‘We’re called to listen as one to hear God’s message for us’


GIFTS: Cardinal Robert W. McElroy celebrated the Pentecost All Peoples Mass on May 18, 2024, at Cathedral Catholic High School. (Credit: John Gastaldo)

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SAN DIEGO — Cardinal Robert W. McElroy  called on more than 2,000 faithful from dozens of cultures on hand for the Pentecost Mass for All Peoples to listen to each other and to journey together to help renew the Church.

The Diocese of San Diego held the Mass on May 18 at Cathedral Catholic High School, where more than 20 cultural communities from across the region participated, from Africans to Laotians to Vietnamese. Afterward, they joyously turned out for a festival on the school grounds, where they munched on samples from native cuisines, enjoyed live music and dances, and visited with each other.

“Each year, this ceremony, in a way more than anything else, shows, in a tangible way, the magnificent diversity in our diocese — diversity that shows strength and our unity,” said Cardinal McElroy in opening remarks.

“We are gathered as one in the grace of our God that unites all of us — every race, and people, and culture — because we’re all part of God’s family. And on this day, more than any other day, we celebrate the fact of the unity of our humanity, and of the need to overcome all the barriers that separate us, that separate peoples and nations, and to understand the call to see us first as God sees us, children of the same Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

The cardinal urged the faithful to “truly listen to one another,” as the Church is calling all Catholics to do in a four-year, worldwide initiative, called the synod. The synod promotes a culture at all levels in the Church where all members journey together in communion to pursue a common mission through participation of all, guided by the Holy Spirit.

The following is Cardinal McElroy’s homily at the Pentecost Mass:

“We have read so many times in the Scriptures and heard so many times the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. But I think almost always we get part of it wrong because we understand that Pentecost is the birth of the Church, of the grace of the Holy Spirit that comes upon the Apostles. In that moment, the grace that God made manifest in the Church flows out to the whole of the world because the Apostles go out to the balcony and preach. In that preaching, people from every land, race, way of life are converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“What we get right about that when we think about it most of the time is we think of the gift of tongues given to the Apostles. It was the first proof that the Apostles spoke in a way that they could be understood in any matter. But that’s only one half of the miracle. The other half of the miracle is a community gathered from all the nations of the world listening with the unity of heart, hearing as one also. It was filled with the understanding that God was present, and what was being spoken and presented to them in the proclamation of Christ’s action, death, and resurrection. They listened in a way which put all their differences aside, leaving only their unified hearts and souls, which listened and heard as one. Only that was evident at that moment, not the divisions. We gather here today because we wish to reflect that same vision of what the Church can and should be: listening as one mind and one heart to God’s message for all of us.

“In a very special way during this time of our synodal renewal, we must listen actively and with ever greater empathy. Listen to the voice of God, and listen to the voice of God reflected in others in the community who share with us and we share with them. At the very center of the synodal renewal is a willingness to radically listen, to come to believe that when we gather together, we have more to learn from others than what we say, and to be attuned to what they are saying, understanding it is God’s grace acting in them. It comes into our hearts and souls and deepens the unity there.

“It is the act of truly listening that builds the bonds of community within the life of the Church. It brings us ever closer when we come to understand that all of us are on the same journey in this life. Pilgrims in this earth receive the joy of every single other member of the Church that joins in a common journey of walking together. Sometimes, we’re way out ahead; sometimes we fall behind. But it is an understanding that we journey together and walk with one another. Only in that way can the grace of God be fully manifested and fully present in the life of the Church and the community. The heart of synodality is this notion of journeying and listening.

“Just as the crowd came from all over the world to Jerusalem, in celebration, so do we come together, from all parts of the world in our cultures. We have a great respect for each other’s cultures, but understand that in the end, the cultures come together as a tapestry because we realize we’re all on this journey together.

“We’re not traveling alone or in groups. We are all on this journey together, and we’re all called to listen to one another. So, in this time of renewal, of synodal outreach, I hope and pray that all of us will be renewed and blessed to listen to one another in prayer, in reflection, in decision-making, in action, and listening with a new openness that says, ‘When I hear the voice of another, in some way, I hear the voice of God being present.’”

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