Thursday, September 26, 2013

A time for prayer

Archbishop José H. Gomez
By Archbishop José H. Gomez 

In these days, we are praying for many serious intentions.

As I write, our leaders in Washington are still debating whether to act against the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons against its people.

Our Holy Father Pope Francis and the American Catholic bishops don’t believe violence is the right answer to this atrocity. We are continuing to urge a ceasefire and negotiations.

Earlier this month, in union with Pope Francis and the universal church, we observed a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria and Middle East. During our observance at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the outpouring of prayer and Eucharistic adoration moved me.

Prayer is always the beginning of peace in our world. Because through prayer we touch the heart of Jesus, who is our peace.

His way of love opens the path to forgiveness and reconciliation — with God and with others. And following his way of love means we are called to be peacemakers. We need to always be working for greater understanding among peoples and greater awareness that we are all sisters and brothers in God’s family.

Peace is not an abstract or an issue that only concerns nations far away from us. Peace begins with us. We need to seek new paths to peace in our world and to put an end to violence in our neighborhoods and communities. Wherever we find there is no love, we need to put love. Wherever we find there is no justice, we need to promote human dignity and human rights. And where there is no peace, we need to build trust and the sense of forgiveness.

So this week we need to keep praying for peace. For peace in our hearts and peace in our world.

This week we also need to keep praying for immigration reform in our country.

Last Sunday we joined the church around the country in celebrating Mass to pray for immigration reform. We did that at the request of my brother bishops in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Masses were celebrated in 22 States, including California.

We need to pray for ourselves and for our leaders in Congress. Immigration is a difficult issue. And good people disagree. We all agree that our immigration system is broken — and that many people are suffering because of it. Nobody disagrees about that. But we are having a hard time figuring out how to fix this system in a way that promotes justice.

As I have said before, immigration reform is a great human rights test of our time. For me, our national debate about immigration is a great struggle for the American spirit and the American soul.

But more than that, it is a spiritual and moral issue. It is about our relationships with God and with our neighbors who are our brothers and sisters. It is a question of what it means to say that we are followers of Jesus Christ.

If we are following Jesus, then we need to see the world as Jesus sees the world. We need to see other people, as Jesus sees them. As brothers and sisters. As children of God.

In God’s eyes we’re all his beloved sons and daughters and no one is a stranger to any of us. No matter who we are, or where we come from, or how we got here.

We need to remember that when we are talking about immigrants, we are talking about husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. All with their own stories to tell. All with dreams for their lives and for their children’s lives.

So we have much to pray about this week.

Let’s keep praying for peace. And let’s pray for a comprehensive immigration reform now — that we can continue to build an America that lives up to its beautiful promises of liberty, equality, opportunity and justice for all.

And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary, the Queen of Peace, to help us to see with the eyes of Jesus — so that we can know his wisdom and follow him with deeper faith, hope and love.

Archbishop José H. Gómez is archbishop of Los Angeles. His weekly column is provided by and appears in The Tidings, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez at (213) 637-7000, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.

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