The lectionary provides a number of options for the scripture readings on Pentecost. There is the familiar story in the book of Genesis about the tower of Babel. The people are building a city with tower so they can make a name for themselves and not be scattered all over the earth. God confuses their language so they cannot understand one another and they became scattered from there all over the earth. It is one of the four “sin stories” told in Genesis. People become isolated from God and from each other and lack the power to undo the harm they have caused.
The story of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles tells the story of how God undoes the harm done by division. The Holy Spirit enables the apostles to speak so that people from different parts of the world can understand them. From division the Holy Spirit brings about unity. In his letter to the Corinthians Paul reminds us, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit…To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.”
It is this Spirit we ask to guide our church. Flor McCarthy, SDB writes a reflection on how the Spirit is at work in our world today.
On Pentecost day the apostles spoke a new language.
What was this language?
It was the language of peace rather than war;
the language of cooperation rather than competition;
the language of forgiveness rather than of vengeance;
the language of hope rather than of despair;
the language of tolerance rather than of bigotry;
the language of friendship rather than of hostility;
the language of unity rather than of division;
the language of love rather than of hate.
Through the gift of the Spirit, people of different languages learned to profess one faith,
to the praise and glory of God.
That is the real miracle of Pentecost,
and it is a miracle which, thankfully, still happens.
(New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies)
Congratulations to all who are graduating this year. I pray that the Holy Spirit guides you as you enter into a new phase of your life.