The progression of readings on Pentecost is quite beautiful for a modern-day listener. We live in a world that expresses and promotes individuality – what a beautiful thing! The recognition of one’s unique, irreplaceable role in history, one’s dignity, is pivotal; this comes from his or her very creation by an intelligent God of love. Yet, must we express individuality at the expense of relationship?
In the book of Acts, we see the Apostles gathered together in one place. A fisherman, a tax collector, a man of noble birth. Today we might see a janitor, an accountant, the grandson of a celebrity. They were gathered together, waiting for the one they had come to believe in to follow through, to send his Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes upon them, and suddenly, they are able to communicate with many from different regions, in languages they previously could not understand. This vision of unity is one filled with diversity – diversity in walks of life, diversity in culture. Yet, they are united by the promised Spirit. Trusting and abiding in Christ, they are moved into profoundly new relationships with others, yet becoming the one Body of Christ, the Church.
Paul echoes this sentiment in 1 Corinthians: Christ is one, and because we belong to his body, all of our quirks, colors, talents, and treasures are drawn into one remarkable whole. “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord” (1 Cor. 12:4-5). In my classroom, where conversations come alive, my students may or may not have parents; they may be wealthy; and some may not have eaten breakfast. Some are outspoken, some silent, and some star on the sports team. Yet, when we achieve anything, it is precisely the interaction of these voices, these personalities, to which we owe our classroom successes.
Pentecost reminds us that our gloriously unique abilities and personalities are raised to new heights as part of a whole. The Spirit of the living God unites us to achieve all that is good with our individual cooperation and does not compromise our identity, but rather elevates it. The fisherman and the tax collector, all on fire with the Holy Spirit, baptized many nations. What more, then, can we do?
By: Jessica Mazal
Teacher at Notre Dame Fairfield