Friday, November 6, 2015

Solemnidad de todos los Santos

¿Quiénes de nosotros quieremos llegar a ser santos? ¿Sabían ustedes que a través de nuestro bautizo hemos sido llamados hacer santos? ¡No es difícil! Solamente es necesario tener una entrega a Jesucristo para caminar con Jesús!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

ANNIVERSARIES MASS HOMILY--Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

“Called to Serve as an Unprofitable Servant”

Homily:  Sunday, November 1, 2015

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony
Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles

Jesus said, “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?  Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat.  Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.  You may eat and drink when I am finished’?  Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?  So should it be with you.  When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’”  [Luke 17:7—10]  

            The Gospel which we just heard is one of my favorites primarily because it has spoken to me so powerfully both as I approached official retirement, and after retiring. 
            Picture in your imagination this servant who has just come in after spending a long and tiring day out in the hot sun tending the farm for his master.  Just what was he doing?  What we are all called to do as laborers in the field:  plowing the fields for a good harvest, or tending the sheep and other animals.  Both are also pastoral activities for us as priests:  plowing the fields, sowing the seeds of faith, cultivating the small plants as they grow in the life of Jesus, weeding the rows from sin and evil.  A marvelous description of what we are called to do in our daily ministry!
            And tending the flocks:  leading the flock to green pastures, finding springs for them to drink, watching over them so that wild animals do not snatch them, looking out for injured or lame sheep, and protecting them—even with our lives.
            Now picture the servant coming back to the main house dirty, tired, hot, and worn out.  He is ready for a good bath, a cool drink, and a hot meal.  He has deserved it.  But Jesus’ story tells us something different.  The servant’s day is not done.  True, his field work is done, but he is called to shift from outside work to indoor work—preparing a meal and drink for his master.  “Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.”  This is not some undue burden; rather, it’s expected of him.  His life is one of service 24/7, as we would say today.
            And only after those duties are completed, does he get to wind down:  “You may eat and drink when I am finished.”  Jesus then adds quite pointedly:  “Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?  So should it be with you.  When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’”
            That’s how I long to be remembered— as an unprofitable servant.  And it is in reality how I actually am remembered by many—a grace for which I give thanks to God.
            When Archbishop José Gomez became our active Archbishop on March 1, 2011, I formally completed my years of toil in the fields and with the flock, and I am accepting God’s invitation to live out my remaining years as his unprofitable servant.
            Our American culture which focuses on “me” and “mine,” a debilitating narcissism that constantly looks inward and not outwards towards others, would compel me and others in priestly ministry to point with pride to our “legacies and our accomplishments.”  But we who are chosen to be men and women in total and self-giving service to our people don’t “do legacies.”  I prefer the image of the servant in the Gospel; I am finishing up one phase of God’s call in my life, and moving on to the next.  Not as a laureate, but as a weak shepherd who happens to want to serve God’s mystery, knowing, as one spiritual writer once put it: “We serve a mystery, and serve it poorly”.
            The true servant of Jesus flees from honors, from recognition, from the absurdity of legacies.  Our goal is to follow Jesus who calls us in ways far different from the values of the world; in Jesus’ words:  “Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” [Matthew 20:28], and “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” [Matthew 16:24].  We don’t find “legacies” in those challenging words or images of Jesus.
            I have often wondered what the servant thought about when it was finally time for him to relax and to have his supper.  I suspect that being a committed servant, he mentally re-traced his day to see which of his work activities were productive, and where he made mistakes—and how to improve tomorrow.
            As I reflect back on my own years of ministry, those words of Jesus resonate so deeply within me:  “…say, ‘We are unprofitable servants.’”  My own failures, sins, and mistakes loom high on the horizon over the span of years, and I feel the helplessness of knowing I can’t turn back the clock and correct them.  While my failures and mistakes are far too many to count, two dark and foreboding clouds hover in the skies above me, and there is nothing I can do to dispel them; they will haunt me until the end of my earthly journey. 
            The first dark cloud was the difficult and impossible clash in the San Joaquin Valley between the farmers and the farmworkers.  Back in the 1960s farmworkers began organizing themselves in order to receive better wages, to improve their working conditions, and to negotiate for benefits which so many other workers took for granted.  All of my efforts to try to bring about reconciliation among the parties brought little success.  Those were frustrating and challenging years for me as I watched my meager efforts dissolve month after month, year after year. 
It is hard for me to re-visit that period of time from 1965 to 1980.  My soul keeps raising the “what if” questions:  what if I had found better paths to bring together growers and workers to recognize the rights of each other?  What if I had been a stronger voice on behalf of the farmworkers in order to help increase their salaries and benefits?  What if I had dared taking more risks in order to be a better instrument of God’s peace and justice?
Instead, I now look back on those years, realizing that any progress was far outdistanced by the paltry efforts which I brought to assist the thousands of poor farmworkers and their families living such difficult and tragic lives.
            The second black and ominous cloud was the scourge of the clergy sexual misconduct of minors.  This dreadful experience proved yet again the fact that I was and remain an unprofitable servant.    
