Pentecost: A miracle of mutual understanding (June 8, 2014)

5.23.14 Basilica East WindowReadings for Pentecost Sunday

One of the most striking things about the first Pentecost is how so many people heard the Apostles speaking in their own language. Pentecost was a miracle of mutual understanding. I repeat that: Pentecost is a miracle of mutual understanding, in which a language was spoken that everyone immediately understood and could speak.

It is the language of our common humanity. A smile is universal. Laughter is universal. Grief is universal. Infants all over the world act the exact same way; in fact, infants have a unique ability to make adults speak a goofy language. Children around the world are universal in the way they play and make up their imaginary worlds. Teenagers act like teenagers the world over, as do young couples in love.

Tears are a universal, whether it be the deep sorrow of departure, or the exquisite happiness of reunion. Mothers identify with mothers holding a starving child. Fathers identify fully with fathers trying to put food on their family’s table and keep a roof over their heads. Clenched fists are commonly understood, as are open hands.

Every one of us can see, hear, sense and speak that common language. The real test of our humanity, however, is this: How do we respond? With compassion, empathy, assistance and prayer. Or with indifference, rejection or an uncaring “So what?”

Pentecost celebrates the Spirit who gives us new life and who enables us to reach out and give new life to others. The fullness of the Spirit is present to every one of us, without exception. There’s no such thing as one person having more Spirit and another person having less. If we understand this, we’ll have no trouble understanding each other, relating to each other and rebuilding our world in the image and likeness of the Kingdom of God.

Be God’s smile for someone today!

Fr. Herb Yost, C.S.C.Fr. Herb Yost, C.S.C.

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