(On June 3, Archbishop José H. Gomez ordained eight men to the priesthood in a Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The following is adapted from his homily.)

Today we rejoice with the whole family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Every ordination is a time for us to thank God for the gift of the priesthood. 

God gives us priests to accompany and guide us on our path of following Jesus. As we know, our priests are with us at every stage in our lives, bringing us the love of God and helping us to grow in holiness and in our service to God’s kingdom.

So let us pray today and thank God for our new priests: Cesar, Michael, Rene, Hieu, Luis, Enrique, Emmanuel, and Sergio!

So today, the Lord calls each of you by name, calls you to follow him, calls you to be his friends. He is calling each of you to be a father and a priest for his people.

As he appointed the apostles, his first priests, in the mystery of his love, now he calls you to this intimate friendship.

He is anointing you and sending you out, just as he sent out the apostles, to “bring glad tidings,” to proclaim his freedom, to heal and to comfort, as the prophet says in the first reading of today’s Mass.

Pope St. John Paul II used to say that the priesthood is a “wondrous exchange.”

We give Jesus the gift of ourselves — our lips to speak his words of truth and forgiveness, our hands to offer the sacrifice of his Body and Blood.

And in exchange, Jesus gives us the power to be his instruments, to teach and minister in his name. “He who hears you, hears me,” he tells us. And again: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.”

Jesus Christ makes every priest “another Christ.”

In the words of the Second Vatican Council, you become “living instruments of Christ the eternal priest, so that through the ages he can accomplish his wonderful work of reuniting the whole human race with heavenly power.”

And it is a beautiful thing to be his instruments, to be his voice, his hands.

Being a priest means walking in the footsteps of Jesus, who emptied himself to come among us as a servant, who humbled himself to die on a cross for those he loved.

The priesthood is the “office of love,” as St. Augustine said. And love means laying down your life for the ones you love, as our Lord reminds us in the Gospel.

Today we heard St. Paul’s beautiful farewell address in that second reading. And he tells us: “Tend the Church of God that he acquired with his own blood.”

This is your mission now, my dear brothers. Guard your people with your life. They are precious to Jesus, each of them bought with the price of his own blood.

And then St. Paul paints a dark picture today — “savage wolves” will come to threaten your flock; others will come, he says, “perverting the truth” to draw your people away.

We all know the challenges in our culture, the challenges of skepticism and relativism, the idea that there are no truths, that religious beliefs are just private opinions.

We know the hostility that the Church faces in the society around us. We know we are living in a moment of “strong delusion” about the meaning of the human person.

So, yes, the apostle is right. We need to “be vigilant,” as he says.

But the most important line in the second reading of today’s Mass is the last one: “When [St. Paul] had finished speaking he knelt down and prayed with them all.”

My brothers, you must give priority to prayer! Pray for your people. Pray with your people.

Love to spend time with Jesus in the Eucharist. Seek his face, adore him, love him. Let him look upon you with love. Listen for his voice.

This is what our people expect from their priests, and this is what they deserve. They deserve men of prayer, men of mercy, men who know the ways of God.

Anything else, our people can get from someone else. But only you can bring them Jesus.

The Servant of God Catherine Doherty wrote a beautiful book to priests, called “Dear Father.” And in it she writes this: “Give us Christ instead of yourself!

So, my brothers, give them Christ! Bring them Jesus!

And always stay close to our Blessed Mother. She still has the best advice for priests, and for all of us: “Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you!

Let us ask Holy Mary’s intercession for these men, our brothers who, in a few minutes, are about to become priests. And let us pray for many more vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life.