SAN DIEGO — Christ’s crucifixion “encapsulates the magnitude of evil in our world,” San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy said in his homily during a special Mass he celebrated to promote racial healing.
“But it is the Crucifixion that also conveys even more piercingly the hope we hold, the faith we share, and the love that unites us in Jesus Christ who suffered all to show there are no limits to His love,” the bishop said.
The April 15 evening Mass at Good Shepherd Parish was held for and with the Asian and Pacific Islander community in light of hate crimes against those communities across the country.
The Mass was the latest effort in the San Diego Diocese to raise awareness of the devastating effects of racism on individuals and communities, to engage the faithful in meaningful dialogue and to inspire action.
Just before Bishop McElroy’s homily, the parish’s pastor, Father Michael Pham, cited passages from Matthew 27:32-37 about how the Romans compelled a man from Cyrene named Simon to carry the cross of Jesus of Nazareth as He was taken to His crucifixion at Golgotha.
“We gather here tonight because there is hatred in our world,” Bishop McElroy said.
He recounted some examples from U.S. history fueled by such hatred, including the Chinese Exclusion Act and the forced internment of the Japanese community into relocation camps during World War II.
“The very reality and meaning of the Crucifixion calls us to see this exclusion and violence, recognizing in the racist patterns of our society the false condemnation of Pilate, the insults of the crowd, the sense of desolation that Jesus experienced as He hung on the cross,” the bishop said.
“And we, as individuals, must in shame recognize those moments when we have contributed to the terrible legacy of racism in our world by joining the crowd shouting insults, by remaining silent in the face of racial injustice, and by nailing Christ to the cross in the form of His sisters and brothers,” the bishop said.
“But more importantly we gather here tonight because Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross shows us a pathway of radical love and sacrifice that is the only lasting antidote to the racism that lurks within the human heart,” he continued.
“It is the love of the good Samaritan, who confronting evil and danger on the road, breaks every racist cultural boundary that calls him to limit his love to his own Samaritan community,” the bishop said. “The love of the good Samaritan destroys racism by casting aside that mysterious cancer of the human soul that leads us to label God’s children as ‘other,’ as inferior, as unworthy, as threat, as competitor,” he said.
“In casting aside that terrible impulse of the human spirit,” the bishop concluded, “God opens up the truth that we are all equal in the sight of God. We must begin to rebuild our state and our nation to foster genuine unity and peace.”
See videos and other resources on this issue at sdcatholic.org/racism.