AS HOLY DOORS CLOSED TODAY AT CATHEDRAL, MISSION OF MERCY THROUGHOUT THE ARCHDIOCESE CONTINUES WITH LAUNCH OF MERCY FUND AND BY YOUR SIDE LA
SoCal faithful to start nine days of prayer tomorrow leading up to Giving Tuesday
As the Jubilee Year of Mercy comes to an end today, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is launching the Mercy Fund to support the work of chaplains in prisons and hospitals, and “By Your Side LA,” an outreach to women and men affected by abortion, to continue and expand the mission of mercy throughout the Church in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
“This Year of Mercy has been a special blessing for all of us here in Los Angeles – a time for rediscovering the great love that God has for us as our heavenly Father and the importance of living with love and mercy towards our brothers and sisters,” said Archbishop Gomez. “As we close the Year of Mercy we want to give thanks to God for his love and we want to rededicate ourselves to being missionaries of his mercy – in our homes, in the places where we work, and in every area of our society.”
During a special Mass today, celebrated by Archbishop José H. Gomez, hundreds gathered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels to conclude the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Faithful attending the Mass processed outside after Communion led by Archbishop Gomez to the Cathedral Plaza for a final blessing and closing of the “Archway of Mercy.” Today at the 20 pilgrimage churches of the Archdiocese and all Catholic Cathedrals and churches in the world will close their Holy Doors.
Faithful of the Archdiocese celebrated the Year of Mercy by visiting pilgrimage churches, seeking mercy through confession and reconciliation, visiting the incarcerated and sick, and giving of their time for service projects. Priests and Bishops of the Archdiocese held special events such as “Mercy in the Streets,” where they would evangelize and listen to confessions in neighborhoods. The Cathedral and many parishes organized multiple “Mercy Nights,” for faithful to gather and listen to speakers share stories of giving and receiving mercy.
“Mercy ministries, work with people when they are suffering and vulnerable, to bring them the healing love of God,” said Dan Coonan, Executive Director of the Archdiocese Office of Development. “The Mercy Fund will help breathe new life and greater sustainability into a few of the most compelling mercy ministries it sponsors.”
The Mercy Fund will support the Office of Restorative Justice, which provides comfort, healing and hope to over 120,000 people annually in detention facilities, their families and victims, and our Hospital Ministries, which ministers to the sick and dying at the 12 Catholic Hospitals and 9 Catholic Senior Care facilities throughout the Archdiocese.
“By Your Side LA” is a healing ministry for women and men who are hurting after having an abortion. Through volunteers called “merciful companions,” those affected by an abortion will be offered spiritual support to find God’s love and forgiveness. For more information on By Your Side LA, visit http://byyoursidela.org/.
As part of the inauguration of the Mercy Fund and By Your Side LA, on Monday, November 21, faithful throughout the tri-county Archdiocese will begin nine days of prayer leading up to Giving Tuesday, a world-wide day to encourage giving to worthwhile charities.
For more information on how to give please visit http://adladevelopment.org/the-mercy-fund/.
NOTE: Please see Archbishop Gomez’s homily below.
Homily – Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe and
Conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercyi
Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
November 20, 2016
My dear brothers and sisters,
Today, we join our Holy Father Pope Francis and our brothers and sisters all over the world in celebrating the closing of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
This jubilee year has been a joyful time for the whole family of God here in Los Angeles and throughout the universal Church.
For me, it has been beautiful to see so many people coming to rediscover God’s presence and tenderness in our lives. We have seen people going to confession and “coming home” to the practice of the faith, including people who have been far away from the Church for many years. So thanks be to God!
It has also been a blessing for me to see so many people in the Church doing the works of mercy — sharing the Gospel and serving the poor and the homeless; visiting prisoners and the sick; reaching out to help immigrants and refugees.
So today, all over the world, we are closing the “holy doors” that have been open throughout this jubilee year. At the conclusion of this Mass, we will process through the “Archway of Mercy” one last time.
The Year of Mercy is ending — but we must make this ending a new beginning. A new moment to begin again — in our lives, in our Church and in the world.
We need to make the spirit of mercy become the spirit of our age, the spirit of our society.
And it all begins with us, my brothers and sisters. It begins with you and with me. We need to make mercy our identity as Christians. We need to be people of mercy, missionaries of mercy. We need to come together with our neighbors to build a society of mercy, a Kingdom of Mercy.
