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作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父
“They were all filled with
the Holy Spirit and began to speak
in different tongues…”
“…each of us hear them in his own
native language..” (Acts 2:4,8)
“Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves…”
“That is why it was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the speech of all the world.” (Gen. 11:4,9)
Back in December, I wrote about the Tower of Babel as the desire to be remembered. In this article I would like to reflect on a different aspect of this desire in relationship with Pentecost. Although the Tower of Babel is not exactly historical, while Pentecost was, we can still compare the two and come up with some very important lessons.
When we put the two events side by side, we can see something interesting. In the Babel story, people speaking the same language were confused and so “scattered all over the world.” They were no longer in unity, of one heart and one mind. In the Pentecost event, people of different languages could now understand the apostles telling them the marvels of Jesus.
In Genesis, after the Fall, when Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, they no longer walked in the presence of God. They were no longer close to Him, and lost sight of God. Sin began to escalate and concluded with the Babel story in chapter 11. God is trying to teach us that we bring disorder and chaos in life through sin. Even with the best of intentions, we do not have unity of heart. We work against each other. Even if we speak the same language, we could not hear each other. Isn’t that what we experience in life?
In my experience working with marriage counseling, a couple often let emotions and pains overwhelm them in their conversations. All they hear are the anger and pain directed at each other. They can’t hear the issues being brought up. They misread each others’ intentions, hearing only half the words spoken, jumping to conclusions and becoming defensive. All they wanted was to protect their own interests. They are no longer striving to be one. This happens to people that say they love each other.
Contrast that with children playing with each other, children so young they don’t even speak words or complete sentences. How often we find them enjoying each other and “babbling” away as if they were the best of friends. This is because they were not thinking of themselves, until they fight over some toys or something.
Here it lies the message of Pentecost. The Spirit of God, the Spirit of Unity and Love, opened the hearts and minds of those gathered with the apostles. It was the Holy Spirit that opened their “ears”. The Holy Spirit overcame the seeming differences in language and enabled them to “hear” the message of Jesus.
When we find ourselves having a difficult time in a conversation, in a discussion or even in an argument, stop. Sincerely pray to the Holy Spirit. Then return to the conversation. In fact, begin each serious conversation with prayer. Strive for the unity of mind and heart and not self-perceived priorities and importance. Settle the differences in the Spirit of Love.
One other thought regarding differences. The differences and subsequent arguments are not the real threat to unity. The unwillingness to overcome them is. The greatest blessing of God here on earth is the grace to triumph over sin, in relationships. The most valuable lesson parents teach their children about life is the courage and the insistence to overcome personal struggles that help them face the real challenges in their lives.
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