Celebrating the Holy Mass of Cultures last Saturday at Los Angeles' Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Archbishop Jose Gomez also marked the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In his homily, the archbishop taught that the authentic source of universal brotherhood and world peace is found in Christ, who assembles his Church as “the family of God.”
A true harmony of peoples, he explained, is established by God's universal call to the communion of the Church, which incorporates men and women “of every country, race, and language.”
The archdiocese's annual Holy Mass of Cultures featured songs and dances performed by different ethnic communities, including a Polish folk dance group, African dancers and drummers, and Indonesian musicians. Two police officers also placed a flag and candle next to the altar in memory of the 9/11 victims.
In his homily, the archbishop taught that only the universal fatherhood of God, revealed by the Son of God and established in the Church by the Holy Spirit, can form humanity into a family and overcome the world's divisions.
The events of September 11, 2001, he recalled, were a tragic demonstration of these human conflicts. It was “a sad day in our nation's history … in which the truth of our common humanity was violated in a terrible way.” But God, the archbishop pointed out, brings good out of acts that people intend for evil.
“We know,” he said, citing St. Paul's letter to the Romans, “in everything God works for good with those who love him.” In that light, Archbishop Gomez explained, the attacks of 9/11 can be understood as an opportunity to rediscover the message of the Gospel in the wake of tragedy.
“It is we who must ensure that the purposes of God are brought from this evil,” he announced. “The blood of the innocent shed by the aggressors on that day must become the seed of new commitments to peace and understanding among peoples and religions, a renewed and authentic love of country, and a new dedication to God.”
The memory of those who died on 9/11, he emphasized, should inspire citizens “to build a new America, an America that is strong, confident, compassionate, and virtuous … an America that is always grateful and humble before God.”
“Without God,” he continued, “we have no foundation for our common humanity. If God is not our Father, then how can we be brothers and sisters?”
The Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles highlighted the diversity of his city's Catholic community, as an example of many cultures finding harmony in the one Church. “In the communion of cultures here,” he illustrated, “we see what God wants for the whole world.” Archbishop Gomez observed, “men and women from nearly every nation under heaven, joined in worshiping and serving God.”
He also called attention to the life of Blessed Mother Teresa, whose 100th birthday was commemorated in August, as an example of how Christ works to unify peoples and cultures.
Born in Albania, “she went to India, to the poorest of the poor … she chose a place on earth where there were virtually no Catholics. And she made friends with Protestants, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and atheists,” Archbishop Gomez recounted.
“She said something that I think has a special meaning for us this morning. She said: 'By blood I am an Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the heart of Jesus.'”
“My brothers and sisters,” he announced, “this is a beautiful description of what it means to be a child of God and a Catholic.”
Within the family of God, he stressed, each individual has a significant vocation, and a duty to bring Christ's love to the world. “Our good God expects great and beautiful fruits from each of us,” Archbishop Gomez concluded. “So let us offer to him in everything we do, the good fruits of holiness and love, as we seek the harvest of justice.”