Thursday, September 12, 2013

Building a culture of faith

Archbishop José H. Goméz
By Archbishop José H. Gomez

Last weekend we hosted the annual convention of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL).

CALL is founded on the recognition that Latinos are becoming more and more important in the life of our church and in the life of our nation.

We need to make sure that Latinos are well-formed in their Catholic faith and are prepared to take up our obligations as leaders in the cultural and political conversations that will shape American life in the years ahead. Our hope is that CALL will become a force for moral and social renewal in America.

CALL’s convention this year focused on “building a culture of faith.” And this is a duty for all of us in the church.

All of us — every Catholic — has a duty to grow in our knowledge of the faith and to deepen our commitment to the new evangelization.

God has been calling people for 2,000 years in every nation, all over the world. He has been calling people in Los Angeles and California for almost 500 years.

But our work is just beginning. There are still so many people who don’t know Jesus. In our neighborhoods, in our communities, in our society, even in our families.

So that’s a job for us, my brothers and sisters. Jesus is sending us out into all the pathways of our daily lives. He is calling every one of us to be missionaries and apostles.

We have to go out into our world and tell the good news to everyone. We need to tell them about Jesus. We need to help them to recognize God working in their lives, working in our world.

The love of God has grown cold in many people in our society. They forget all about God. Or they find “substitutes” for God. They substitute work for God or they fill up their lives with other concerns — concerns for making money or seeking comfort, or whatever.

We all know people who have drifted away from the Church. We know people who are just going through the motions, who are just “routine Catholics.” They still go to church, but they’ve forgotten why. Their heart is not in it. They’ve lost their fire, their desire for God.

These are the people that Jesus wants us to reach out to! We have to get involved in their lives. We have to serve them in love. We need to share our faith with these people. To share our excitement about Jesus! We need to bring these people back to God!

There are still too many empty seats around the Eucharistic table of the Lord! Even after all these years of Christianity in this country.

So we have a big job to change this culture and to grow our Catholic Church, the family of God. It’s going to take grace and courage and real formation and commitment from Catholic lay people — not only Hispanics but everyone.

All of us in the church need to be true apostles of our day, bringing the men and women of our society to the encounter with Jesus Christ. We need to see ourselves as instruments in God’s saving plan, until our world is filled with the light of Christ and the values of his Gospel.

That’s what makes our Christian lives an adventure! An adventure of sharing in the mission of Jesus Christ. Each one of us is a part of his mission of redemption for all the people of the world.

So let’s pray for one another this week. And let’s challenge one another to be better apostles and better missionaries. We have to make our church again a missionary church — to bring people to God. To proclaim God’s glory among the nations.

Let us ask Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Mother of the New Evangelization, to guide us and strengthen us and to help us grow deeper in our faith and more confident in our hope and stronger in our 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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