Next week we begin a Jubilee Year to mark the 250th anniversary of Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, the first church founded in what is now the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, on September 8, 1771.
In the Church’s tradition, a jubilee is far more than an anniversary celebration. A jubilee gives glory and praise to God and, in the words of Jesus and the prophets, a jubilee is “a year of the Lord’s favor.”
We will begin this holy year in worship and prayer, offering homage and thanks for our Lord’s incarnation and the gift of redemption that he brings to us.
I will lead a prayer service at the Mission on the evening of September 8, the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The following evening, we begin 40 hours of Eucharistic adoration at 22 pilgrimage parishes designated throughout the archdiocese. Our adoration will conclude with the solemn opening of the Holy Door and the Jubilee Year’s inaugural Mass, which I will offer on September 11 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. (For details, see our website, forwardinmission.com)
Every Jubilee is a season of mercy and many graces, as we renew our belief that all time and history belong to the Creator, and that in his Providence he has a plan and purpose for every person and every nation under heaven.
With the founding of San Gabriel Mission by St. Junípero Serra and the first peoples of this land, God began a new chapter in salvation history, planting the seeds of his kingdom in southern California, seeds that have borne fruit in a beautiful local Church that embraces peoples from every race, language, and nationality.
This jubilee also reminds us that America has a Christian “soul,” that the freedoms and values that our country upholds are rooted in the Gospel proclaimed by St. Junípero and countless missionaries who offered their lives to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to this land.
That mission of bringing Jesus Christ to America continues in your life and mine. That is the deeper spiritual meaning of this jubilee — the rediscovery that to be a Catholic means to be a missionary.
In the biblical tradition, the jubilee was marked by specific practices — canceling debts, freeing slaves, returning property to its original owners, letting the land “rest” from farming.
With our jubilee, too, we are also inviting people to adopt new habits of devotion — to pray together with family members and neighbors; to study the Gospels in the spirit of prayerful reading or lectio divina; and to perform acts of charity and works of mercy.
The point of these practices is, again, to realize that our time belongs to God.
We are not just “here” in this world. Each one of us was put here by the living God for a purpose. We are here to make a difference for Jesus for his kingdom. We have a duty to sanctify our time or “redeem the time,” as the apostles used to say.
As I reflect on this jubilee, I have been thinking a lot about a Latin expression, “Nunc coepi!”
It means, “Now I begin!” and it is a concept that we find often in the writings and lives of the saints, from Venerable Bruno Lanteri to the Servant of God Dorothy Day.
One of my favorite saints, the holy priest St. Josemaría Escrivá, said: “ ‘Nunc coepi!’ — ‘Now I begin!’ This is the cry of a soul in love which, at every moment, whether it has been faithful or lacking in generosity, renews its desire to serve — to love! — our God with a wholehearted loyalty.”
That is my hope for this Jubilee Year! For me, this Jubilee is providential. It comes at a time when our Church and our society are facing so many challenges, from the pandemic, from changes and disruptions in our society.
And I feel that God is calling us in this jubilee to make a new beginning, to get back to the basics of living and proclaiming our faith in Jesus Christ.
My prayer is that everyone of us in the Church — bishops, priests, deacons, religious and consecrated, seminarians, and lay people will use this jubilee year to say: “Now I begin again to love Jesus Christ! Now I begin again to serve him with all my heart, to speak of him, and to share his love in everything I do!”
Pray for me and know that I am praying for you. And as we begin this Jubilee Year, let us entrust ourselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary and let us ask her to intercede and make this a season of grace for all of us, that we may begin again to know the great gift of our Catholic faith; the beauty of living as children of God and walking in his presence.