I don’t recall ever hearing about any such clergy misconduct cases during my years in the Diocese of Fresno, 1962 to 1980; in the Diocese of Stockton, I encountered three cases in the year before being named to Los Angeles.  I was stunned to learn that any priest could possibly harm children and youth in this dreadful manner. 
            From 1986 on, however, this unthinkable evil would gradually begin to rise from the murky darkness.  And it would seem to never end.  My early efforts failed to grasp the depth and extent of this sinfulness, and I searched in vain for answers and how best to proceed.  I did not understand how deeply victims of sexual abuse were permanently afflicted; that would only emerge in later years.  Almost daily I proved to be unequal to the task.
            It was not until the early 1990s that several things became clearer:  anyone in ministry who had been credibly found to abuse a minor could never return to ministry; victims needed urgent and continuing pastoral care for years to come; all of our Church apostolates needed to be fully vigilant against allowing anyone to be with children and youth who could possibly be a danger to them.
            But it was those early years of the scandal which are the most haunting for me since my response was not fully that of an apostle of Jesus Christ.  How I wish I could return to those years with today’s understandings and undo all of my mistakes and failures.
             “We have done what we were obliged to do.”  Jesus’ words don’t mean that we have done everything correctly, promptly, and with great wisdom.  Rather, in my case I believe that I did my best to carry out what I was truly obliged to do, and far too often came up very short.  That’s how it is with us humans, fragile vessels of God’s grace.
            But living out my life as an unprofitable servant doesn’t mean there is no value to be found there.  Today’s reading from the Letter to the Hebrews captures well the attitude which must be in all who are disciples of Jesus:  we continue forward as disciples and as workers in the Lord’s fields “while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.”  Everyone is called to lift their eyes from their many mistakes and errors, and keep their focus on the face of Jesus.
            While I have suffered a great deal from my numerous mistakes and omissions, still I don’t meet the high standard in Hebrews:  “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.”  That’s true:  my name and reputation have been under attack over the years now—as befits a fallible minister of Christ’s grace—but so far, I have been spared shedding my blood for Jesus.
            I am reminded that discipline is one tool which the Master uses to correct the unprofitable servant; and discipline can lead to humility, a virtue which becomes a strong anchor for servants who are yet called by Jesus to become his friends.   St. Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises discusses our call to imitate the humility of Jesus who emptied himself of God’s glory and took up our human nature.  But Ignatius points out that sometimes Jesus calls us to the deeper kind of humility—humiliation.  It has become ever clearer in my own life journey that public humiliation often becomes an essential aspect of living as a follower of Jesus.  This is the prayer which Ignatius places on our reluctant lips: 
“I desire and choose poverty with Christ poor, rather than riches; insults with Christ loaded with them, rather than honors; I desire to be accounted as worthless and a fool for Christ, rather than to be esteemed as wise and prudent in this world.  So Christ was treated before me.” [No. 167]
            Flawed servants of Jesus are not pessimists nor fatalists.  Rather, we must be people of the joy, hope, and mercy of Jesus Christ as we live out our lives and our ministry.   We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and our hearts on the call of Isaiah in our first Scripture:  “The Lord has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, release to the prisoners, … to comfort all who mourn;”  [Isaiah 61:1-3]
            And we unprofitable servants of Jesus are in good company:  moving among the sick, the abandoned, the struggling, the outcasts, the undocumented, the abused, and the maligned.  That’s where we belong.
            Not everyone is called to serve Jesus as an unprofitable servant.  I feel blessed to be included in that group, and each day in retirement I am finding new and ever more exciting ways to be of service to the Lord staying on the periphery and in the shadows with those who feel the weight and burdens of being on the margins—but also, with those most loved by Jesus.    
            Today we celebrate All Saints’ Day, a feast-day made more real for us with our Cathedral’s 25 beautiful tapestries featuring 125 men and women who lived out their discipleship with Jesus in heroic fashion.  My personal patron saint, St. Joseph, is the first one in this tapestry on this wall.  If there was ever a saint whose life was that of a humble servant, it was Joseph.  He lived out his life in total obedience to God’s will.  We see him confront several difficult challenges in that life—taking in marriage an unwed mother; fleeing into Egypt when his family is under a death sentence; moving to a new town to start all over again.  No recorded words remain; no description of his years at Nazareth.  No recounting of his death and burial.  Joseph simply fades from the pages of salvation history.  Like a devoted servant.
            As we look about these tapestries, we can easily recall many more examples of men and women whose lives and ministries were filled with mistakes, opposition, ridicule, rejection, personal humiliation, suffering, torture, and death.  A good number of them in their own day would surely have considered themselves unprofitable servants.
            Today I am grateful to God for this special vocation, but I am also grateful to my brother Bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians, and lay ministers and wonderful people who have accepted me despite my failings, and who have sustained me through their prayers and support along the journey towards the fullness of the Kingdom of God.
            I earnestly request your continuing prayers for me and for all of those gathered here this afternoon.  Each one of you has shared our faith journeys together especially in this portion of the Lord’s Vineyard.  
            When it’s your time to come in from the fields of active ministry, hopefully you, too, will find the inner peace and joy I have experienced.  Remember, the same Jesus who told us to say, to proclaim, to shout:  “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do,” also lovingly says to us, as he did to his disciples, “ I no longer call you servants but my friends and companions.”

