God “sees a reflection of himself” in all persons, Washington Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl preached to members of the disabled and deaf communities, as well as those facing mental health challenges.
“Just as all of us are created by God as we are, and all of us have a place at the table of the Lord through baptism, so those with special needs bring their own particular gifts to the Church and to our celebration today,” Cardinal Wuerl said during the homily of the Oct. 20 Mass honoring the gifts granted to those with special needs in the Archdiocese of Washington.
All persons, he added, “lay claim to his love in that divine Spirit within us that we received in baptism and that manifests itself in so many diverse, challenging, and yet real, ways.”
The fourth annual Washington D.C. White Mass, named for the white garments attendees were encouraged to wear as a reminder of their baptism, was said at the city's Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.
The Mass brings together persons with special needs, including family members and ministry staff, as well as leaders from various special needs communities, and was translated into American Sign Language. Those at the Mass renewed their baptismal promises after the homily.
“Each and every one of us, created by God, is a unique reflection of his infinite magnificence, his majesty in glory,” Cardinal Wuerl explained, adding that all of creation reflects God “in its own individual way.”
“In all our diversity we are wondrously made, and God rejoices in his creation” the cardinal continued, noting that God has found “everything, and every one, that he has created,” to be “very good,” and we should recognize God’s view of his creations.
To demonstrate his point, Cardinal Wuerl compared God’s creation to a mosaic containing “thousands and thousands of pieces of colored glass.” Each piece “has a color, a shape, a design, a texture all of its own.”
“No two pieces are alike. And so it is with us, and God’s creative plan.”
Not only is man made in God’s image, but God has “became one of us” in order to adopt us into his family through Christ and baptism in him, the cardinal said.
“Each one of us now has a position at the table of the Lord.”
While those with special needs are equal in dignity, they have special gifts which with to bless the Church, the Cardinal said.
“Each of us is in need of the other, and each of us is enriched by the others, and we depend upon and are complemented by others.”
The cardinal continued, adding “that in their own way, that those that have various mental and physical challenges, are enriched by the kindness of other people, that they in return, give to all of us the ability to see in them the face of God.”
Each person, with special needs or without, represents one of “many many manifestations of God’s love,” and is “called to give witness to the love of Jesus in this world,” Cardinal Wuerl said.
“If we’re not able to use words, we can smile for Jesus, if we cannot use our legs we can hold each others’ hands, if we speak to the world in American Sign Language, we can tell our friends that they too are invited to celebrate the joy of the family of God.”
“Our celebration today here is a simple one with a very very simple message,” Cardinal Wuerl said, concluding his homily.
“God looked on everything that he made, God looked on every one of us in this cathedral church, and he smiled, and he found that it was all very good.”