This Pentecost, Overcoming the Babel of Misunderstanding
May 30, 2020
Jesus, Risen from the dead, has left us! The Gift of the Holy Spirit starts as a loss! But Jesus assures us that the Indwelling of the Spirit is BETTER!
This spiritual truth echoes a developmental one; as children, we learn to trust and obey (or fear) our parents and authority and to consider “good” whatever they approve or reward. Many find it easy to continue this into adulthood—to remain loyal to some external authority. We may adhere to what some person or party tells us is good or bad without really examining issues or learning from others. We unconsciously or consciously categorize others as worthy or unworthy based on visible criteria such as whether they claim our same religion, our culture, our color or even our body weight or economic status!
The mature spiritual person can, instead, follow the promptings of the Spirit by an inner discernment. We learn to distinguish the desires of the flesh versus the fruits of the spirit:
“…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22–23)
As choices and dilemmas emerge, the adult considers reason, the wisdom of others and available facts, but the listening for Truth and the Way is in the body; we give our attention to subtle signals of peace and joy and attraction. We consider foreseeable consequences for oneself and for others. The actual experience then guides further: Did this lead me to be more gentle? More generous? Should I continue on this path or correct my course?
Today’s Scriptures tell us of God’s dreams for us and assure us that this kind of deep freedom is exactly what He calls us to!
“Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young people see visions,” and “even upon the servants and the handmaids (essential workers?) … I will pour out my spirit.”
“You did not receive a spirit of slavery or fear … but of adoption.”
“Whoever loves me will keep my word … and we will come and make our dwelling with him/her.”
And then we are shown what our world will look like when enough of us live in accord with this Holy Spirit: People who feel dry and lifeless are made flesh and live! The migrants are given a homeland!
Imagine if we were to recreate the first Pentecost miracle wherein the Babel of misunderstanding between peoples is overcome with language and good news that everyone understands! Perhaps even more impressive to us as Americans, we witness the first Christians in true communal life:
“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and … All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.”
Wouldn’t we all behave more generously if we were confident that our gifts and dreams were welcome and our needs would be met?