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“These Past 50 Years of Grace”
by the Most Rev. José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
50th Anniversary Mass of Thanksgiving
Thomas Aquinas College, California
September 26, 2021
I am honored to celebrate this Holy Eucharist with you today. Thomas Aquinas College is a great gift to the family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
We thank God today for His many graces and blessings during these past 50 years. We ask His continued blessings upon all your benefactors, faculty, and staff, all the students and families down through the years, and everyone who has helped to build up this fine school.
In this moment in our society and culture, I think we can all see very clearly the essential need for higher education that is truly and distinctly Catholic.
As we are aware, our society is aggressively secular and, sadly, it is becoming more hostile toward the Church and Christian viewpoints. And I would say that at the heart of the many challenges we face in this culture, is the question from the Psalms, “What is man that You are mindful of him?” i
In our Catholic tradition, we hold the answer to that question. St. Thomas Aquinas said: “The greatness of the human being consists in this: that it is capable of the universe.” ii
This is the privilege and duty of this college, founded in the name of the Angelic Doctor, to teach and proclaim this beautiful truth — the transcendent dignity of the human person, created in God’s image, called to be perfected in the image of the Father’s only Son.
Now perhaps more than at any time in the last 50 years, we need to recover the truth of the imago Dei, the truth that creation and history have a divine direction and purpose. Again, to quote St. Thomas: “The ultimate end of things is to become like God.” iii
The whole of Western civilization was built on this revelation, which we can know by faith, as well as by reason.
That is why your mission continues to be so important — not only for your students, but for the whole project of building a healthy society, a culture rooted in an authentic Christian humanism.
As we reflect on our mission, Our Lord is calling us in the Gospel today to a kind of evangelical humility, a humility in our service of His Gospel.
As we just heard, there was someone driving out demons in Jesus’ name, and the Apostle John wants to stop him. As He often does, Jesus uses this event in the life of His disciples to make a wider point about our role in His plan of salvation, in the great cause of the Kingdom of God.
“Do not prevent him,” Jesus says. “For whoever is not against us is for us.”
Basically, Jesus is telling us that there are an infinite variety of ways to serve Him.
You and I can do great things in His name, we can perform beautiful works for His Kingdom. But so can others — even if we don’t know who they are, even if they are “outside” our ministry or community, even if they are doing things their own way.
Our Lord’s ways are not our ways. We do not know what seeds of truth He has sown in the hearts of others. And we never know how He wants to act and work in other people’s lives.
So, when we see others doing good things, we should not be jealous or resentful. We shouldn’t be worrying about protecting our “turf.”
That is the message we heard also in our first reading from the history of the Israelites in the Book of Numbers.
My brothers and sisters, Our Lord is giving us good advice today. We don’t want to put out the Spirit by our pride or by wanting to be in control.iv We need to learn to rejoice when we see others serving God.
And He is also reminding us that our conversion is ongoing. The work of reforming our hearts, rooting out selfishness and sin, is the work of our lifetime.
St. Josemaría Escrivá said that sometimes it is our poor heart that scandalizes us. And of course, we all know that our hearts are not large enough, or generous enough, or pure enough, for the love that God is asking from us (The Way, 163).
The only thing we can do, is to give our hearts to Jesus, uniting our poor hearts with His, which is rich in mercy.
St. Josemaría said, “A Christian who lives united to Christ’s heart can have no goals but these: peace in society, peace in the Church, peace in his soul, the peace of God which will reach its climax when His kingdom comes” (Christ is Passing By, 170).
My brothers and sisters, Jesus needs every one of us, and He gives each of us the gifts and graces that we need to serve Him.
So, today let us ask for that grace to purify our hearts, to increase our capacity to love. Let us ask for that grace to desire only to be where God wants me to be; only to be doing what God wants me to be doing.
As we celebrate these past 50 years of grace, let us dedicate ourselves again to this beautiful mission of teaching the Word of truth and building the Kingdom.
Our Lord wants from us an abundant harvest, a thousand flowers blooming to the glory of God, all growing from a soil that is true and rich.
Let us entrust it all to Our Lady, Queen of the Angels, Seat of Wisdom. May she guide us to always to follow her Son and serve Him, in purity and humility.
i Ps. 8:4.
ii De Veritate, question 1, article 2, reply to objection 4.
iii Summa Contra Gentiles, Book 3:19; Catechism, 1877; Gomez, Men of Brave Heart, 128.
iv 1 Thess. 5:8.
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