The head of the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese celebrated Mass in jail Monday, sharing a message that Jesus Christ was not all that different from the 200 inmates gathered before him for the Christmas holiday observance.
"He was poor. He had not even a place to be born," said Archbishop José H. Gomez, adding that Jesus was also an immigrant, a refugee and someone who was imprisoned. "He really wanted to show us how to have a good life."
Celebrating Christmas Mass at the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles has become something of a tradition for Gomez, who was appointed to head the Los Angeles Diocese in 2010.
"As archbishop, he could spend Christmas anywhere, but he chooses to be here with you," Patricia Bartlett, a lay Catholic leader, told the inmates. She said his visit meant that the Catholic Church cared about the inmates and had not forgotten them.
A group of volunteers from St. Agatha Catholic Church in the West Adams neighborhood, who call themselves the "Men's Central Jail Choir," led some of the inmates in singing Christmas carols. Some of the carols were hymns, but others were bouncy secular tunes such as "Feliz Navidad."