On March 12, Archbishop Gomez addressed One LA–IAF, a coalition of area religious and nonprofit organizations promoting social justice. The following is adapted from his talk.

One day, St. Mother Teresa found an old woman lying on the streets of Calcutta. She was homeless, mentally ill, and in a lot of pain.

Mother Teresa took her in, but all the while the woman was yelling and cursing. At one point she asked: “Why are you doing this? Who taught you?” 

Mother Teresa replied: “My God taught me.”

This calmed the woman down a little, and she asked: “Who is this God?” 

Mother Teresa responded: “You know my God. My God is called Love.”

This story teaches us a beautiful lesson about compassion for the poor.

It also tells us about the heart of God, about the Eucharist, and about our commitments as believers.

Our God is called love.

And our God so loved the world that he sent his only Son to share in our humanity, and in the reality of our everyday lives.

And out of love, Jesus laid down his life on the cross for you and me, and for every person who was ever born or ever will be born.

The Eucharist is the sacrament of his great love.

Jesus left us the Eucharist so that we would never forget what he has done for us and how much he loves us. And he left us the Eucharist so that we would never forget his new commandment: that we love one another, as he has loved us.

And from the time of the apostles, there has always been a close connection between the Eucharist and Jesus’ command to love our neighbor, especially the poor.

One of the oldest Church documents outside the New Testament is called “The Teaching of the Apostles.” It dates to the early third century, and it contains this line: “Widows and orphans are to be revered like the altar.”

Our Eucharistic faith is summed up in this beautiful line.

Jesus taught us that he would be present in the bread and wine at the altar, but also in the flesh and blood of our neighbors, especially the poor and suffering. “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me,” he told us.

This is how we are called to live: loving and revering Jesus in the Eucharist, and putting our love into living action in reverent service of the poor.

The Servant of God Dorothy Day lived for nearly 50 years serving the poorest of the poor in New York City.

In her writings, she describes serving the most difficult of the homeless, men and women broken in body and spirit: the mentally ill, those addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Dorothy Day shared in their poverty, lived with them under the cruelest of conditions.

She once wrote: “If we hadn’t got Christ’s own words for it, it would seem raving lunacy to believe that if I offer a bed and food and hospitality to some man or woman or child … that my guest is Christ. … There are no halos already glowing around their heads — at least none that human eyes can see.”

Dorothy Day lived from the Eucharist, which she received every day.

And the Eucharist gave her new eyes to see. Not human eyes, but Christ’s eyes. As she found Jesus Christ in the bread and wine at the altar, she was able to see him in everyone she served. 

The Catechism says, “The Eucharist commits us to the poor.”

Jesus calls us to follow him ever more deeply into the mystery of human suffering and pain, the mystery of poverty and injustice.

He calls us to feed and clothe him in the hungry, the thirsty, and the naked. He calls us to visit him in the sick and the prisoner, and to welcome him in the migrant and the refugee.

He calls us to work for a world that is more merciful, and where everyone is able to lead a life worthy of human dignity.

Mother Teresa was right: Our God is called love. And our God calls us to be the servants of his love in the world.

She used to say, “Our lives are woven with Jesus in the Eucharist. In holy Communion we have Christ under the appearance of bread; in our work we find him under the appearance of flesh and blood. It is the same Christ. ‘I was hungry, I was naked, I was sick, I was homeless.’ ”

In this time of the national Eucharistic Revival, let us weave our lives with Jesus in the Eucharist.

Let us revere him at the altar and in the poor and the orphan, and in every one of our neighbors, especially those most in need.