Pentecost Homily Help
Prepared by Mark Schmidt, MSW, MA, copyright 2021. Used with permission.
This Homily Help is designed to offer preachers ideas on incorporating the discussion of racial justice into preaching for Pentecost homilies but many of the main points could be applied to other scripture readings throughout the year. Each reading has bulleted points for preachers to reflect upon as they read the scriptures in preparation for preaching and may incorporate into their homily if interested. The Homily Help also includes practical actions that preachers can suggest to their congregations to engage in addressing in their own lives, the Church community, and society at large. Additional resources are also provided if the preacher desires to learn more for their own personal development as well as information for their congregations.
Pentecost Sunday Readings Mass During the Day
As with other injustices in the world, all are called to fulfill their responsibility to the dignity of others and the common good. How we do that is different for each person. At the very least though it is our responsibility to welcome one another into relationship and communion and to interrupt instances of racism such as jokes, or racist language, exclusionary language or referring to anyone in terms of “us” and “them”. Each of us may be called to engage in interrupting racism in different ways but we are all called to disrupt racism we encounter, especially in our own sphere of influence. This will also include active participation in the governing of our society by fulfilling our responsibilities laid out in the USCCB document "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship" to eliminate systemic and institutional forms of racism.
1st Reading - Acts 2:1-11
“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”
· “From the day of Pentecost, when the Resurrection is announced to diverse peoples, each of whom understand it in their own language (cf. Acts 2:6), the Church fulfils her mission of restoring and bearing witness to the unity lost at Babel. Due to this ecclesial ministry, the human family is called to rediscover its unity and recognize the richness of its differences, in order to attain “full unity in Christ”.” Compendium of the Social Doctrine, 431
· People present at Pentecost heard the Apostles preach, each in their own language.
· Everyone was incorporated into the community rather than assimilated.
· While they all shared together in the Pentecost their cultural/ethnic identity remained intact. There was unity without uniformity.
· Pope Francis at Liberty Hall in Philadelphia: “I greet all of you with particular affection! Many of you have emigrated to this country at great personal cost, but in the hope of building a new life. Do not be discouraged by whatever challenges and hardships you face. I ask you not to forget that, like those who came here before you, you bring many gifts to your new nation. You should never be ashamed of your traditions. Do not forget the lessons you learned from your elders, which are something you can bring to enrich the life of this American land. I repeat, do not be ashamed of what is part of you, your life blood.” https://catholicphilly.com/2015/09/news/local-news/text-of-pope-francis-speech-at-independence-hall/
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
“Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.”
· In order to address prejudice within ourselves and communities we must call upon God to “send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.”
· Our reliance on the grace of God is essential to doing good in the world, including eliminating racism. But it requires us to humble ourselves so that we can be transformed by God’s grace to be prepared to challenge ourselves to honestly examine how we may be contributing to injustice.
2nd Reading – 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13
“As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.”
· Our church is comprised of the many beautiful parts of the human family, people of every race and ethnicity celebrate together in faith.
· We each are called to fulfill our obligation to work towards peace and community among all people according to our own gifts. Each of us have been provided different gifts to offer one another and to the community as a whole by way of our culture and each of us are called to receive the gifts that others provide to the community.
· “We can provide experiences for children that expose them to different cultures and peoples.” Open Wide Our Hearts
· “We can also draw upon the incredible diversity of the Church worldwide in providing education within the family and make it clear that God dwells in the equal dignity of each person.” Open Wide Our Hearts
· “We ask all the faithful to consider ways in which they and their families can encounter, grow, and witness through an understanding and commitment to these values today.” Open Wide Our Hearts
Sequence – Veni Sancte Spiritus
“On our dryness pour your dew;… Bend the stubborn heart and will; Melt the frozen, warm the chill; Guide the steps that go astray.”
· If we welcome the Holy Spirit as “guest” into our heart we must also welcome others into our hearts as guests. God calls His people to welcome differences and not expect everyone to be the same.
· Addressing our own shortcomings is never easy. If everyone opens themselves to receive the grace of the Holy Spirit and are willing to reflect on their own failures when it comes to welcoming others and addressing prejudices or complicity in structures of sin, including racism and xenophobia, then the world will become a more loving community.
