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Archive of Homilies & Reflections

A collection of homilies and reflections from Rev. James J. Greenfield, OSFS ’84, Ed.D., president of DeSales University.

Juneteenth: A Reflection from Fr. James J. Greenfield, OSFS

by James J. Greenfield, OSFS, ‘84, President Jun 19, 2020
Juneteenth Reflection from Fr. Jim

Juneteenth – today, June 19, is the national commemoration of the ending of slavery in our nation. In our prayer, reflection and service, I ask us to remember anew the importance of this day in our nation’s history.

James J. Greenfield, OSFS, ‘84 President

Last Wednesday evening, Jaime Gerhart, director of service in the newly structured Center for Faith and Justice (CFJ) led lively conversations among the 51 people who zoomed in for the event.  Using resources from Educating for Justice, participants reflected on a video presentation by Trevor Noah, a South African comedian, political analyst, and television host.  He opened his presentation with an insight that advanced and echoed a foundational point from Pope Francis’ encyclical letter on the care for creation, Laudato Si: Everything is connected.  Noah used the image of dominoes; Pope Francis uses the truth of God creating all life.

From the impact of the pandemic on marginalized people to the sting and suffering of racism on people of color, social sin is real.  We are experiencing this phenomenon, in painful ways, now more than ever.  I was moved by the recent words of Bishop Robert McElroy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego:

But of all the elements of original sin that weigh down our humanity, racial, ethnic and cultural prejudice are the most hateful and unceasing. It is a bitter mystery of the human soul why we find contentment in looking down upon, isolating and vilifying others because of the color of their skin or their national background. And it is particularly vile that we erect fences around racial and ethnic groups in the core of our souls, refusing so often even to recognize the sinfulness of the prejudice that lurks within us, whether that prejudice be overt or subtle, spoken or acted upon.

I am grateful that many of us have participated in the conversations hosted these past two Wednesdays, demonstrating our commitment to ending “the racial, ethnic, and cultural prejudice” as “the most hateful and unceasing” elements of our original sin. 

Juneteenth – today, June 19, is the national commemoration of the ending of slavery in our nation. In our prayer, reflection and service, I ask us to remember anew the importance of this day in our nation’s history.

In conclusion, today is also the Feast of the Sacred Heart when we recall the revelations in 1674 of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a member of the Visitation of Holy Mary co-founded by Jane de Chantal and Francis de Sales in 1610.  Wendy Wright, Salesian scholar and theology professor at Creighton University, wrote in “Gateway to God” that the Sacred Heart tradition gives us "access to some of the richest and most insightful dimensions of Christian spirituality and theology.”  She shares images of the heart as a vortex where paradoxes are held in tension, as gentle and humble, and as a milieu of creative suffering.  In the Salesian tradition here at DeSales University, these metaphors may serve as bridges between our embracing the Sacred Heart and the disarming of our own hearts in the difficult inner work of nonviolence.  Let us bring our wounded hearts to the Lord as we continue our learning and listening in this time of national turmoil.

Peace,
James J. Greenfield, OSFS, ‘84
President