Homily of Cardinal Justin Rigali
Hispanic Heritage Mass
Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul
October 12, 2009

Dear Friends,

Every year we gather in this Cathedral as testimony of our great faith and Hispanic heritage. We gather to give thanks to God for always walking with us and being by our side. By means of our faith, which is a gift from God, we experiment a great feeling of hope and justice. We know that united we can overcome the difficulties that present themselves in our every day lives. On this day we are happy because we are surrounded by our brothers and sisters and we can feel the love radiate, the warmth of being together celebrating our unity, our solidarity as brothers united by our faith and our Hispanic language. ##M[read more]##

The first reading today speaks to us of wisdom and its gifts, which are obtained only through prayer. Wisdom is a gift from God and for this reason the Book of Wisdom prepares the way for the authors of the New Testament to reveal the Wisdom of God, Jesus Christ. The gospel today challenges us as it surely challenged the rich young man whom the Lord sent away to sell everything he had and give the money to the poor. Many of our people have very little money or possessions; more value is placed on family and friends. But, just as this rich young man, we all seek to know which is the best way to reach God.

Each one must look inside themselves and ask, which are the treasures or possessions that our Lord is asking us to sell first, in order to follow him. The Lord is not only referring to money. Many times we have other treasures that we save and they cause us harm, what the Lord is asking of us goes far beyond money. Perhaps we harbor a grudge, we are not capable of forgiving our brother, we do not want to get involved in the injustices that our brothers suffer. We look the other way and let others help and get involved It is precisely at this moment that the Lord looks at us with love and tells us: “Go and sell everything and put yourself at the disposition of others, at the service of others.” Jesus, more than anything is proposing to the young man to follow a different path, to adopt a different way In order to be free to follow and imitate Him.

My dear friends, all you have to do is look around you to see the needs that surround us. The suffering of so many brothers and sisters in our own Church that beg us, that challenges us to do justice. For this reason, just as He did with the rich young man, Jesus asks us also to follow another way and imitate Him observing the commandments of justice and mercy. The Lord is challenging us to put ourselves at the disposition of those who suffer hunger, of those that are abandoned, of those that have left their families behind because they were deported, of those that are homeless with no place were to lay their heads.

We have been enriched by God in order to respond to all these challenges that await us and at the same time, God calls us to recognize these as opportunities to serve his people, the Church. We must free ourselves from everything that hinders us to serve as Christ wants. Sell all that you have, the Lord reminds us that happiness does not consist on leaving everything, but rather becoming free of everything in order to surrender to Christ and serve our brothers in imitation of Him. Matthew, in his gospel chapter 25 reminds us of the kingdom prepared for those who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit those in prison, care for the sick, all in His holy name. Scripture tells us that the righteous will say: “When, Lord, did we see you hungry and fed you, or thirsty and give you to drink? When did we ever see you a stranger and welcome you in our homes, or naked and clothe you? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you? The King will reply, ‘I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me!.’ Mt. 25: 34-40

My dear friends, the Holy Spirit has gathered us here in this sacred place to celebrate and share our faith and our love in Jesus Christ. Our God speaks to us in many ways during the liturgy and this is why we must allow our minds and our hearts to open themselves to the transforming love of God. In this liturgy today we want to elevate our prayers in favor of the needy, our undocumented brothers, asking our just Father to inspire us to work for justice, always remembering that Christ is the fountain of peace and healing. Let us remember that our God is a God of mercy and as a people who suffer many injustices we must constantly elevate our incessant prayer to Him.

Let us have confidence that our God listens to the clamor and prayer of His people. Jesus, our brother, walks with His people. I pray that the Holy Spirit, who gathered you here today, strengthens your faith and moves you to proclaim justice to a suffering world. May all of us united as Church be a beacon of light for our brothers and for the entire world.

We remember today the document of Aparecida from the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops’ conference, in Brazil. The article on the Action of Giving Thanks to God, #26 which reminds us that: In the light of Christ, suffering, injustice, and the cross challenge us to live as Samaritan Church (cf. Lk 10:25-37), recalling that “evangelization has always developed alongside the promotion of the human person and authentic Christian liberation.” We give thanks to God and we rejoice at the characteristic faith, solidarity, and joy of our peoples passed down over the years by grandmothers and grandfathers, mothers and fathers, catechist, prayer leaders, and countless anonymous people whose charity has kept hope alive in the midst of injustices and adversities.

It is important to remember that the suffering of the people is never in vain because united we all form one family in Christ. This gives us hope for the future because it helps us to remember that each one of us is made in the image and likeness of God. Each one of us is a gift from God to the world and each one is special. We are of different races and cultures, but we are much more. We are followers of a unique God, who allows us to recognize and embrace our cultural spanersity as true children of the God that calls us day after day asking us to follow Him, to be His disciples by serving Him and one another.

Brothers and sisters, I pray that Mary, our Mother, Mother of God and Mother of us all bless you always and may she cover you with her motherly mantle today and always.