My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I feel very honored to be with you this morning. I bring greetings from the family of God in City of Angels.
The Church of Los Angeles is the largest Catholic community in the country. We are a global church, immigrant, made up of people from all over the world. We have about 5 million Catholics and every day we pray, we celebrate the divine worship and offer our services in over 40 different languages.
Franciscan missionaries who founded Los Angeles gave our city the name of the Mother of God, Queen of Angels.
One of those missionaries was San Junípero Serra, our newest American saint. He emigrated from Spain and came to this country after living more than a decade in Mexico.
In his time, the colonial government of California there were many who denied the full humanity of indigenous peoples living in this land. San Junipero became his advocate. He even wrote a "Bill of Rights" to protect them . And by the way, he wrote that statement three years before the Declaration of Independence of the United States.
Most Americans do not know this story. But Pope Francisco itself.
So when the Pope came to this country in 2015, his first act was to celebrate a solemn Mass in which he canonized San Junipero. He had that Mass, not in Los Angeles, but right here in the capital of the nation.
Pope Francis was emphasizing a point. He thinks we should honor San Junipero as "one of the founding fathers of the United States."
I agree with him. I also think we should. San Junipero remember that the first missionaries and changes the way we remember our national history. It reminds us that the early beginnings of the United States were not political. The first beginnings of this country were spiritual.
The missionaries came here first, long before the Pilgrims, long before George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Long before this country even had a name.
These missionaries along with the colonists and statesmen who came later, laid the spiritual foundations and intellectuals of a nation that remains unique in the history of mankind. One nation under God conceived and committed to promoting human dignity, freedom and flourishing of a variety of peoples, races, ideas and beliefs.
Therefore, this national Red Mass is so important every year. There is a time for politics and a time for prayer. And this is a day for prayer.
Today we recognize, as did the founders of the United States, it is still one nation under God; that their laws still govern the world in which we live; and yet we go forward "with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence".
Today we ask the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and help us to see our duties in the light of the Word of God, in the light of its plans for creation.
The first reading we heard this morning, the story of that first Pentecost reveals the beautiful dream of the Creator for the human race.
As we heard in Jerusalem there were men and women from "every nation under heaven". And the Spirit of God spoke to everyone in their own "native languages".
Let's God's sight, no aliens, no strangers! We are all family. When God looks at us, He sees beyond the color of our skin or where we come from countries or language we speak. God sees only their children made in his image.
My brothers and sisters, the truth is this: Before God made the sun and the moon, before I settled the first star in the sky and it began to fill the oceans with water, before the foundation of the world, God I knew the name of you and mine. And he had a loving plan for our lives.
Every life is sacred and every life has a purpose in God's creation! Each of us is born for great things. This is not just an idea that resonates as something beautiful. This is what Jesus came to teach us ! And we're still trying to learn.
The people who wrote the laws of this country and that have shaped our institutions, understood this teaching. They got on so well that discussed these truths to be "self - evident".
The American founders believed that the only justification for the government is to serve the human person who is created in the image of God; which it is endowed with dignity, rights and responsibilities given by God; and is called by God to a transcendent destiny.
My dear brothers and sisters, you share the responsibility for this great government. The public service is a noble calling. Honesty and courage needed to perform it . It requires caution and humility. And prayer and sacrifice are necessary.
Let us commit ourselves to an America that care for the young and old, poor and sick; a country where the hungry find bread and homeless, a place to live; a country that welcomes immigrants and refugees and to provide a second chance for those in prison.
Of course, we can always talk about the ways in which our nation has failed to fulfill its founding vision. From the beginning, Americans have engaged in passionate discussions about these things, and these conversations are vital to our democracy.
Since the original sin of slavery and cruel mistreatment of native peoples, to our present struggles with racism and nativism, the American dream is still a work in progress.
We have come a long way. But we have not come far enough. That should not give in to cynicism or despair. Despite all our weaknesses and failures, the United States remains a beacon of hope for the peoples of all nations who seek refuge in this country, for freedom and equality under God.
Throughout our history, there have always been men and women of faith who have led movements for justice and social change.
I'm thinking in efforts to abolish slavery and give women the right to vote. I'm thinking of the movement for civil rights in the peasant movement, the peace movement and for the right to life. It was a book by a Catholic worker who helped promote the "war on poverty" in the sixties.
This is why religious freedom is so essential to define who we are as Americans. We should never silence the voices of believers. They connect us to the vision of our founders. Now, more than ever, we need your spirit of seeking peace and non-violent solutions.
In the Gospel we have heard this morning, Jesus comes to his disciples, he shows them his wounds, then "blows" on them.
What we are seeing in this scene is a new creation.
In this passage we heard this morning, Jesus comes to create a new humanity, a new people, formed in the image of His forgiveness and enlivened by the power of his Spirit.
This scene is rich in meaning. When Jesus breathes on his disciples and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Those forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven, and those to whom they are retained, they will be retained , "he is actually giving his Church the power to forgive sins in his name.
But more than that, He is giving us each of us the power to forgive those who trespass against us.
And that power to forgive is the greatest power that men and women have on this Earth. If only we could understand that! Because when we forgive, we are imitating Jesus Christ.
The power to grant pardon and show mercy is the image of God. Forgiving is, in many ways, what makes us fully human.
My dear brothers and sisters, let me conclude by suggesting that forgiveness is part of the unfinished revolution of American society.
Forgiving does not mean forgetting what has happened or excusing what is wrong; It does not mean ignoring what divides us.
True forgiveness sets us free from the cycles of resistance and revenge; It frees us to seek reconciliation and healing.
And this is what we need in America today: a new spirit of compassion and cooperation, a new sense of our common humanity.
We need to treat the "other" as our brothers and sisters. Even those who oppose us or disagree with us. Mercy and love we want is mercy and love that we show our neighbors.
May God bless you all for your service to this great country! And may God bless America!
And our Blessed Mother Mary help us to renew the promise of America. A rededicate ourselves to the truths that our founders entrusted to us. VN