This is the weekend of Pentecost Sunday. We associate this day with the Holy Spirit’s possession of Jesus’ disciples, enabling them to speak many foreign languages. But we can also look at Pentecost as the day when people of many nationalities learned they were one in the spirit. This was a moment of self-discovery for those people who witnessed the disciples speaking their language, as we read in acts 2:1-11
“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 hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”
The disciples were speaking one language—the language of God, which was mankind’s native tongue until we fell from God’s grace. In that moment, God gave these people the grace to remember what it was like to be of one spirit, of one nationality. They saw both their origin and their potential. They felt as John Glenn must have felt when he saw God’s good earth from space for the first time: a single blue sphere encrusted with borderless land masses. No man-made divisions in sight. No turf battles were visible either. Yet Glenn knew there was a collective soul down there wishing him Godspeed via the universal language of the spirit: prayer.
It took many talents of man to get Glenn up into space, all culminating in that single view of mankind. Paul explains this spiritual duality to the Corinthians in this Sunday’s second reading (1 cor 12:3b-7, 12-13):
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.”
And while the first two readings of Pentecost Sunday give us a review of our spiritual roots, the Gospel reading from John (jn 20:19-23) offers a preview of our spirit’s destination through Christ’s resurrection. Jesus breathes the spirit of authority into his disciples, and they share that one authority equally—empowering them to offer that same gift of the spirit with the rest of mankind:
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you. … Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
When Christ returns there will be but one race sharing his Kingdom: The Forgiven.