St. Dominic Catholic Church

2002 Merton Ave | Los Angeles, CA 90041 | (323) 254-2519


My Father's Burro 2020-5-31 Pentecost Fr. Roberto



Homily for Pentecost – Years ABC
Fr. Roberto Corral, OP 
St. Dominic’s Parish, Los Angeles, CA
May 31, 2020

Title: My Father’s Burro
Theme: Sometimes it takes a fire to get us to move.
Readings: Acts 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23

My father was born in 1906 in a small town in northern Mexico. He once told me that when he was a little boy, about 6 or 7, he was put in charge of the family burro or donkey. It was his job to take the burro around the town and use it to carry things back to their home. Everything was fine for the first few days; but then one day, after my father had loaded the burro with some things and they were heading home, the burro simply stopped in its tracks and refused to move one more step. My father tried pulling the burro by the rope that was tied to it – nothing. Then he tried pushing it from behind – nothing. Finally, he whacked the burro on the behind as hard as he could, and still the burro did not move. 

My father was so frustrated that he began to cry, and ran home to one of his older brothers for help. His older brother walked back with him to where the burro was still standing and calmly showed my father what to do. He told my father to gather together whatever dry grass, leaves and twigs or trash he could find close by. Then he told my father to pile all that dry stuff underneath the burro’s belly. When my father had done that, his brother pulled out a match and lit the little pile of stuff on fire. And sure enough, as soon as that little burro felt the fire touch his belly he moved! In fact, he took off running! So my dad had to run after it and bring it back. But he got it to move; and he told me that this trick worked every single time.

Well, sometimes it takes a fire to make us human beings move too, right? And that is what we celebrate today on this feast of Pentecost: the fire of the Holy Spirit that made those first disciples of Jesus take off like my father’s burro. The Holy Spirit is God’s Holy Fire that lit a flame in the disciples’ hearts – and under their rear ends! Because, you see, Jesus’ disciples had been stuck like that burro for seven weeks. For seven weeks, they knew that Jesus had risen from the dead. For seven weeks, the risen Lord had appeared to them several times. And yet, for seven weeks they were still paralyzed by fear, uncertainty, and doubt and simply could not move forward in their lives – they were stuck. So, for seven weeks they had been hiding behind locked doors, not sure what they were supposed to do. 

Then something happened to them on this feast of Pentecost: the Holy Spirit came upon them in tongues of fire, our first reading said, and they were changed…forever. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit lit them on fire, and then they burst through those locked doors, began to preach about Jesus and never turned back. They were no longer afraid, no longer uncertain, and no longer stuck. After Pentecost, this bunch of paralyzed cowards became unstoppable. They became so courageous, so passionate, and so focused in their faith that thousands of people joined them. And the Holy Spirit did not stop there. The Spirit continued to light on fire generation after generation of Christians until eventually, after 300 years, Christianity overcame the greatest empire the world had ever known! We Christians not only overcame the Roman Empire, we converted it to Christianity! Amen? Amen!

My brothers and sisters, this is our Catholic, Christian heritage! This is what the Holy Spirit has continued to do for 2,000 years. Just look at the incredible history of our Catholic Church; look at all the saints, martyrs and others who have impacted our lives, our Church and our world precisely because the Holy Spirit lit them on fire. And, guess what? You and I received that same Holy Spirit at our Baptism and Confirmation, and it is inside of us right now! God did not give you and me a different Holy Spirit or any less of the Holy Spirit than he gave those early Christians or any of those saints. So, the question is, what are you and I doing with the fire and the power of the Holy Spirit that is within us?  

Now, this does not mean that you have to go out and do something that is going to make the news or that you have to become a fanatic of some sort. More than anything, it means living your faith with purpose and with passion. Can you say that you live your Catholic faith with purpose and passion? God did not give us his Holy Spirit, this incredible power and life within us just so that we could be passive, mediocre, cultural, going-through-the-motions Catholics! God wants us to live our faith with purpose and passion, with courage and commitment. 

And, I don’t know about you, but I think we can use that kind of faith in our world right now, especially during this pandemic and during the recent riots, can’t we? Right now our world needs Catholics who see all people as children of God, whatever their color, race, religion or political party is. We need Catholics who treat others with respect and dignity and do not abuse their power and authority. We need Catholics who are courageous enough to protest against the injustices in our world, but who do so peacefully without violence or looting. Our world needs Catholics who are generous and noble enough to continue to sacrifice, serve and care for others in this pandemic even if it means inconvenience and even risk for themselves. We need Catholics who, because they trust in God, continue to be grateful, peaceful and even joyful in the midst of this difficult time. That is who God wants us to be as Spirit-filled and Spirit-fired Catholic Christians.

So, at this time, I would like to do what I did here at St. Dominic’s once before; I would like to have an altar call because I think the Holy Spirit wants to bless and fill every one of us with his grace, his strength and his fire. Of course, it would be nice if we were all together in the church, as we were the last time I did this, but the Holy Spirit is not limited or diminished by our current situation of social distancing. So, for those of you watching at home, I invite you to stand or to kneel, if you can, as I lead you through this prayer for the Holy Spirit to come upon you once again. You may open up your hands with the palms facing upward as a sign of your willingness to receive what the Lord wants to give you at this time. I invite you now to focus, take a deep breath and open your heart and your mind to the Lord. Please repeat after me:

Commitment Prayer
Lord Jesus, //thank you for sending your Spirit // upon your disciples at Pentecost // 
and upon me // at my Baptism and Confirmation. //
// I come before you now // and I ask you to release the power// of your Spirit within me. //

Give me a deeper faith; // give me a passionate faith. // Help me to fall more deeply //
in love with you.// Give me the courage// to overcome my fears and anxieties, // 
especially during this pandemic. //

And help me to let go of any feelings // of guilt or unworthiness // of resentment, bitterness or anger. // Holy Spirit, change me for the better; // and light my soul on fire. // Amen.


Now, I invite you to spend a few moments reflecting on the words you have just spoken and on the commitment you have made. You may remain standing or be seated and let the Lord speak to your heart…

As I said the last time we did an altar call at our Masses, this is not meant to be just a nice feeling for a while and then go back to “business as usual.” We must continue to open our hearts to God’s Holy Spirit and follow up on what we’ve done today. I’ve got some questions and suggestions for you to think about in today’s Mass packet.

For all of us, whether we made this prayer of commitment or not, let us remember we have the same Spirit, the same faith and the same mission as the first disciples of Jesus. And let us live out our Catholic faith with the courage, power and fire of the Holy Spirit. Amen!