Maybe it’s because it seems like such a lightening rod for controversy and division, or maybe it’s because of past experiences, but I have to admit that I’m not always excited for Pentecost Sunday to roll around. I feel bad I’m not always able to celebrate the birth of our Church with the joy and excitement I should. But this year I’m going to try a little harder, hopefully try to contemplate a little more deeply on what this day is really about.
The bible tells us of a time when the whole world spoke the same language. During this time, men began to mold and harden bricks with their hands and proudly try to build a tower to reach God. But God in His almighty and infinite wisdom confused their language and scattered the people all over the earth. You’ll recognize this of course as the story of the Tower of Babel.
Fast-forward to 33AD Jerusalem, fifty days after the birthing pains of the Church, Jesus Christ’s passion. Pentecost was a Jewish feast occurring 50 days after Passover originally used to celebrate the harvest of the first fruits. Jewish people from all over would come to Jerusalem for this feast. But this year would be different. This year God was not interested in the first fruits from a harvest of fruit or grain, but that of men. This is the setting in which the infant Church was born.
All around, people of different nations were unable to communicate as a result of the scattering and confusing of the people at Babel. But from the sky came the sound of a driving wind, a sound the filled the house where the followers of Jesus were. Tongues of fire separated from the same source appeared over each of their heads.
God had chosen throughout history to reveal His presence as wind and fire to His people, but this time it was different. While in the past God shown His presence outside man, this was the first time the God, through the Holy Spirit, had filled His people with His presence. Man had become the temple of the Holy Spirit; a living theophany. Like a burning bush, men’s hearts would now burn with the presence of God.
The disciples were given the ability to communicate to the crown in each of their own languages. At a time when “Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem,” God had gathered a scattered people and lifted the confusion of Babel.
God began to mold and harden the disciples with the fire of His love like the men of Babel had molded and harden bricks with their hands. And in the midst of it all, a new tower was raised that stretched to God. With Jesus as its cornerstone, the faithful as the bricks, and the Holy Spirit as the mortar holding it together; the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church was born. This tower leading to God was not build by man’s hands or effort, but by the very grace of God.
So this Sunday I’m going to do my best to be thankful for the wonderful gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Church, and not be distracted by any unfortunate events that may occur. May the Holy Spirit actively work in all of our lives to sanctify us and consume our hearts with God’s love. And my we never forget what a gift Mother Church is.
Is it me, or does it feel like the winds are beginning to pick-up?