Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Cardinal Roger M. Mahony
May 26, 2010

Ezekiel 34: 11-16
Hebrews 4:12-16
Matthew 16:13-19

I still vividly remember that morning of October 27, 2008, when I celebrated Mass at the Tomb of St. Peter. That sacred time prepared me well for my meeting just two hours later with the Successor to St. Peter, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.

I explained that in 2010 I would have served as Archbishop of Los Angeles for 25 years, and that, in early 2011, I would reach age 75. I proposed that he consider appointing a Coadjutor Archbishop for Los Angeles, a new Shepherd who would come in 2010 to labor with me before becoming Archbishop of this portion of the Lord’s Vineyard in early 2011.

Subsequently, Pope Benedict approved my request. Then followed a process which, happily, culminated in the appointment of my friend and brother, Archbishop José Gomez, whom we formally and warmly welcome today.

Today’s liturgical celebration connects us to Jesus’ commissioning of Peter to serve as the head, the rock, of his Church. Our English translation of the words of the Gospel we have heard does not convey the depth of this commissioning: “…and upon this rock I shall build my Church” is far too static a translation of the Greek οικοδομήσϣ. Rather the words of Jesus ring out: “…and upon this rock I shall be building up my Church.” It is Jesus himself who is the cornerstone of God’s plan of salvation in every age. Jesus is the foundation, the source and sustainer of continuity in the Church. He is ever at work in building up his Church. Jesus alone is the supreme shepherd of the flock.

Nuestra celebración litúrgica de hoy nos conecta con la comisión extraordinaria que nuestro Señor Jesucristo extiende a Pedro para que sea la cabeza, la roca de su Iglesia. La traducción en inglés del Evangelio de Mateo que acabamos de escuchar no acaba de expresar adecuadamente la profundidad de esta comisión de Jesús: “…y sobre esta roca construiré mi Iglesia.” Esta versión es demasiado estática, una traducción demasiado tímida de la palabra griega οικοδομήσϣ. Jesús verdaderamente proclamó: “…y sobre esta roca yo estaré construyendo mi Iglesia.” Jesús mismo es la misma piedra angular del plan salvador de Dios en cada siglo. Es Jesús quien es el mero corazón y la esencia de la verdadera continuidad en la Iglesia. Jesús, y sólo él, es el pastor supremo de su rebaño.

Today we recognize that Jesus is present in our midst as when he commissioned Peter. As I near the end of my time of tending this corner of the Vineyard, the shepherd’s staff is being passed to Archbishop Gomez. Mahony goes; Gomez comes. Christ alone endures. The Church’s foundation and its future is not in either one of us. Our foundation and our future are in Christ alone. So we give thanks for the enduring presence of Christ in the Church through the Spirit.

Cuando estoy a punto de terminar el período de pastorear este pedazo de la viña del Señor, el báculo es pasado al Arzobispo José Gomez. Mahony se va; llega Gomez. Sólo Jesucristo continúa. La vida de la Iglesia no tiene su fundamento o su futuro en ninguno de nosotros.

Since my ordination as a Bishop 35 years ago, I have visited the tombs of Peter and Paul almost every year. There I would celebrate the Eucharist for whichever Local Church I was serving. When praying there I am always aware of the insignificance of my own efforts, knowing that the ongoing life of the Church does not depend upon me.

This does not relieve me or any of us of the responsibility to conform our lives more fully to Jesus, our Good Shepherd. In today’s reading from Ezekiel we hear: “For thus says the Lord God: I myself will look after and tend my sheep” (34:11). That prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus himself who remains with his sheep and tends his flock—through very human and limited shepherds. Reflecting on the Bishop’s role in continuing the ministry of the Good Shepherd, Saint Augustine put it so well: “Believe me, brothers and sisters, if what I am for you frightens me, what I am with you reassures me. I am a Bishop for you, a Christian with you. The former is the name of the office received, the latter the name of the grace given; the former name carries danger, the latter salvation.” Clearly, Augustine understood Jesus’ words in John, Chapter 10: “The good shepherd lays down, if need be, his life for the sheep.”

Ezekiel outlines the shepherds’ tasks, no less challenging today than in his own time:

• The shepherd is found in the midst of the sheep, leading them. He does not drive them! He leads them out from among the peoples and gathers them from the foreign lands. How ripe a message for our vast multi-cultural reality in Los Angeles. A good shepherd here will of necessity work tirelessly for just immigration policies and for the protection of the dignity of all our immigrants.

• The shepherd feeds and nourishes the flock. The Bishop knows how to nourish his people in Word and Sacrament, guiding his people in the life of the Spirit.

• The shepherd seeks the lost, the stray, the injured, the sick—heralding the “New Evangelization.” With confidence he and his people face the many opportunities and challenges to be a sign of reconciliation and healing. Shepherd and flock are a beacon of hope of all who are poor, weak, or marginalized in the Church and in the wider society.