In the second reading that we heard this morning, St. Paul tells us to pray. He says:
“Let us give thanks to the Father. … He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” 2
My brothers and sisters, this is what God intends for our lives — for all of our lives. Each one of us has been saved, each one of us has been delivered. We have known the mercy of God and the forgiveness of sins.
So we live now as God’s children, his sons and daughters. We live now in “the kingdom of his beloved Son.”
It is the last Sunday of the Church year and as we know, always on this last Sunday we celebrate Jesus Christ as the King.
I know this royal language is sometimes hard for us to relate to. In fact here in this country, people have always been suspicious about kings and royalty. So what does it mean for us to say that Jesus Christ is our King?
We have that scene in the Gospel today — Our Lord Jesus Christ, hanging on the cross. He is being mocked by the rulers, by the soldiers, and even by a thief who is being crucified next to him.
My brothers and sisters, this is the picture of our King.
Why is Jesus on that cross? It’s not because he did something “criminal.” He is on that cross for you and for me. His is on that cross to save us.
The cross is the true throne of Christ. And he hangs on that cross to reveal the mercy of God. Jesus Christ is the King who rules by mercy.
Mercy is not the same thing as pity. Pity means feeling sorry for someone. That is different than mercy. Because when we feel sorry for someone, we are kind of standing on the outside of a situation — looking in. There is a “distance” between us and the person we feel pity for.
Pity is an emotion. But mercy is a journey, a movement of the heart.
Mercy begins when we open our hearts to be touched by the misery, by the suffering and sorrow, of somebody else.
Mercy cuts to the heart and mercy leads us to action — to solidarity and compassion. Mercy leads us to want to share in the suffering of others — to suffer with the suffering. To share in their humanity.
There is that beautiful line in the first reading we heard this morning. The people come to David to anoint him as their king and they tell him; “Here we are, your bone and your flesh.”
That is what we see on the Cross. Jesus shares in our humanity. He suffers with us and for us. 3
Jesus became our flesh and our bone. He was God and yet he became a man — to share in our sorrows, our struggles, our joys. He loved with a human heart, he worked with human hands. In fact, the Gospels tell us he worked so hard some days and was so tired that the apostles couldn’t wake him up when he was sleeping. I think we all know what that feels like.
There are so many “human details” about Jesus in the Gospels. He was our bone and our flesh. And he did all this — for you and for me. To show us the mercy of God, to show us his love and the forgiveness of sins.
He did all this because he wants to be close to us, because he wants to live with us and walk with us and to lead us to heaven.
My brothers and sisters, the Kingdom of Jesus is the Kingdom of Mercy. And we are all “subjects” of that Kingdom, children of God. And we have a mission — to be missionary disciples. To make his kingdom grow, to share the mercy and love of God with our neighbors, with our society.
I worry all the time that we are becoming a society with no mercy.
When we listen to how we talk to one another — we don’t seem to have respect for other people, especially people who have different opinions.
We don’t seem to be able to sympathize with the humanity of others — especially people who are different from us. Think about how we treat the poor and the homeless, the elderly who is sick, the criminal in jail, the immigrant who has no “papers.”
Every person we meet is a child of God, a brother or a sister. Do we treat every person that way? Do we treat every person the way we want to be treated?
That’s what this Year of Mercy is all about. And that is why we cannot let this year end. We need to work to bring a new spirit of mercy — into our lives, into our Church and into our society.
Today we are announcing two new ministries of mercy here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles that I hope will be a permanent legacy of this Year of Mercy.
The first is an outreach to women who have had abortions that is called “By Your Side LA.” We want to reach out with “merciful companions” and help these women to find God’s love and forgiveness. Also today we are starting a new “Mercy Fund,” that will support the work of our chaplains in prisons and hospitals.
You can find out more about these programs in our magazine Angelus and also on our website. And I hope you will pray for these new programs and become volunteers and supporters. 4
i Readings: 2 Sam. 5:1–3; Ps. 122:1–5; Col. 1:12–20; Luke 23:35–
My brothers and sisters, Jesus says today in the Gospel: “My kingdom does not belong to this world.”
And that is true. His kingdom does not have a territory, an army or a fortress. His kingdom is a kingdom of the heart. And his kingdom grows — heart by heart. One merciful heart at a time.
So let us open our hearts again today to experience the mercy of God. Let us commit ourselves to being merciful to others — as God has been merciful to us.
I wish all of you a blessed Thanksgiving this week, with your family and loved ones, and let’s keep praying for one another this week.
And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help us — today and every day — to make mercy the way of our lives.