synod that will examine marriage and the family.
As we know, families and marriages face many challenges in our culture. So I hope you will join me in praying that the Synod will cause the world to once more see that marriage and family are sacred realities, gifts that God has given to us for our happiness and for the stability of our societies.
In God’s plan, the Church is called to form the family of God on earth. And this Saturday, Oct. 4, 10 a.m., we will highlight that with our annual Celebration of Cultures Mass at the Cathedral.
This beautiful celebration of the Eucharist will be followed by a day-long Festival of Cultures — showcasing the rich diversity of nationalities, races and ethnicities that make up the family of God here in Los Angeles.
This Sunday is also Respect Life Sunday, designated by the U.S. Bishops. In fact, as we do each October, the Church in our country calls us this month to reflect on the meaning and dignity of human life.
God has shown us, through Jesus, a beautiful vision of who we are and how to live.
It is a vision of every man and woman as the image of God, sacred and created personally by him and given a purpose — called to love and to create a world of truth and beauty and justice and peace, a Kingdom where all live as brothers and sisters, children of their Father in heaven.
Jesus gave his Church the duty to proclaim this vision to build that Kingdom. That’s what we are trying to do every day in our churches and charities, in our ministries and in our homes.
The Church’s vision is “catholic.” It embraces the life of every person, no matter what their physical condition or their status in society. It embraces the whole of life — from conception in the womb to natural death.
This vision is God’s vision and we strive every day to make it our own. By our human nature, we tend to see things through our own “lens,” our own categories. It’s hard for us sometimes to see beyond self-interest, beyond our own fears and prejudices.
But God’s vision is whole, and it can never be partial. God cannot see some lives as worthy and some as less worthy. For God, every life is sacred and beautiful and filled with possibility — a life he chose to create, a treasure that is precious.
So our vision, too, must be whole and never partial. Respect for life means there are no exceptions to our love. Our faith calls us to be people who reflect the tenderness of God and his compassion for all his creation.
Our Holy Father Pope Francis says: “Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”
In this spirit of promoting a society where every life is valued and respected and human dignity is protect and promoted, I want to tell you about two upcoming events.
The first is the annual Christian Service 4 Life day, sponsored by LifeSocal and our Archdiocesan Office of Life, Justice and Peace.
The event will be held at the StubHub Center Oct. 14 and will bring together some 8,000 students and many priests from around the archdiocese for a day of prayer and a call to service.
Our Life, Justice and Peace Office is also planning a positive and beautiful event for early next year. OneLifeLA, to be held Jan. 17, 2015, will be a family-centered event celebrating human dignity and the beauty of every human life.
This event will bring together a wide coalition reflecting the breadth of the Church’s concern for life — from groups working with crisis pregnancies and foster children to advocates for the homeless and for refugees, immigrants, and victims of human trafficking.
Please visit our new website, OneLifeLA.org, for details and please share the short video message and encourage friends, family and co-workers to join us.
Pray for me this week and I will pray for you. Let’s all ask for the grace to be more generous and to see things more and more as God sees them, with a love that embraces every life and seeks to bring mercy and justice to those most vulnerable and most in need.
Let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help the synod fathers to seek wisdom and to respond to the challenges facing the family with courage and faithfulness to God’s plan.
Archbishop Gomez is the author of “Men of Brave Heart: The Virtue of Courage in the Priestly Life” (Our Sunday Visitor, 2009) and “Hombres de corazón valiente: La virtud de la fortaleza en la vida sacerdotal” (Spanish Edition).