This homily was written for our International mass, when the people led the worship in a wide variety of languages.
There are two occasion in Scripture when we hear people speaking in a wide variety of tongues.
The first is in Genesis, in the story of the Tower of Babel. The second is on the day of Pentecost.
In the first story the diversity of language is described as a kind of punishment for the arrogance of humanity. In the story, mankind says "look, we can do anything we like. We have the power even to build this great tower. Nothing is beyond our capability." Or, to put it another way they decided they could play God, because everything us within their grasp. It is a very familiar attitude today too. They thought they had no need of God, but the diversity of languages marks the weaknesses and limitations of humanity, especially a humanity whose only faith us in its own power.
In the second story, the first reading for today, the many tongues are not a punishment, but a blessing. They are a sign of God's creativity and also his extraordinary gifts. They nark a reaching out to the whole of humanity, abd the gift of geace which makes possible to humanity things it would otherwise br unable to do. They are a sign of the gift of the Holy Spirit, the evidence of the power if God's grace.
The first story is about division, distrust and suspicion. It is about human pride, and arrogance.
The story of the day of Pentecost, is rather different. It is about the grace of God, not human pride. It is about the Spirit of God calling together those who are so very different and granting them unity in diversity. It is about the love of God which embraces all people, all races, all nations and all languages. It is about the Power of God which blesses us with variety, and colour, creativity and difference.
It is about imagination and courage of humanity in response to God. It is the breath and fire of Pentecost. It is the descent of the Holy Spirit.
There are more photos of the Pentecost celebration on our Facebook page facebook.com/sacredheart
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