Homily — City of Saints
Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
St. Monica Church
Los Angeles, California
August 1, 2020
My brothers and sisters in Christ,
I have to say that this is a different City of Saints. But still it’s beautiful, especially because we are together at the altar of the Lord for the celebration of Holy Mass. And we offer this Mass especially for all of you who are accompanying us today in the celebration of Mass.
So our Gospel today gives us a beautiful picture of Jesus.
He’s tired, he’s sad about the death of John the Baptist, and all he wants to do is to go off and be by himself and pray. But the people are following him, and it’s a huge crowd. They’re thirsty, they’re hungry; it’s late and they’re a long way from home.
Then we heard that beautiful line: “His heart was moved to pity for them.” This is beautiful because Jesus has such a tender love for every person. For all of them, gather before him but also for you and for me. All of us! Every single person.
So, Jesus is moved with compassion and he wants to feed these people. And it takes a miracle because they only have five loaves and two fish.
But Jesus uses this occasion, not just to satisfy the hunger of this crowd. He uses this moment to teach us about the miracle of the Eucharist.
As I am sure you noticed, in the Gospel story, Jesus takes bread, he says a blessing; then he breaks the bread, and gives it to his disciples. He did all those same things at the Last Supper. We hear those same words every time we celebrate the Eucharist.
My brothers and sisters, Jesus wants to give you, all of us, his life. He wants to be your friend, your brother. He wants to make you holy.
This is why he gave his Body and Blood for you on the Cross. This is why he gives us his Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist. Jesus loves us so much that he wants to be our daily bread!
And as Jesus feeds us, so he is calling us to go out and feed others.
As we all know, at this time, the world around us, is hurting. This pandemic has changed everything, turned everything upside down.
We know that people are devastated, they’re hurting, they’re afraid. And in the middle of this plague and in the months to come, Jesus is calling his Church to go out and heal his people and rebuild his world.
Then, at the same time, we’ve learned that it’s hard to be isolated from our friends and loved ones. We also have learned that it’s hard to be separated from the Church, from the Eucharist, from the Sacrament of Reconciliation. That’s because we have inside of us — this hunger for something more than material things.
But my dear friends, let’s ask for the grace to never, ever take our Christian vocation for granted. We know what it’s like to have to live without it — so let’s never, ever again take for granted the great gift that we have in the Holy Eucharist.
The Eucharist, as we know, is the center and root of our Christian life. St. John Paul II said: “The Eucharist is the secret of my day. It gives strength and meaning to all my activities of service to the Church and the world.”
And I wanted to share with you that I have these words of St. John Paul II with me all the time. And I hope that you also keep them with you all the time.
The Eucharist is the secret.
It’s true, we know that God will help us to overcome this situation with the coronavirus pandemic.
St. Paul tells us in today’s beautiful words from the second reading of today’s Mass: nothing can separate us from the love of God ‘in Christ Jesus our Lord’ — not persecution or disease, nothing.
And Jesus, my dear brothers and sisters, is calling us to have the same heart as he does — a heart that’s moved with pity and compassion. He tells his disciples in the Gospel today, “You yourselves, you give them something to eat.”
He’s talking to me and he’s talking to you! We’re the ones responsible for the Church’s mission! We need to go out into this world and share this bread that we’ve been given, to share our faith in Jesus Christ, to share his love, his tenderness, his mercy.
I guess the questions is: how are we going to do it? Here is the secret: Jesus alone will satisfy us. Money won’t satisfy us, material things, entertainment. At the end of the day, these things always leave us wanting more.
And my brothers and sisters, if each one of us realizes that, if we believe — really believe — that Jesus is with us, that he is the secret of our lives, then it will help us to really discover the real meaning of our lives.
And this is our mission. If every one of us does this, we can start to change the world — we can make this world a city of saints — by just doing these little works of love, every day.
So, let’s do it! Let’s find little ways, every day to tell people that Jesus is real, that he is the answer they are looking for, that he alone can satisfy our hunger — our hunger for love, for friendship; for meaning and purpose in our lives.
And let’s stay very close to our Blessed Mother Mary, and let’s ask her to help us to follow Jesus, to believe in his promises and to live according to his plan for our life.
[i] Readings (18th Sunday in Ordinary Time): Isa. 55:1–3; Ps. 145:8–9, 15–18; Rom. 8:35, 37–39 ; Matt. 14:13–21.