…Whichever way you travel, you would move over the gigantic freeway system that connects one section of this city and county with another, some 500 miles of freeway that no city in the world equals — freeways that typify this city as the aqueducts still carry the atmosphere and the character of ancient Rome.But for those who move through our city in this way, there would remain something they would never see in this brilliant mixture of art, intelligence, business and medical advancements, of concrete structures and the vast, conquered space.Would never see the poor.You can drive from the center of our city to Long Beach and never see Watts or our black brothers and sisters still struggling to be accorded basic human dignity and opportunity. You can move from downtown towards Riverside and Santa Ana, and miss the hundreds of thousands of Hispanics, with some 40 percent unemployment, in East Los Angeles, and you would overlook them — not simply because the poor are often invisible, but because the crowds of youth by the liquor stores and the old men shuffling through the streets have become so common.Even more, you would overlook them quite literally because the very freeway system that joins the worlds of culture and opportunity with the worlds of great hotels and restaurants allows those who use them to drive right over the poor. The poor are beneath us.…A hundred years ago, we were an immigrant city; we remain an immigrant city today, and to the Mexican, the Irish, the English, the Chinese have been added the waves of blacks from the South, the many peoples from Southeast Asia, from Central America, and from Eastern Europe. Almost every language is spoken here, and if you speak only English you cut yourself off from more than a third of the city.… The city is built from the paradox of our diversity.…And to all of this ambiguity of riches and poverty, of discrimination and opportunity, of greatness and of serious sin, the church is sent. This is the context in which we hear the Gospel which has just been proclaimed, and which stands as judgment, as challenge upon our lives, a Gospel read to those whom Jesus has approached as they themselves are divided between adoration and hesitation.For the ambiguity of our city finds its parallel within our church as we follow and as we hesitate, as we believe but fear the justice of God more than the injustice of human beings, as we call for conversion and stand ourselves within the profound need for continual conversion.It is not ourselves we preach; we preach Christ Jesus. It is not we who are the salvation offered to this city; it is the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself over for us, whose ministers we are, whose tangible, visible continuation we are to become.For fundamentally we are here with sacrament and Gospel not because we have estimated our own worth and want to contribute to the city from our riches. All of the ambiguity and need of this city is found also within ourselves. The church, the holy church, is not even here because she has calculated that need and is determined to minister to it. This is true, but not true enough.The church, its ministers and its Gospel, is fundamentally here for one and only one reason. We are here because we have been sent, because through the centuries we have read and reread this Gospel in our churches and have found in it the mandate of our lives, the final self-understanding of Christ and the final charge to His disciples: “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me, go, therefore… [Matthew 28: 18-19].” Jesus is Lord, and out of His sovereignty comes command, and that command is our commission.The church is most herself when she makes her own that world of suffering and anxiety, of underprivilege and exploitation, of destitution and hopelessness, when she confronts the rich man with Lazarus that both might be saved.I shall take seriously my charge as your new Archbishop to renew continually God’s call to our community and Jesus’ teachings as they touch upon our contemporary society. The transforming power of God’s grace can be effective only when we faithfully and courageously proclaim His message in the midst of the imperfect and the sinful, and call ourselves to a renewed vision and sense of the Lord’s plan for us.Therefore, with respect to the many creative institutions and centers within the Archdiocese, we must never hesitate to call for their attaining the higher aspirations of the human heart according to God’s design:—We must encourage our cultural centers to recognize the many contributions of our various newly arrived peoples among us, and expand our own horizons with the vitality of different cultures.—We are called to be certain that all of our outstanding educational centers are open and available to all our peoples, and that educational opportunity for all is a priority for us.—We are compelled to reaffirm the value and dignity of each human life, and to urge our medical centers to a renewed recognition of that human life from the moment of its conception through natural death. Our city stands gravely indicted with the recent protracted horror story of thousands of aborted human beings tossed into trash dumpsters and shamefully buried without the dignity of a prayer.—We lift our voices in protest as a portion of the creative arts industry chooses to degrade basic human dignity in sexual exploitation, racial or gender stereotypes, and brutal violence. We all stand in shame as our city is acknowledged as one of the pornography centers of the world.—We recognize the great advances in scientific research and development in our midst, but we must deplore the billions of dollars spent here annually to develop and fuel an arms race that impoverishes and threatens the entire world.…This past December, our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, called upon all of us, but especially his brother bishops, to make the “preferential option for the poor our very own.” This evening I accept his invitation and make that option my own as well.Sacrament and Gospel are offered to all human beings, and the church is to serve the common good of humanity. But the church is most herself when she makes her own that world of suffering and anxiety, of underprivilege and exploitation, of destitution and hopelessness, when she confronts the rich man with Lazarus that both might be saved.As your new chief shepherd, I shall always have an abiding love and concern for the whole flock entrusted to me, but I must always be concerned about those who fall behind or wander from the general movement of the flock of Christ. Protecting those on the margins and gently bringing them into the main body is essential to the work of the shepherd.…The mission of the church to the city and Archdiocese of Los Angeles not only takes its origin from Christ, it also incarnates a particular presence of Christ. For notice in this Gospel that after the mission has been given to the 11 disciples, after their ministry has been specified as both sacrament and gospel, a sacramental and teaching church, the entire Gospel concludes with the promise of Christ: “And behold, I am with you all days, even to the end of the world [Matthew 28:20].” The promise of presence is given to the church precisely within its mission.It is not that Christ is simply the source of the ministry of the church and its final termination. Christ is also an abiding presence within His disciples as they move out to serve the religious needs of all human beings in His name. The church here is called to be the sacrament of this presence within Los Angeles, that what the resurrected Christ offered to the initial community of disciples might continue to be offered within our community of His followers.