“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 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.”’
How many of us can pronounce the names of these various tribes and cities, let alone speak the languages they spoke? The diversity of the Pentecost crowd is abundant; the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome human divisions is superabundant. Sin divides, but God unites. The divisions that began with human pride at the tower of Babel are consecrated and unified by the Holy Spirit into a beautiful harmony of diverse voices singing together in praise of God. Though our worship is expressed in a multitude of flavors in the various cultures within our catholic (universal) Church, it is one God that we worship together.
This diversity within unity is the earthly expression of the three Divine Persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All three share one Divine Essence, but they are distinguished for us by their Processions. The Son is sent by the Father, and the Father and Son together send the Spirit, yet in God’s actions outside of Himself, God acts as one. We receive one God in the Eucharist. We are inspired by one God in the actions of the Holy Spirit present in the Church. We pray to one God, Father, Son, and Spirit. In this is no contradiction. Unity and diversity are held in perfect tension, neither negating nor diminishing the other.
On this Pentecost Sunday, may our various expressions of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit enrich the Church in many and various ways. May our unity of worship give praise to God and hope to God’s people. Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts and enkindle in us the fire of Your Love.