Sunday, June 04, 2006
Come, Holy Spirit
In an earlier post I described the relationship between Pentecost and the giving of the Law at Sinai. Of course, Benedict is well aware of the connection. Here's some of his homily from today:
The images used by St. Luke to indicate the irruption of the Holy Spirit -- wind and fire -- recall the Sinai, where God revealed himself to the people of Israel and offered his covenant (cf. Exodus 19:3 and following). The feast of Sinai, which Israel celebrated 50 days after the Passover, was the feast of the Covenant.
On speaking of the tongues of fire (cf. Acts 3), St. Luke wants to represent Pentecost as a new Sinai, as the feast of the new Covenant, in which the Covenant with Israel is extended to all the nations of the earth. The Church has been catholic and missionary from her birth. The universality of salvation is manifested with the list of the numerous ethnic groups to which those belonged who heard the apostles' first proclamation (cf. Acts 2:9-11).
The People of God, which had found its first configuration in Sinai, extends today to the point of surmounting every barrier of race, culture, space and time. As opposed to what occurred with the tower of Babel, when people wanted to build a way to heaven with their hands, they ended up by destroying their very capacity to understand one another mutually. The Pentecost of the Spirit, with the gift of tongues, shows that his presence unites and transforms confusion into communion. Man's pride and egoism always creates divisions, builds walls of indifference, hatred and violence.
The Holy Spirit, on the contrary, makes hearts capable of understanding everyone's languages, as it re-establishes the bridge of authentic communication between earth and heaven. The Holy Spirit is love.