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Today in Washington DC Pope Francis spoke to the U.S. Congress with a brilliant and uplifting Address.  Read it in its entirety to capture the depth and the inspiration of his sentiments and words.
Please find below excerpts from his heart-felt appeal to all of us to open our hearts and lives to our immigrant brothers and sisters, especially those living among us in the USA.  In addition, he urged us to continue to be a nation which continues to assist the world's millions of refugees in their escape from terrorism, conflict, hunger, and fear.  His words:
"In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom.  We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.  I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants.  Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected.  For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation.  
Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present.  Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past.  We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us.  Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best.  I am confident that we can do this.
Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War.  This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions.  On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities.  Is this not what we want for our own children?  
We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation.  To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal.  We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome.  Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).
This Rule points us in a clear direction.  Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated.  Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves.  Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves.  In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.  The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.  The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development."

[View the Pope's entire Address to Congress: ]

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


It is a great joy and grace to be in Washington DC and to witness Pope Francis arrive for the first time in our country.

He comes to us as the Successor of Peter and as the Vicar of Christ.  But he also brings with him a message straight from the Gospels of Jesus Christ:  open your hearts and lives, be embraced by the love and mercy of God!

Pope Francis as our Pope is doing two amazing things:  first, he is calling each of us to a deeper life in Jesus, and urging us to imitate in our lives the words and actions of Jesus during his life and ministry.  And secondly, he is calling us as members of His Body, the Church, to be more authentic, welcoming, and inclusive in reaching out to all peoples--especially the poor and those on the fringes of society.

People ask me all the time:  "What kind of Church is Pope Francis proposing for us?"  The answer is simple:  the Church of the Acts of the Apostles.  Pick up your Bible, and begin re-reading slowly the Acts of the Apostles--and you will see unfolding the community of believers where the focus is on the local level:  parishes and Dioceses.  The Second Vatican Council called this subsidiarity--decisions and actions are best taken at the lowest level possible.

I am particularly interested in listening as Pope Francis challenges us--members of a nation of immigrants--to welcome the newest wave of immigrants and refugees to our shores.

Let us join our prayers in welcoming Pope Francis, and in opening our hearts and souls to his inspiring call to love, mercy, acceptance, and welcome!

Thursday, May 21, 2015


The Los Angeles City Council has voted to increase the minimum wage in the City to $15 per hour by the year 2020.  Thirty years ago when I first became Archbishop of Los Angeles, I would never have thought it necessary to take such an enormous leap in low-end worker salaries.

Not any more.

There are many reasons for the hike, but two of them are really important:

1.     In past years, minimum wage jobs were also relatively short-term jobs.  They were meant for young people working part-time or others just entering the job market.  No one expected such jobs to be long-term and permanent work.  These jobs were to get a foothold in the work field, and then to move on to better middle class jobs.

2.     The number of next level, middle class, jobs across southern California have all but disappeared.  Recall after the Second World War how our area became a great leader in aerospace and defense companies.  Hundreds of thousands of people were employed in these good paying, middle class jobs over the years.  But gradually, because of many factors, those companies and those jobs began to disappear.

The result?  People desperate to provide for their families are increasingly stuck in low-paying jobs, most paying at or below minimum wage.  This is particularly true for our immigrant brothers and sisters.  There are no "better jobs" to move on to.

And it's not just the wages.  Minimum wage jobs almost never offer benefits such as health care, retirement plans, or other amenities from previous generations.  Many companies limit the hours for such employees in order to avoid having to pay for medical insurance.  Shifting schedules makes it difficult for such workers to get to other low-wage jobs, or to take some classes.

Another worrying result is the rapid expansion of low-income families, and increasing wealth of high-income families, and the narrowing group in the middle.

