Homily — Mass in Recognition of All Immigrants
Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
September 20, 2020
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We gather “virtually” today, looking ahead to the World Day of Migrants and Refugees next Sunday. We gather to praise God our Father and celebrate our identity as children of God whom he has called from every nation and race to build his Kingdom here in our country.
And our Lord in the Gospel today is speaking to us about the meaning of our lives, and about his plan for the world.
“The kingdom of heaven,” he says, “is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.”
Jesus Christ is telling us today that this world he has created for us is like a vineyard. He is telling us today that our lives have a purpose in his plan of love.
St. Paul says today in the second reading: “For to me life is Christ … If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.”
My dear brothers and sisters, this is the meaning of our lives. We belong to God. He gives us life so that we can serve Christ, so that we can labor and bear fruit in his vineyard, which is the Kingdom that he has planted and is growing in the world.
God is One and the human race that he created is one! But he creates us as “many” — many races, many nationalities, many languages, and ethnic cultures.
We are “many” because God delights in all this variety and diversity, he loves all these colors and cultures of peoples. No one, not any one of us, is the same as anyone else. That’s because God loves each of us as a totally unique creation.
And yet, for all this diversity that we can see in God’s vineyard, we are still one. One people, one family.
In his preaching, St. Paul used to tell people that God made the world and everything in it, and that he is Lord over every nation on earth. And we are all his offspring, his children.
My brothers and sisters, in this moment in God’s vineyard in America, I think this is a powerful message that our Lord is calling us to bring to our neighbors.
Right now, my brothers and sisters, there is a passionate and powerful conversation going on in America about racism.
This conversation is of course important for all of us, and as Pope Francis says in his message for this year’s Day of Migrants and Refugees: “Building the Kingdom of God is a duty common to all Christians, and for this reason it is necessary that we learn to cooperate, without yielding to the temptation to jealousy, discord and division”
In this moment, I believe God is calling our immigrant Church to be a light to our immigrant nation.
He is calling us to proclaim what St. Paul proclaimed, what the Catholic Church has proclaimed since the day of Pentecost — the unity of the nations, the universality of salvation. The mercy and forgiveness of God that is available to every person, of every nation under heaven.
Our great nation still needs to hear this good news! That no matter what the color of your skin, or the blood of your race, or the language you speak — you are a child of God. And Jesus Christ died for you, offered his body and blood for you.
In Christ we have one love, one hope, one destiny. And in Christ, we have one calling. We are called to this beautiful duty to live for him and to share his teaching, to bear fruit for his vineyard, his Kingdom.
So, my brothers and sisters, no matter who you are or how you came here, today once more he is sending you into his vineyard. We have a responsibility — as immigrants, as Catholics, as sons and daughters who love this great nation of immigrants.
He is sending each of us into this vineyard in this moment to labor for unity and justice, for the right to life, for equal opportunity and freedom for every person.
And my brothers and sisters, our labor in the vineyard starts “within,” it starts inside each one of us. We need to root out all the intolerance and envy and selfishness from our hearts. That’s one of the messages of the Gospel that we hear today.
Let’s ask for the grace to love with a generous love, to show the same mercy and forgiveness to others as God shows to us.
We need to build strong communities and strong families, we need to raise up our children to love and serve the Lord. I dream of a local Church where we have vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life coming from every race and nationality to serve all people!
So, brothers and sisters, this is the great mission that we have as Catholics, as the Church in this moment. Let us go out today into his vineyard, and let us renew our country in the beautiful vision of God, and make America truly a home for peoples of all nations and races.
Readings (25th Sunday in Ordinary Time): Isa. 55:6–9; Ps. 145:2–3, 8–9, 17–18; Phil. 1:20–24, 27; Matt. 20:1–16.