On Sept. 26, Archbishop Gomez ordained four new auxiliary bishops for the Archbishop of Los Angeles. The following is adapted from his homily.
Every episcopal ordination brings us deep into the mystery of the Church, into the mystery of God’s plan for the world and for our lives.
Jesus Christ built his Catholic Church on the foundation of his apostles, to be the sign of his love and the instrument by which he makes the whole human race into his family, his kingdom on earth.
Our lives are a part of this divine love story.
Pope Francis said recently in Mongolia: “This is the heart of the Christian faith: God, who is Love, has drawn near to you, to me, to everyone, in his Son Jesus, and wants to share in your life, your work, your dreams, and your thirst for happiness.”
Love is the true meaning of our religion. Spreading that love to the ends of the earth is the Church’s mission. Today, my dear bishops-elect, the Lord consecrates you to lead in that mission.
St. Ignatius of Antioch was a bishop taught by the apostles and martyred as they were. He said: “One should look upon the bishop as upon the Lord himself.”
Brothers, you are called today to become the face of Christ, his presence among the people you serve. What a privilege! What a responsibility!
But no bishop stands alone. Jesus says today in the Gospel that as the Father has loved him, so he loves you. You will walk with him in friendship, as shepherds of souls and stewards of God’s mysteries.
St. Paul reminds us today: “We do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord.” We preach his Word, not our word.
And his Word is good news to the poor and all those who are anxious and troubled, just as the prophet Isaiah says in the first reading.
When Jesus preached, people were astonished and left everything to follow him.
Why? Because for the first time someone spoke to them of their dignity, told them that there was more to life, that they were born for greater things.
Jesus loves us for who we are, and he meets us where we are. But he never leaves us there. He calls us to follow him, to put off our old life and become children of God, to be holy as he is holy.
His Word burned in people’s hearts. It changed lives and changed the world. And it can do that again.
On Pentecost, the 11 apostles gathered in an upper room with the mother of Jesus. Another hundred or so men and women were with them. They were the few remaining disciples of a Man who had died on the cross. They were hated and persecuted.
Yet from that upper room, their message went out to all the earth.
This tiny remnant converted an empire and built a new civilization. Not through politics or violence, but through love.
The first Christians loved as they had been loved, leading holy lives in the middle of the world, as everyday saints. They drew life from the Eucharist and poured out their own lives as an offering of love. Just as Jesus taught them.
They changed the world by believing in the Gospel and challenging others to live it. They encouraged marriages and strengthened families; they taught children to love Jesus and walk in his way.
My dear brothers: You are the successors of those apostles who preached the Gospel to the whole world and made disciples of all nations. The love of Christ impelled them, and they did whatever Jesus told them.
This is your mission now! This is the mission that we all share in the Church. And you must lead us.
The task before us is urgent. Jesus does not want a single soul to be lost.
So many today are like sheep without a shepherd, confused about life, searching for meaning, for happiness and love. How will they find Jesus, if we do not proclaim him?
We are all called to play our part in this love story that God is writing in history.
So, let us proclaim his Word boldly, with courage and clarity, and above all, charity.
My brothers and sisters, let us pray for our new bishops! May they lead us in the ways of Jesus.
May holy Mary, Queen of the Apostles, be with them, and with all of us. “All with Peter, to Jesus, through Mary!”