Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
May 31, 2020
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As we know, we are living in a moment of conflict and unrest in our city and in cities everywhere across this country.
We want to pray today for George Floyd, who was killed this week, and for his family. And let us pray for all those who are working to put an end to racial injustice in our society.
It is an unhappy truth that we have tolerated racism for too long in America. But this is not what God wants.
Pentecost — this great feast that we celebrate today — shows us the truth about God’s purposes and plan for the human family.
As we heard in the first reading, at Pentecost there were men and women in Jerusalem from “every nation under heaven.”
And when the Holy Spirit came down upon Mary our Blessed Mother and the apostles, all of them began speaking in “different tongues.” And everyone who was in Jerusalem at that time could understand what they were saying, “each in his own native language.”
This is the Creator’s beautiful dream for the human race.
When God looks at us, he sees beyond the color of our skin, or the countries where we come from, or the language that we speak. God sees only his children — beloved sons, beloved daughters.
Pentecost is the “birthday” of the Church and the first day of her mission. And the mission that Jesus gave to his Church is the beautiful mission of gathering all the peoples of the earth into one family of God.
And the Church’s mission, my brothers and sisters, is our mission. Your mission and mine. The fire that started at Pentecost is meant to keep burning in us!
We are called to continue the work of Pentecost in our society. In the Gospel today, Jesus tells the apostles: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
Jesus is sending us out into the world. He is sending us out into our homes, the places where we work, our neighborhoods. Everywhere we find ourselves, Jesus is calling us to be missionary disciples.
And when we look at our city and our country right now, I think we can see that we have an important responsibility to share the truth that we are all children of God, and that God loves every person.
As we know, this is a challenge.
In the events of this week and this weekend, we can see that there are millions of our brothers and sisters who are still forced to suffer humiliation, indignity, and unequal opportunity just because of their race or the color of their skin.
And as we were talking about it, that is not right. It should not be this way in America. Racism is a sin and it denies what God wants for the human person. We know that.
But the way forward for us is love, not hate and not violence. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost. Jesus says today in the Gospel, “Peace be with you.”
Jesus is sending each of us out to spread this message of peace, person to person, heart to heart. Today more than ever, we need a spirit of peacemaking and searching for nonviolent solutions to our problems.
The peace that Jesus gives us is not the false peace of those who accept injustice out of fear or in order to avoid trouble or confrontation.
The peace that Jesus gives is something we have to build, something we have to “make.”
It means working to help people see another point of view, the other side of the argument. It means always working to build trust, to promote understanding, and to encourage forgiveness and friendship.
It is hard work, challenging work. And we know that we cannot do it without God’s help.
Peace is one of the “fruits” of the Holy Spirit, so on this great feast of the Holy Spirit, we pray today for the gifts of his Spirit, the fruits of his Spirit.
In the Gospel today, Jesus breathes on the apostles and says to them: “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Today, he is speaking those same words to you and to me. He is inviting us to open our hearts, to receive his Spirit. To receive the power of God, the love of God.
When we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, then we see all the goodness and beauty in the world, we see the image of God in others.
And we also have a new compassion, a new sense of people’s needs and their sufferings — and we also feel our responsibility to love others for God’s sake.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, let us pray today to receive the Holy Spirit and to renew our awareness of his presence in our lives.
And let’s especially ask the Holy Spirit to bring that fire to our hearts and our lives so that we can be better witnesses, stronger peacemakers in this challenging moment in our society.
Let’s also keep praying for all those who are sick with the coronavirus and all the brave men and women who are working to take care of them.
And let us ask the intercession of Mary our Blessed Mother, who is the Mother of the Church and the Queen of Peace.
May she help us to follow the path of nonviolence and to find the strength to remove racism from our hearts and to work to build a society of life, liberty, and equality for all.