Responding to violence caused by the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Archbishop of Los Angeles said the message in this week's Gospel is one of inclusion, no matter a person's race or nationality.
“We heard those beautiful words from the prophet Isaiah in the first reading: 'For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples,'” Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said Aug. 19. “Today's readings remind us that God wants his Church to be the home for all peoples — to be one family that welcomes men and women of every nation, every race, every language and every culture,” he said during at the installation Mass for Monsignor Kostelnik at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels.
On Aug. 5, hundreds of white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville to protest the removal of a General Robert E. Lee statue. The demonstration began on Friday night, where they waved Confederate flags and yelled phrases such as “you will not replace us,” and “Jew will not replace us.”
On Saturday morning, the group was met by opposing protesters, ranging from religious leaders to supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. After convening at Emancipation Park, violence ensued when a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one women and injury 19 more people.
In response to this, Archbishop Gomez spoke of the need to acknowledge God's desire to be with all his children, which he said overcomes ideologies that oppose the dignity of the human person. Archbishop Gomez referenced the Canaanite woman in the reading of the Gospel of Matthew, and said that it was her faith that was “the key to belonging to God,” not where she was born, her skin color, or the language she spoke. He said this was a radical teaching both during Jesus' time as well as our time, but that God's universal family united in his mercy is a message we must all form our lives to.
“We are all brothers and sisters. We are all children, born of the Father's mercy. St. Paul tells us today that Jesus came — 'that [God] might have mercy upon all.'” Referring to the St. Paul's Letter to the Romans, Archbishop Gomez said that God desires “the reconciliation of the world,” which means the Church has an obligation to be a “true sign and instrument of healing and unity.”
“We need to work to overcome all the forms of racial thinking and racist practices that are still realities in our society.” He identified the racism in the country as new type of racism, one built on fear and in reaction to what is happening in the economy and society. This fear, he said, has produced more anger and bitterness, resulting in a greater division.
At the end of his homily, Archbishop Gomez urged Catholics to face this challenging time with the faith of the Canaanite woman: “She was desperate but she never doubted in God’s love, or in God's goodness. She kept talking to Jesus, kept praying. She said, 'Lord, help me!'”