|Spirit United World|
Today we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus' disciples enabling them to fearlessly bring his message to the world. The Holy Spirit's work and influence is absolutely necessary if we ever hope to love one another and our neighbor, live in the peace that Jesus left us, and maintain a visible unity that we help the world believe in Jesus and the Father.
The description of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles is a reversal of what happened in the Tower of Babel story we read about in Genesis 11. Here's some background that might help us understand the Spirit's coming:
God told Adam and Eve to multiply and fill the earth, but one of the problems was that the first inhabitants didn't want to spread out. They had one language with just a few words. They were content where they were. Needing a goal, they (in Babylon) decided to build a tower that would connect earth to heaven. They easily forgot God and his desire to fill the earth. The tower, not God's will, became their obsession. They worked on it night and day. That many died in the process didn't stop them to reconsider what they were doing.
God saw the pride of the people and decided to confuse (babel) their simple language. This is the origin of the development of different cultures and languages. That first people were scattered and spread out. God's plan of "filling the earth" was unfolding. Unfortunately, the violence that started with the fall of Adam and Eve and the slaying of Abel by Cain continued in the world. People found their unity by being over against other peoples. What we call the "History of Salvation" is God's plan to unify all the scattered people of the earth, gathering them in a Kingdom where God's love is acknowledged and where all people love one another.
Pentecost is the day when the Holy Spirit communicates this message of God's love in Jesus to "every race, tribe, nation, and tongue." When the disciples, filled with the Spirit, preach to the representatives of many nations, they all hear the message in their own language. The "confusion" of Babel is reversed. Jesus, by his death, resurrection, and ascension, makes this outpouring of the Spirit possible. Jesus had told his disciples, "Unless I go, the Spirit can not come to you." The Spirit, out-poured on the earth, will make real unity among people possible. There will be, and is now, a long way to go.
Last week we ended on the importance of the Holy Eucharist as a Sacrament of Unity. Gather with others in God's love and be fed by Jesus' Body and Blood. This "gathering" doesn't necessarily depend upon us knowing each other well or feeling particularly close to one another, but comes more out of the call we have received by God. By the Spirit, all men and women are adopted children of God the Father, revealed by Jesus. If God is everyone's Father, we are related to one another. Those who are baptized already, mirror this reality to the world, relating to all our fellow brothers and sisters, from every race, tribe, nation, and language, as family.
What does all this mean? What does Pentecost mean? It means, I think, to ask everyday to be renewed in the Spirit of our baptism and then work, with the Holy Spirit's help, to bring down all walls and barriers, physical and economic between peoples. This has not been our way as fallen human beings, building walls to "protect" our interests, but it is God's way. God the Holy Spirit will and is helping us to overcome the effects of our sin and division we see everyday in the "news." This is the vision of Pentecost, meant not only for the Church, born on this day, but for the whole world. This is Good News! Alleluia!
Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.
THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH WELCOMES EVERYONE