On Pentecost Sunday, June 5, Archbishop José H. Gomez celebrated Mass to mark the closing of the archdiocesan phase of the 16th Synod of Bishops called by Pope Francis. The process, opened in October, included listening sessions throughout the diocese in preparation for the meeting of the world’s bishops with the Pope in Rome in October 2023. The following is adapted from the archbishop’s homily.
On Pentecost, the Church was born in the fire of the Holy Spirit! And the Church here in Los Angeles is alive, on fire with the Spirit.
Earlier this month, I had the privilege of ordaining eight fine new priests to serve as shepherds and spiritual fathers to the family of God here in the archdiocese. And on this birthday of the Church, we ask for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our times, and a new flowering of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.
Our local observance of the Synod of Bishops called by Pope Francis has been a beautiful time for reflecting more deeply about our lives as disciples and our responsibility for the Church’s mission.
As St. Paul tells us, we belong to the Body of Christ — each of us a member, each of us with an important part to play in Our Lord’s beautiful plan of salvation.
On Pentecost the Holy Spirit came down upon Holy Mary and the apostles in “tongues of fire.” Filled with the Spirit, they began proclaiming, in every language of the earth, the mighty works of God.
On that first Pentecost there were people gathered “from every nation under heaven.” And everyone there that day heard the apostles’ preaching “in his native language.”
That’s our mission now. We are called to proclaim his Gospel to every nation.
We are called to follow Jesus, to love him and serve him, and to work with him to create, from out of the world’s many peoples, one family of God.
Jesus said that he came to cast fire on the earth. And he sent his Holy Spirit on Pentecost to complete his mission. The fire that started at Pentecost is meant to keep burning in us, in his Church.
Today Our Lord is telling you and me, as he told his apostles: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he spoke these words to his apostles, the Gospel tells us, “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ ”
This is what happens to each of us in our baptism.
Baptism is like our own personal Pentecost. In the living waters, Our Lord sends his Spirit into our hearts, making us a new creation, sons and daughters of the living God, brothers and sisters gathered into his family, members of his body, which is the Church.
In baptism we claim our true identity, the true meaning and purpose of our lives. And the purpose of our lives is to spread the fire of his love to the ends of the earth.
Just as the Father sent him, now he is sending us out, into our homes, the places where we work, our neighborhoods, everywhere.
We must see our lives as a missionary pilgrimage. We are following in the footsteps of Jesus, on our way back to the Father’s house, trying to get to heaven.
And as we walk this path with Jesus, we are called to invite our neighbors, our loved ones, everyone we meet, to come with us.
One of the holy writers said, “We cannot go to heaven alone, because God will say to us: Where are the others?”
We need to bring many others with us to heaven. This is our task.
This is our beautiful mission and this is what every soul is longing for! Only when people meet Jesus, can their lives begin again! Only in this encounter can they discover the beautiful love that God has for them, and the power of his forgiveness, his mercy.
So my dear brothers and sisters, Pentecost continues in your life and mine. Christ is alive in you. Let us live with that confidence. Let us live as he lived. And let us love as he loved!
Let us ask the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that there will be a new Pentecost in our days.
That we are really excited about our faith and that we are living our mission in our daily life, trusting in the presence of God in our lives and especially the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
May the fire of love in our hearts inspire others, until the whole world is on fire with the love of Christ!