I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It MeansFr. Barnabas Powell
You remember the story of the Tower of Babel in the First Testament. If not, refresh your memory by reading about the ambitions of humanity in Genesis 11:1-9. Suffice it to say that a unity of purpose is only as good as the motivation of that purpose!
Sunday is the Feast of Pentecost and the fathers call the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the reversal of the Tower of Babel. At the Tower of Babel confusion was introduced into the language of humanity. At the Day of Pentecost the confusion of languages was reversed.
At the heart of both events was the revelation of humanity’s motivations. At Babel humanity pridefully attempted to do what humanity pridefully always tries to do: Reach God without God.
At Pentecost, the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and declared to everyone how to reach God with God.
Notice, both goals were to reach God, to be with God. But one motivation was to show that humanity didn’t need God to reach God and Pentecost showed the world what would happen if humanity, in humility, desired God because they loved God.
Over and over again, in my own life I have experienced both of these realities. There have been times in my life I’ve said ” OK God, I got this. If I need you, I’ll call you.” In those times I’ve watched my plans fail and my strength be diminished with little to show for the effort. But other times I’ve said “God, I constantly need You, Your strength, Your grace, Your mercy. Please bless my efforts and grant me Your blessing.” At those times I’ve had strength I didn’t realize I had. I experienced insight into a situation that I knew didn’t come from me, and I’ve seen great benefit come to everyone in the work granted to me. So, how is it I keep falling into the former trap and not consistently practicing the latter?
It all depends on my keeping my attention on my relationship with God. When I am diligent in maintaining my relationship with God, I stay awake to my constant need of God and my growing love for God. As my love for God grows, my attention more easily remains on Him Who is my only source of life.
Today, as we approach the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Pentecost, let us actively pray every day for the life giving Presence of the Spirit in our lives and cultivate that Presence by daily doing those spiritual disciplines that keep God at the front of my mind rather than a mere afterthought.
So, Come Holy Spirit. Renew my love for God. Heal my divided heart. And give me strength to share Your love with all I see.
Postscript – Your writer will be away at St. Stephen’s Summer camp as director of the first week of our summer camp ministry to our youth. Next week’s updates will be more sporadic, depending on internet connection and schedule. Please know you will remain my my prayers.