As I reflected on our readings for Pentecost in preparation for writing this letter and the homily for Mass, a clear theme jumped out at me: unity in diversity.
In our first reading, the account of the descent of the Holy Spirit and the immediate effects on the disciples, we are told that “all languages and cultures” understood what the disciples were saying. This is a direct undoing of the consequences of the Tower of Babel: as pride and competition brought about disunity, misunderstanding, and conflict, the Holy Spirit brings unity in our diversity.
Paul reinforces this in his letter to the Corinthians, using the analogy of our physical body. While we are all unique and have different gifts and functions, we are all one body and each part is necessary for the body to work properly. The brain and the heart might seem to be the most important, but if one of the organs deemed less important stops functioning, the whole body is doomed. We are different and have different functions, but all are important for the Body of Christ.
Finally, our Gospel gives us the key to bringing about this “unity in diversity”: forgiveness. John’s short account of the appearance of Jesus on Easter evening has him talking about two things: peace and forgiveness. Forgiveness is the key to unity in diversity. Each person sees things differently. We will annoy one another. But, when we can forgive one another, we will have unity and peace, despite our diversity.
That is what Jesus wants for us and He has given us lots of help in His Word, His Body and Blood, our Community, and the Holy Spirit. As we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birthday of our Community, let us thank God for His many gifts with a joyful heart, resolving to continue to grow in our ability to be forgiving and compassionate.
Church sign of the week: The Holy Spirit has better directions than your GPS.