They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his own native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.” They were all astounded and bewildered, and said to one another, “What does this mean?” But others said, scoffing, “They have had too much new wine.”
In the Book of Genesis (11:1-9), the writer tells the story of the Tower of Babel. God jumbles the language of the people working on this Tower so as not to have them become too powerful. At this moment during the feast of Pentecost, God reverses the Babel event and gives his disciples the capacity to speak to everyone in their own language. This event accentuates the Spirit’s movement to unite all people. Catholicism means “universal.” The Gospel is meant for all cultures and languages.
Secondly, this miracle is the gift of understanding and not the gift of tongues that is talked about in 1 Corinthians 14. We must'nt confuse the gift of speaking in tongues (praising God in unknown tongues) with Acts 2:7. We also read in verse 13 that there are some Jews who are cynical about this miracle. They think that the disciple are drunk with wine. I think about all the times when I have been cynical about miracles or good news! We should rebuke this attitude. The tendency is to want cold hard facts about things like this. This is a terribly boring way to view God and His truths. Don’t be the Debbie downer when friends have good news and joy to share with you. We must be excited with them and for them!
As a final point, yesterday we mentioned that the Holy Spirit is often associated with wind and fire. In previous verses we read that he came down on the apostles and tongues of fire were above their heads. In Luke’s Gospel, when John the Baptist spoke of baptism, “He said that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (3:16). In the Book of Exodus (19:18), Moses leads the people to the base of Mount Sinai where they experience thunder, lightning, and a great cloud shrouding the top of the mountain. The visitation from God comes as smoke enveloping Mount Sinai because ‘the Lord had come down upon it in fire’ (Ligouri Catholic Bible Study).” To add to this, the Holy Spirit is associated with water. We read in John 3:5 we hear that we have to be born of water. The Holy Spirit works through water in our baptism. In 1 Peter 3:20 we read that “souls were saved through water,” and in 1 John 5:6 we recall that the Holy Spirit comes by water. Water is EVERYWHERE in scripture. What does this mean? I believe God wants to let us know that our souls need water (the Holy Spirit) like our bodies need water. We can go days without food, but we easily perish without drink. The Holy Spirit is life giving water for our souls! We need Him just as much as we need the Father and the Son. Water can be just as ferocious as wind and fire. Tsunamis and hurricanes destroy towns in an instant.
Reflection: Yesterday we asked ourselves how the Holy Spirit is burning away impurities in our lives. How, with his mighty wind, is he blowing down barriers that keep us from him? I want to pose another way of thinking about this. How is the Holy Spirit lifting you up to himself? How is the water of the Spirit rushing through you? How is the fire of his Spirit burning in you? Shalom. Xoxo.