Gomez to ‘Encuentro’: Jesus Sent Disciples; Guadalupe Sent Juan Diego; God Sends You
L.A. archbishop at gathering: ‘May Our Lady of Guadalupe always go with us on the journey we make as disciples of Jesus.’
DALLAS — At the final Mass of the “National V Encuentro” gathering, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles encouraged Hispanic and Latino Catholics to go out into the world and be missionary disciples for the Church, like many holy laypeople have done before them.
“Our reading of today’s Gospel begins with these words: ‘Jesus and his disciples left from there and started a journey,’” he said, referencing Mark 9:30-37.
“This is our story, yours and mine. This is the history of the Church. We are his disciples.”
Archbishop Gomez gave the homily on the final day of the National V Encuentro, a meeting of Hispanic and Latino Catholics from throughout the United States that was the culmination of a yearslong process of consultation at the parish, diocesan and regional levels.
The theme of this Encuentro, held Sept. 20-23 in Grapevine, Texas, was “Discípulos Misioneros: Testigos del Amor de Dios” (Missionary Disciples: Witnesses of the Love of God).
Missionaries are made because they have first encountered Jesus, who then sends them on a journey, Archbishop Gomez said.
“Your journey is now joined to Jesus. Your story is now part of the story of salvation, the journey of God’s people through history,” he added, like the disciples who spread the Gospel from Jerusalem to Rome, Asia and Africa.
“The journey of the Church continued toward the American continent with the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico in 1531,” he said.
“We all know that story. We learned it when we were children, and we transmitted it to our little ones. It is a beautiful narration of the tender love of God manifested in history.”
As Jesus sent the disciples, God through the Virgin of Guadalupe entrusted a mission to San Juan Diego: to go tell the bishop to build a church.
“Think about that, my dear brothers and sisters: Jesus entrusted him with the mission of his Church in the New World to a layman,” he said, “not to a priest or a bishop; not a member of a religious order.”
“You are the sons and daughters of the Virgin of Guadalupe in our time; you are the spiritual heirs of Juan Diego. The mission entrusted to him is now entrusted to you.”
Just like Juan Diego, God is calling the Hispanic and Latino Catholics of the United States to be saints, missionary disciples and leaders of the Church, Archbishop Gomez said.
“He is calling the lay faithful to work together with the bishops to renew and rebuild his Church — not only in this country, but throughout the continents of the Americas,” he said.
Hispanic and Latino Catholics are being called “to lead by your holiness. True unity in the Church will only come about if every one of us — clergy and laity — is striving to be holy as God is holy.”
“Let’s always move forward with confidence. Let’s be men and women of the encounter!
Each one of us [can lead] many people to a personal encounter with Jesus Christ,” he said.
“And may Our Lady of Guadalupe always go with us on the journey we make as disciples of Jesus. May she help us to be saints, to be heroes, instruments of unity and healing. These times demand it.”