Living the Gospel – Pentecost Sunday – May 20, 2018

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Like the wind, the force of the Holy Spirit cannot be contained; the Spirit of God has no boundaries

In Genesis 11: 1-9 we read the account of the Tower of Babel. In that time, the whole world had one language and a common speech. But, then the inhabitants of Shinar decided to make a name for themselves by building a tower to the heavens and become selfsufficient apart from God. God saw their pride and arrogance and confused their language so they could no longer work together as they were incapable of communicating with each other. Overcome with fear and frustration, they scattered throughout the earth. It wasn’t the building of the tower that was evil, but it was pride and arrogance synonymous with man’s revolt against God and….. it had its consequences.

In contrast, today’s First reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells us that the Holy Spirit filled the Apostles and enabled them to speak in different tongues to proclaim the Gospel, the Good News of God’s Kingdom and all who came where able to understand the proclamation of the mighty acts of God, each in his own language.

On Holy Thursday of this past Holy Week, as we celebrated a combined English and Vietnamese Mass, we experienced the moving of the Holy Spirit and the mystery of understanding members of our faith community who spoke a different language. It was one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had and for me it was a foreshadowing of Heaven. Before the celebration of the Last Supper began, the Vietnamese Choir entered the church dressed in beautiful long gowns with fabric designs native to their country. Then the English choir entered dressed in black, white and red; as the Mass began, the English choir sang the entrance hymn while the screens overhead displayed the words in Vietnamese. At the Offertory, the Vietnamese choir sang and the words displayed on the overhead screens were in English. As they sang, I closed my eyes and it seemed as if angels were singing; the words were in a different language, but in my heart I felt every word and it was so sweet. Two priests presided over the mass; Father Nick O’Brien, the parish priest and Father Joseph Bui, the Vietnamese assistant priest. When Father Nick gave his homily, it was easy to understand, but when Father Joe gave his homily in Vietnamese, though the words were unfamiliar, I could feel what he was saying as if he were speaking to my heart. At the washing of the feet, Father Nick and a Vietnamese Deacon washed the feet of 6 Vietnamese Parishioners and Father Joe, with an English Deacon, washed the feet of 6 other parishioners. The feeling of richness and beauty at that Mass is hard to describe, except for the fact that the “Holy Spirit” was truly moving in our hearts and souls and it felt like a glimpse of the unity of God’s people in heaven.

When we hear the news of border walls, extreme vetting and such, let us remember that we are all God’s children and there are no border walls in God’s Kingdom, for we will all sing His praises in one accord, with one language; the language of love. May God Bless You- English; Chua Phu` ho^ ban – Vietnamese; que Dios te bendiga –Spanish; Moge Gott Sie Segnen-German; God Zegene Je –Dutch; etc., etc.