Saturday, April 10, 2010

"A Heroic 'Yes'"

In his first public intervention since his Tuesday unveiling as the next shepherd of the nation's largest local church, Don Jose de Los Ángeles has penned an op-ed reflection for tomorrow's editions of the San Antonio Express-News.

At the close of this "epic," historic week for the Stateside church, to the Man of the Hour goes the last word:
The story of redemption began with a heroic “Yes” by a young girl named Mary, when, in the spirit of humility and obedience, she said to the angel's message announcing that she would be the mother of Jesus: “May it be done unto me according to your word.” And then when the purpose of her “Yes” was about to be fulfilled, on the night before Jesus was to be crucified, the ultimate act of humility and obedience came in the form of a prayer: “... not my will but yours be done.”

I write this column to wish you all a “Happy Easter.” I know that the Easter candy is already marked down to half price, and in San Antonio our minds are turning toward Fiesta, but for us Catholics the greeting “Happy Easter” is a tradition that continues for the 50 days of the Easter season. In our churches you will continue to hear “Alleluia” and “Glory to God.”

During this Easter season, and throughout our lives, we are called to the same humble obedience and sacrificial love that come with the cross. Certainly, most of us will never be called to obey to the extremes of the many martyrs who have faithfully said “Yes” before us. But we are called to listen for God's voice in our lives, discern his will and fulfill the mission he has given us.

This past week, the Holy Father announced that I was being asked to leave the Archdiocese of San Antonio and take on new and challenging responsibilities as Coadjutor Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. That appointment means that upon the retirement of Cardinal Roger Mahony next year, I will become their Archbishop. This was a personal test of my willingness to follow the will of God and in humble obedience say “Yes.”

Tuesday, during the press conference announcing my appointment, I reflected on my feelings of profound gratitude to the Holy Father, my excitement in serving the people of Los Angeles and my sadness in leaving San Antonio. I thank the Express-News for giving me the opportunity to say these words directly to you: "The people of San Antonio have a special goodness and grace that will always keep you close to me in my heart. In your patience and generosity, you taught me how to be a bishop. I will never forget you, and I will never stop thanking God for the privilege of having served you."

God willing, there will be time between now and my departure in late May to reflect on the specific memories, accomplishments and challenges that we have shared in the past five years, but for now I ask that you keep me in your prayers so that I will remain faithful to the “Yes” the Holy Spirit strengthened me to say, when God called me to serve his people in this new and challenging way.
As one friend of Gomez's from the archbishop's early days in Texas summed up the reaction of many on Tuesday and through the days since, "I couldn't be happier that it's José."

Then he paused... and, in a reference to the sky-high expectations and sea of challenges the coadjutor'll inherit, added, "I just couldn't feel more sorry for José."

Indeed, gang, keep the guy in your prayers.

San Antonio Express-News File