After a Mass in the Chapel of the Annunciation at San Gabriel Mission, the archbishop led a procession with the Blessed Sacrament, carried in a large golden monstrance under a canopy, through the streets of downtown L.A. to St. Luke the Evangelist Church.
The procession, with many lay Catholics, religious, and clergy of the archdiocese in attendance, returned to San Gabriel Mission shortly after noon, where the archbishop led solemn Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The procession route spanned 6.5 miles.
The event is part a three-year National Eucharistic Revival launched by the U.S. bishops on the feast of Corpus Christi last summer to increase faith and devotion to the Eucharist.
Exhorting the faithful in his homily during the Mass at Mission San Gabriel to renew their faith in the Real Presence, Gomez drew parallels between the mystery of the Eucharist and the Incarnation. “In the Eucharist, Jesus gives us the same Body and Blood that was conceived in Mary’s womb and offered on the cross,” he declared, pointing out that after the Annunciation, “Mary was the first person to make a ‘Eucharistic procession.’”
Speaking to the public nature of the procession through the streets of L.A., Gomez said, “This is a perfect day for us to make this public witness of our faith in Jesus Christ. Because today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, the day when the Word of God was made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary.”
He continued, “Many centuries ago, St. Augustine said, ‘The flesh of Jesus is the flesh of Mary. That’s the great mystery of the Annunciation! Jesus received his human body from the body of Mary, just as each one of us was formed in our own mother’s womb. And this solemnity reminds us that there is a deep connection between the Incarnation and the Eucharist.”
“Jesus became flesh in Mary’s womb in order to offer his flesh on the cross for the life of the world. In the Eucharist, Jesus gives us the same Body and Blood that was conceived in Mary’s womb and offered on the cross — to be our food, to nourish and strengthen us as we make our journey through this world.”
“Our Blessed Mother Mary was the first person to make a ‘Eucharistic procession.’ She was the first person to carry Jesus out into the streets, and to bring him into the world. … Right after the Annunciation, Mary arose and went in haste to visit her cousin, St. Elizabeth. She carried Jesus in her womb through the hill country of Judea. And we remember that when Mary arrived, St. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and the child in her womb jumped for joy. The Visitation was the first Eucharistic procession! And today, my brothers and sisters, we carry on that tradition.”
“When we receive the Eucharist, we have Jesus within us, his Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity – just as Mary did. So let us renew our amazement today at the gift of the Holy Eucharist.”