SAN FRANCISCO — During this ongoing pandemic, the commitment of health care workers to treat COVID-19 patients even at risk to their own health and lives — and some have died — is an illustration of Judeo-Christian values still at work in the larger society, said Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco.

“We bear fruit by doing what Christ commands us to do,” he said. “And what does he command us to do? ‘This is my commandment: Love one another as I love you no one has greater love than this than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.'”

“As de-Christianized as our society has become, we still see this happening” in the work and dedication of medical professionals, he said. “This tells me we still have the vestiges of what was once a society imbued with Judeo-Christian values. This is what a Christian society looks like.”

ACordileone made the comments in his homily for the archdiocese’s second annual White Mass and blessing for medical professionals.

He was the main celebrant of the evening Mass, which took place Oct. 16 outside St Augustine Church in South San Francisco with socially distanced seating. Massgoers followed all state and local health protocols, including mask-wearing and hand-sanitizing.

The Benedict XVI Institute musicians played and sang from inside the church, and St. Augustine’s audiovisual team piped the music out to those outside. The Mass invoked the Holy Spirit to provide his guidance and protection of medical professionals. The archbishop imparted a special blessing to all medical professionals in attendance.

The name of the White Mass comes from the color of uniforms traditionally worn by those in health care.

Gathering to pray for and show spiritual support for Catholic health care workers “is so important,” Cordileone said. “As the body is all interconnected, as the church is all interconnected, so is society as a whole. We’ve seen this interconnectedness in the distress of the current pandemic, physical health and economic health, the health of social life.

“Above all what is important in society is spiritual health. We must give primacy to the spiritual in order for a society to be healthy.”

He added, “How we relate to one another, how we fulfill the duties of our state in life, how we live out our vocation, that all comes from where we are in our spiritual state, so we need to continue to exercise our most sublime duty as human beings in giving worship to God. We must make sure we do so in a safe way but we make sure that we do so.”

Cordileone thanked all in the health care profession “for your commitment to living your faith in your workplace.”

“Your workplace, providing health care, is one of the most privileged places where the values of our faith can affect people on such a deep level,” he said. “You understand this, you understand that your role is not only to improve the quality of your patients’ life in this world but above all to help them improve the quality of their life everlasting.”

Cordileone also welcomed the formation a new chapter of the Catholic Medical Association in the archdiocese.

“I am so appreciative of the vision of your founders,” he said. “It’s something I have been desiring and envisioning and seeing the great need (for) here in this archdiocese, given what a great center of health care and health care research we are.”

“We need to imbue this vocation, this endeavor of health care and health care research with the values that come from the Gospel otherwise what is quintessentially a Christian work can devolve into something that can be harmful in so many ways,” the archbishop added.