Pentecost: The Holy Spirit’s Anti-Babel


Genesis 11:4-9
And they said: Come, let us make a city and a tower, the top whereof may reach to heaven; and let us make our name famous before we be scattered abroad into all lands.  And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of Adam were building.  And he said: Behold, it is one people, and all have one tongue: and they have begun to do this, neither will they leave off from their designs, till they accomplish them in deed.  Come ye, therefore, let us go down, and there confound their tongue, that they may not understand one another’s speech. And so the Lord scattered them from that place into all lands, and they ceased to build the city.  And therefore the name thereof was called Babel, because there the language of the whole earth was confounded: and from thence the Lord scattered them abroad upon the face of all countries.


Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11 And when the days of the Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place:  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming: and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  And there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire: and it sat upon every one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost: and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak.  Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.  And when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded in mind, because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue.  And they were all amazed, and wondered, saying: Behold, are not all these that speak Galilean?  And how have we heard, every man our own tongue wherein we were born?  Parthians and Medes and Elamites and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,  Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome,  Jews also, and proselytes, Cretes, and Arabians: we have heard them speak in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.

***

At Babel, the people were divinely confounded and then dispersed, in an effort to frustrate their efforts, which were obviously at odds with the will of God.

At Pentecost, the people were first divinely confounded (notice the similar term used  in both passages) but then divinely inspired and dispersed … this time, in a most energetic effort to “jump start” the infant church, planting the seeds necessary for miraculous growth in “every nation under heaven”.

The “moral” of this story:


Psalms 127:1 A gradual canticle of Solomon. Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Pentecost Homily

Click here for more (PDF file format)

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