In this long season of sickness and death since the coming of the coronavirus, this is one more trial, one more test. We ask the Lord to strengthen and increase our faith.
This destruction comes as we are getting ready to celebrate the 250th anniversary of this great mission. But this fire changes nothing. Mission San Gabriel will always be the spiritual heart of the Church in Los Angeles, the place from which the Gospel still goes forth.
You trace your roots all the way back to the beginnings of the Christian faith in California, before the founding of the United States. In fact, you are one of the few Catholic communities in this continent that can claim to be founded by a saint.
Last night I was praying to your founder, St. Junípero Serra, and reflecting on his words and witness. He knew sufferings every day in his service to the Gospel, as you all know very well.
The first mission he founded, Mission San Diego de Alcalá, was burned to the ground in 1775, and a good friend and fellow missionary was killed there.
And I thought, what would St. Junípero tell us this morning? And I remembered his beautiful little prayer: “Let us bear every hardship for the love of You and the salvation of souls. In our trials, may we know that we are loved as Your own children.”
We are children of God and God will never abandon any of his children. Our hope is never in vain because our hope is always in the Lord.
Jesus Christ is not some figure from the distant past. He is alive! He is risen from the dead! And we can know his power in our lives. He speaks to us in here and now, just as he spoke to his apostles by the seashore, as we hear in the Gospel today.
So, we can’t give in to this sadness. We need to make this a moment for purification and renewal of our mission — renewal of Mission San Gabriel and renewal of the mission that is each one of our lives.
And we do this, by renewing and intensifying our love for Jesus and our devotion to his Word.