Editor’s note: On June 18, Archbishop Gomez celebrated the annual Mass in Recognition of All Immigrants at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. This column is adapted from his homily.
Today we are celebrating the immigrant spirit that makes America great.
America has always been a beautiful collection of many immigrant peoples. And the immigrant spirit is still renewing the soul of America — even though we are going through some hard times and struggles in recent years.
There is a time for politics and there is a time for prayer. A time for action and a time for reflection.
Now is a time for prayer. In our lives, we need prayer and action. But, as the saints remind us — prayer should always come first.
So today we ask God’s Spirit to enlighten our minds and open our hearts. We ask him to strengthen us as we continue on our journey.
In the first reading that we heard today, Moses tells us: “Not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord.”
Today we want to reflect on our lives and our nation — in the light of God’s Word, in the light of God’s plan of salvation.
This country’s founders believed that God created all men and women with a dignity and a destiny that is transcendent. They believed that our Creator endowed our lives with a meaning and purpose that lies beyond politics and economics.
The promise of America is that this land will be a home for all peoples — no matter what the color of their skin, or what nation they came from, or what language they speak, or what religion they believe.
And, my brothers and sisters, you are children of America’s promise. You know the blessings of this country.
I know that many of you came to this country at great sacrifice and suffering. It cost you a lot. You were forced to leave everything behind. All to follow this promise. All to make a better life for your children, for your families.
¡Siempre Adelante! Always forward! That is the prayer of St. Junípero Serra, an immigrant and missionary — and one of the founding fathers of Los Angeles and America.
Today we are praying in the presence of his holy relics, along with relics from two other great protectors of the immigrants in America — St. Frances Xavier Cabrini and St. Toribio Romo.
We ask their prayers today, their intercession.
My brothers and sisters, the saints are with you and the Church is with you. And our country needs you. America needs your gifts and talents.
I pray that you will always be proud of “who you are” and “where you came from.” And let us continue to do everything we can to help build up this great nation that we have come to call our home.
Out of many, we are one. This is the promise of America.
And we have a reflection of this beautiful vision in the great feast we celebrate today in the Church — Corpus Christi — the Body and Blood of Christ.
St. Paul tells us today in our second reading: “Brothers and sisters: … The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the Body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”
My brothers and sisters, in the Cross of Jesus Christ — and in the Eucharist — we are made one. One family, one Body.
This is God’s dream for his children — for every one of us. This is the beautiful dream that we renew and celebrate in every Eucharist.
And the mission of the Church is to build the Body of Christ. That is your mission and my mission.
We are called to bring people with joy to Jesus. We are called to gather the peoples of this world — into one family. The Body of Christ.
In the Body of Christ, we are no longer strangers. We meet one another as friends. We meet “others” — as brothers, as sisters.
But right now, our human family is divided. We are many. But we are not yet one.
Even here in America, in the richest nation on earth, we see that the distance is growing wider — between those who have what they need to live, and those who do not.
All over the world, we see people being forced to leave their homelands — looking to find safety from violence or to find food for their families. Again, even here in America, we are seeing more and more people who have no homes and are living on the streets.
This is the reality of our human family in these times of globalization. These are the signs of our times. And as Christians, we cannot remain indifferent!
The beautiful mystery of Corpus Christi means that we have a duty to care for others, to show compassion. In Jesus Christ, we are one body. And when one member of the body is suffering, it means we all suffer.
This year again, as we celebrate this Mass for all immigrants, we know that our country is still divided over immigration. And we know that many of our brothers and sisters are still suffering — many of you who are here today.
So today we pray to see things with the eyes of Jesus, with the eyes of the saints. We pray to see our lives always in the light of this great feast of Corpus Christi.
Jesus told us that he would be present in the poor — just as he is present in the Eucharist.
And Jesus told us that if we love him, then we will welcome him and serve him — in the homeless and the immigrant; in the sick and the suffering; in the child waiting to be born; in the prisoner hoping for a second chance.
So today we pray to keep that perspective. Our lives are connected, woven together in the Body of Christ!
Let us pray for our country today. May we know peace and security and freedom in our borders, and may our children be blessed. Let us pray for our leaders in Washington and all those who serve our country in government and law enforcement.
Let us dedicate ourselves — all of us — to the beautiful promise of America! Out of many, we can be one! We will be one!
The beautiful words of Jesus that we hear today in the Gospel are a promise of hope, a promise of new life:
“Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.”
So, my brothers and sisters, let us live because of Jesus — for Jesus and from Jesus. Let us live to follow him, to do his will. To carry on his mission. To build the Body of Christ and the family of God.
Let us dedicate ourselves — all of us — to the beautiful promise of America! Out of many — we can be one! We will be one!
And may Our Lady of Guadalupe — our hope and our Mother — help us to build the next America, and renew the soul of our society.