· “The cumulative effects of personal sins of racism have led to social structures of injustice and violence that makes us all accomplices in racism.” Open Wide Our Hearts
Gospel Reading - John 20:19-23
“Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
· If there is to be true peace in our world it must be the work of the church and the faithful to help eliminate the sin of racism within each of us and within society.
· “When one culture meets another, lack of awareness and understanding often leads to grossly distorted value judgments and prejudice. This prejudice fuels attitudes of superiority that are embedded in, and reinforced by, social structures and laws.” Open Wide Our Hearts
· “we have never sufficiently contended with the impact of overt racism. Nor have we spent the necessary time to examine where the racist attitudes of yesterday have become a permanent part of our perceptions, practices, and policies of today, or how they have been enshrined in our social, political, and economic structures.” Open Wide Our Hearts
· “Love compels each of us to resist racism courageously. It requires us to reach out generously to the victims of this evil, to assist the conversion needed in those who still harbor racism, and to begin to change policies and structures that allow racism to persist. Overcoming racism is a demand of justice, but because Christian love transcends justice, the end of racism will mean that our community will bear fruit beyond simply the fair treatment of all.” Open Wide Our Hearts
Recognizing Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month
In the month of May which is also Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month it might be relevant recognize the history, contributions, and presence of AAPI Catholics in the Church on the Asian continent and among the Pacific Islands.
· Jesus and the Apostles were all born and lived on the Asian Continent
· Three of the five early patriarchates were in Asian cities (Antioch, Jerusalem, Constantinople).
· It is traditionally believed that Christianity reached what is now modern-day India in the 1st century with the Apostle Thomas evangelizing the Malabar coast and the Apostle Bartholomew evangelizing the Konkon coast.
· Several Eastern Rite Catholic Churches are Asian in origin including Syro-Malabar Catholic Church (India), Chaldeon Catholic Church (Iraq), Maronite Catholic Church (Jordan), Syro-Malankara Catholic Church (India), Syriac Catholic Church (Syria), Melkite Byzantine Catholic Church (Syria)
· Learn about AAPI saints and those on the way to canonization such as Venerable Nguyen Van Thuan (Cardinal and persecuted leader in Vietnamese church), Servant of God Takashi Nagai (Japanese doctor), Blessed Peter To Rot (catechist Papua New Guinea), Blessed Rani Miriam Vattalil (religious sister and social justice advocate in India), among many others.
Prayer -Without prayer and the sacraments our work for justice is much more difficult. We must bring about greater conversion in our own hearts in order to bring about conversion of unjust systems. Prayer and the sacraments gives us the grace to overcome evil; they humble us and strengthen our fortitude in the face of obstacles. Perhaps pray the Stations of the Cross for Overcoming Racism
Listen - Listen to the voices of Black, Indigenous, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander Catholics. One great place to start is the presentation made by Servant of God Thea Bowman to the US Bishops in 1989
Learn - Read the US Bishops Letters on Racism - "Brothers and Sisters to Us" and "Open Wide Our Hearts" -en Español
Act - Advocate for laws and policies that promote equity and inclusion of all people in the Church and society.
o Follow The Iowa Catholic Conference for Updates on State legislation
o Issues in society might include working for expanded Voting Rights and access to the ballot box, Economic, Employment and Housing opportunities, and Criminal Justice Reform.
o Consider ways in which the parish life or Catholic institutions you are involved can make racial justice a priority.
o As a parish review the Cultural Competency Modules by the USCCB
Repeat - Becoming Anti-Racist people and institutions requires vigilance and continual renewal.
Prepared by Mark A. Schmidt, MSW, MA, copyright 2021. Used with permission.
In preparation for preaching on racism for Good Friday it may be helpful to review some of the following resources from the USCCB and other sources:
Review some or all of the “Backgrounders” on racism from the USCCB:
o What Is Systemic Racism? - en Español
o Racial Economic Inequality - en Español
o Racism and Education -en Español
o Racism and Employment - en Español
o Racism and Housing - en Español
o Racism and Migration in the United States - en Español
o Racism and the Criminal Justice System -en Español
o Racism and the Native American Experience - en Español
o Racism and Voting -en Español
USCCB Pastoral Letters on Racism
o Open Wide Our Hearts: An Enduring Call to Love;USCCB, 2018.
o Brothers and Sisters to Us, USCCB, 1979.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Speeches/Writings
o Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham City Jail”
o Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “The Other America”