The real issue is not just about minimum wage jobs.  Rather, our goal must be to look for ways to narrow this growing gap between people at the top and those at the bottom.

The gap is not only economic.  In so many places across the country, it is also a racial divide.  Studies show that the minority communities of our country consistently remain on the lower rung of the economic ladder.  Both divides need our focused attention, and I hope that the 2016 Presidential candidates will engage our country in this discussion--and that they be required to lay out concrete plans to ease the divide and to provide greater economic opportunity for everyone.

Just a few areas might help move us in the right direction.  Home ownership has always been a past measure of success for our families.  We need to make home ownership more readily available to all of our people--through new qualification parameters, lower down payments, and other means that do not jeopardize either the families or the economy.

Most lower paying jobs offer no pension plan opportunities.  Even if companies offered a very simple plan these families could begin acquiring some equity for the future.

Social Security could raise the cap on payroll taxes so that the more affluent can contribute their fair share into the plan which will benefit them.

The City of Los Angeles plan will go a long way to help our poorer families.  But all of the incorporated cities in Los Angeles County need to match this new increase in the minimum wage for it to have its full effect.  If a company in Los Angeles City just moves a few miles to a small city with a lower minimum wage, then everyone loses.

The widening gap between those at the higher end of our economy and those at the lower end of our economy must return to its former, historic narrow range.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


On Good Friday this year I was privileged to make the Via Crucis, the Way of the Cross, with the parishioners of St. Patrick's Parish in central Los Angeles.

The Stations were written and acted out by young people of the parish.  What made these Stations unique was the integration of the traditional Stations with the realities of their own community.  A brief summary of each of the 14 Stations follows:

1st:     We stopped at an intersection near the Church where where a young man who was mentally disabled was struck and killed by a car as he walked home on Ash Wednesday night from Church; ashes still on his forehead.  Remembrance of senseless accidents.

2nd:     An elementary school was the next stop; reflection on Jesus' care and concern for children in his ministry; remembrance of children suffering in broken or violent homes.

3rd:     Stopped opposite two Botanicas, or drug stores, where in the past sales of drugs took place.

4th:     Next location was a former small church, now covered in graffiti.

5th:     Paused in front of a high school and pondered the love of Jesus for young people, especially those living in barrios.

6th:     Stopped in front of an old hotel--the only place where African-Americans could stay in past years, especially when they were forbidden to stay in all other Los Angeles hotels.  Prayed for an end to racism.

7th:     Next location was next to a new Police Station, prayed for our law enforcement officials to help bring an end to street violence.

8th:     Paused opposition two liquor stores; prayed for an end to alcohol abuse and recovery for all addicted to various substances.

9th:     Stopped in front of one of the dozens of small clothing manufacturing plants where so many parishioners work; considered Jesus working there along side of these men and women.

10th:     Next stop was an ally behind clothing plants; reflected on so many people earning a minimum wage, no benefits, no rights; Jesus is here with the workers day and night.

11th:     Paused in the midst of a residential area, reflecting on Jesus knocking on the doors wanting to enter and dwell with our families.

12th:     Stopped in an ally and reflected on Jesus dying for all of us, abandoned and alone.

13th:     Next stop was another alley where the dirty sights and smells reminded us of so many people who mourn the loss of a loved one; Jesus there in our midst.

14th:     Returned to the interior of the Church to reflect on the burial of Jesus, awaiting the miracle of his resurrection in three days.

These Stations of the Cross were creative and imaginative, all situated in the living reality of the people of St. Patrick's Parish on Central Avenue and 34th Street.  The young people who developed them were amazing, and filled with faith a deep love for Jesus in his self-giving for all of us.

I have already entered this parish on my calendar for Good Friday 2016.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


In a recent study published by the Public Policy Institute of California it is reported that the attitudes among California residents have changed dramatically over the years.  Gone are the harsh and repressive attitudes of people 21 years ago when the infamous Proposition 187 was passed.

The following question was given to respondents:

"If you had to choose, what do you think should happen to most illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the United States for at least two years?  They should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status, or they should be deported back to their native country."

The results were both gratifying and a bit surprising:

70%      they should be given a chance to keep their jobs

25%      they should be deported back to their native country

5%         don't know

To view the full report on immigration in California, please see this link:

While this study was done in California, across the country similar studies suggest that between 62% and 85% of all Americans surveyed would respond in the same way.

If this substantial support to allow unauthorized immigrants to keep their jobs and begin down an earned path towards legal status, why is it impossible to get members of Congress to pass needed legislation to make this possible?  That remains a mystery.

Each one of us needs to send an email to our House of Representative member and to our U.S. Senators urging them to pass needed immigration reform.

Let's continue praying for this intention, especially as we approach Holy Week and enter the joyous Easter Season.