La lectura de Ezequiel describe varios aspectos del pastor que continúan siendo hoy tan originales y exigentes como lo fueron en tiempo de Ezequiel:

• El pastor se encuentra en medio de las ovejas. Las conduce; no las maneja. Las conduce de entre todos los pueblos y las reúne desde las naciones extranjeras—una referencia bien apropiada a la inmensa realidad multicultural de Los Ángeles. Así, el buen pastor en Los Ángeles, por necesidad tendrá que trabajar sin descanso por políticas justas de inmigración y por la protección de la dignidad de cada inmigrante.

• El pastor alimenta y nutre al rebaño—así se enfatiza la importancia del oficio de enseñar del Obispo y de ayudar en la formación de nuestra gente en la vida del Espíritu.

• El pastor va en busca de las perdidas, aquellos que se han desviado, las heridas y las enfermas—anunciando la “Nueva Evangelización” en este nuestro tiempo en la historia. Ambos, el pastor y las ovejas, deberán ser juntos, un faro de esperanza para
los pobres y los que están a los márgenes de la sociedad.

The manifold responsibilities of the Bishop are spelled out by the late Pope John Paul II in Pastores Gregis, “Shepherds of the Flock” This was followed in 2004 by an updated Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops entitled Apostolorum Successores, “Successors of the Apostles.” Archbishop Gomez, I was delighted to find only five sections of the Directory devoted to the Bishop Emeritus of a Diocese; the other 226 sections treat your tasks as the Diocesan Bishop!

The Letter to the Hebrews challenges us “to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus” by reminding us: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession” [Hebrews 12:2, and 4:14]. This challenges us to proclaim Christ in fresh, inviting, and bold ways. These days so many live without hope, yearning for the assurance of God’s boundless love and mercy. “So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help” [Hebrews 4:16]. These are the words of Archbishop Gomez’ Episcopal motto. They urge us to never tire of offering the assurance of God’s boundless love and mercy in and through our Risen Savior.

La carta a los Hebreos nos ofrece esta seguridad a través de su invitación:

“Acerquémonos con confianza al tribunal de gracia para recibir misericordia y obtener la gracia de un auxilio oportuno” (Hebreos 4:16). El lema episcopal del Arzobispo Gomez está tomado de este mismo versículo.

We return to today’s pivotal Gospel selection, since surely a Bishop must be committed to the building up of Christ’s Church. In this Particular Church of Los Angeles, how and where is Jesus continuing to build up his Church? Perhaps above all through the Six Pastoral Initiatives of our Archdiocesan Synod which concluded in 2003. These will remain both challenging and valid, calling for yet further implementation. First and foremost, we are disciples of Jesus Christ who is center of the Father’s plan of salvation. Making the Gospel heard in words and seen in actions which evoke a response in faith—that is, evangelization—must permeate each level and every activity of this Particular Church. I am so grateful that you, Archbishop Gomez, have given such attention to ongoing evangelization in your own vision of the Church.

Si fuéramos capaces de imaginarnos algunas áreas en las que Jesucristo continúa construyendo su Iglesia, ¿dónde las podemos encontrar hoy en esta Iglesia particular de Los Ángeles? Me atrevería a responder que las Iniciativas Pastorales redactadas por nuestro Sínodo Arquidiocesano del 2003 continúan siendo valientes y válidas, incluso cuando algunas todavía requieren de más implementación. La primera y más importante, nosotros
somos una comunidad de discípulos de Jesucristo que estamos en el corazón y en el centro del plan de salvación del Padre. Estoy entusiasmado de que Usted, Arzobispo Gomez, haya prestado una atención tan particular a una evangelización continua en su visión para la Iglesia.

The Archdiocesan Synod affirmed the common priesthood of the baptized, the need for ongoing religious formation for all of us, and the value of the many lay ministries flourishing in the Church. One of the characteristics of our Local Church is that spirit of collaboration among us, calling forth the gifts of all in building up the Church. At the same time we remain keenly aware of the pressing need for ordained priests and deacons, as well as consecrated women and men, in building up the Church. Increased efforts to invite more men and women to serve the Church in the ordained ministry and in consecrated life are crucial. Archbishop Gomez, we welcome your efforts to help us achieve this pastoral initiative.

If our focus is on the total self-giving of Jesus Christ in the plan of his Father, then we too must surrender to God’s plan for us. We do not surrender in a spirit of passivity. Rather, imbued with a new and generous spirit, we hear again and respond anew to Jesus’ words: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I shall be building up my Church.” Here, in our own time and place, we commit ourselves to work with renewed vigor until this Local Church of Los Angeles becomes an even clearer sign—not of our plans, but of that splendid yet mysterious plan of God our Father, revealed through His only Son, in the communion of the Holy Spirit!

Si de verdad nos fijamos en la entrega total de Jesucristo realizando el plan de su Padre, también nosotros debemos entregarnos al plan que Dios tiene para todos nosotros. No
lo hacemos desde una visión muy pasiva de la historia de la salvación. Sino que más bien, llenos de un espíritu nuevo y generoso, oímos otra vez aquellas palabras tan confortantes:
“Tú eres Pedro, y sobre esta roca yo voy construyendo mi Iglesia”.