The month of May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Please enjoy this excerpt of Bishop McElroy’s homily from the Diocesan Mass for Racial Healing in April.
We gather here tonight because there is hatred in our world – the hatred which launched the Chinese Exclusion Act , the hatred which forced the Japanese community into relocation camp , the hatred that terrorized the Filipino communities of the Central Valley , the hatred that killed small children in their classroom because they were Southeast Asian [Stockton, 1989]. For the Korean communities attacked during the Los Angeles riots and for the Pacific Islanders that have had to battle stereotypes and discrimination, we cannot gather authentically in prayer without recognizing that alongside the richness of the Asian tapestry which frames our culture in California, is a history of Anti-Asian racism, a history that still thrives subtly and overtly, viciously and violently.
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. 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.
We gather here tonight because there is hatred in our world. 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.
In his recent encyclical “Fratelli Tutti,” Pope Francis calls for a love within the human family that transcends all boundaries, all divisions, all exclusions. 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 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 a threat, a competitor. And in casting aside that terrible impulse of the human spirit, God opens up the truth that we are all equal in the sight of God. There are no children of a lesser god in this world, and we must begin to rebuild our state and our nation to foster genuine unity and peace.
One month ago, in the wake of the slaughter in Atlanta, I asked all of the parishes of our diocese to pray for the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in San Diego and Imperial Counties. Tonight, I ask again, conscious of the tears that our AAPI communities have wept, their dreams that have been shattered, the fear that they have carried, and the caricatures that have mocked and wounded them because of hateful prejudice against the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. It is the story of the crucifixion that encapsulates the magnitude of evil in our world. 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.
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