In a special Mass offered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and broadcast nationwide over the internet, Archbishop José H. Gomez offered prayers for President Joseph Biden just an hour before his inauguration as America’s 46th president.
“As we know, President Biden will be our first president in 60 years to profess the Catholic faith,” Archbishop Gomez said in his homily. “Let us pray that God will continue to strengthen and deepen his personal faith. And let us also pray that God will help him to always keep his heart open to hear the cry of the poor and the weak and the vulnerable.”
Calling this a “time of transition and uncertainty,” and citing “deep divisions in our country, both political and cultural,” the archbishop called for “national unity and healing.”
He urged Catholics and other believers to make their voices heard and to be “healers and peacemakers.”
“Now is the time for us to come together, to start talking again, to seek common ground, as Americans,” he said. “Nothing is lost and everything is gained by sincere dialogue, especially with those who oppose us or disagree with us.”
The full text of the archbishop’s homily follows:
Homily — Inauguration Day
My brothers and sisters in Christ,
We are praying today for our nation in this time of transition and uncertainty. We offer our prayers, especially, for our new president and his family.
Let us ask that God be with our new president and grant him wisdom and courage to lead this great nation.
As we know, President Biden will be our first president in 60 years to profess the Catholic faith.
Let us pray that God will continue to strengthen and deepen his personal faith. And let us also pray that God will help him to always keep his heart open to hear the cry of the poor and the weak and the vulnerable.
As we know, our nation faces many challenges in this moment.
It has been almost a year now that we have been living with the pandemic. We mourn the dead and we ask God to be with all those who are sick; we pray for our neighbors who are isolated and afraid, for the elderly and the frail. And we pray for our health care providers and public health officials.
We also know that we are facing deep divisions in our country, both political and cultural. So, we pray today for national unity and healing, and we pray for peace.
We heard those beautiful words this morning in our first reading: “The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you and kindly and give you peace!”
This is our prayer for our nation.
Brothers and sisters, America was founded to be one nation under God — dedicated to the truth that all men and women are created equal; that every person has God-given rights, and that we are made to live in freedom and truth.
This morning, let us unite and come together as one people, and let us renew our common commitment to this sacred purpose.
Our nation’s founders were wise. They knew that this form of government, “by the people and for the people,” could not survive without religion and without faithful citizens.
Now, more than ever, our country needs to hear the voice of believers and to see our good deeds. We need to live our faith with joy and confidence.
We need to share the love of God by the way we live, by the way we love and serve our neighbor, especially the poor and the vulnerable.
St. James tells us today in the second reading: “Let him show his works by a good life, in the humility that comes from wisdom.”
We ask God for that wisdom today. For that humility.
None of us has all the answers. We need one another. So let us care for one another and listen to one another; let’s pray for one another. Even those who disagree with us, even those who have a different point of view. We need to love our enemies and bless those who oppose us.
Now is the time for us to come together, to start talking again, to seek common ground. As Americans. Nothing is lost and everything is gained by sincere dialogue, especially with those who oppose us or disagree with us.
In the Gospel today, Jesus calls us to “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” for holiness and justice. He calls us to be “peacemakers.”
This is our Christian duty in this moment, in my brothers and sisters.
To be healers and peacemakers.
Let’s make that our prayer today. Let’s ask for the grace to walk humbly and seek justice. To treat others with the same compassion that we want for ourselves. To overcome evil and lies — not by more of the same — but with words of truth and works of love.
The most important thing we can do right now as American Catholics is to strengthen our faith, and share our faith, and live our faith. If we live our faith in Jesus with generous and grateful hearts, he will strengthen us and help us to renew the soul of our nation.
From the very beginning, Christians have always offered prayers for those in civil authority. So again let us keep praying for President Biden and praying for our country. May Our Lord strengthen him, grant him courage and wisdom to lead this great nation.
Let us entrust the anxieties and hopes of this moment to our Blessed Mother Mary, who is the Queen of Peace and the Mirror of Justice.
May she bring us a new birth of unity and true patriotism in our nation.