Updated: Oct 19, 2021
PENTECOST: A UNITY IN DIVERSITY EXPERIENCE
On Pentecost day, apart from the tongue of fire that came upon the apostles, the most striking experience of that day was when the people, mesmerized by what they were seeing and experiencing, declared: “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt, and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues” (Acts 2:9-11). What an experience in unity in diversity! The message is simple; when it comes to God and His message of salvation, we all come under one umbrella. Although we are diverse in gender, color, race, culture, ethnicity, origin, and nationality, it is still one baptism, one God, one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, one creator, with justice and equality for all. The truth is that, at the foot of the Cross, there are no hills and valleys, no upstairs and basements, and no Jews and Gentiles. Yet, in one of the darkest moments in our history, the Church reasoned and taught that slavery was a natural deterrent and a Christianizing influence on the people of Sub-Saharan Africa, and therefore encouraged the nations “to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, subdue, and reduce their persons [i.e. Sub-Sahara Africans] to perpetual slavery.” To date, this statement, a curse on a people, has not been renounced or recanted, and as we can see, its effects have endured over the ages.
On this Pentecost Day, the Psalmist prays, “Lord send forth your spirit, and renew the face of the earth”; a call for all of us to help create “the new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). As Christians, it is very important that we start giving utmost importance to this Pentecost call. We need an inner conversion; a personal conviction that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed, by their creator, with certain inalienable rights; a personal resolve to respect all peoples as children of God most high. We need to pray that the good Lord will give us the courage to bear witness to the dignity of every human being, to heal the pain of discrimination and prejudice; to uproot the destructive power of systemic racism and bigotry; to raise those who because of their background have their backs on the ground; those whose zip codes, color, race, and gender, inhibit opportunities and possibilities for the development of their God-given talents and abilities. The message of Pentecost is very simple; Only Jesus Christ can save us. None of these acts of man’s inhumanity to man can save. None of the privileges we seek in the abode of discrimination, bigotry, racism, isolationism, nationalism, homophobic and xenophobic tendencies can save. The only name that can save is Jesus Christ. Let us focus on Him because He is the author and finisher of our lives. Pentecost is not about speaking in tongues; it is about hearing the same message, that all men are created equal and that Jesus Christ is the only one Lord, no matter who you are, how you are, where you are, and what tongue you speak. Let us reach out and touch somebody with love, with care, with attention, with hope, and with welcome, doing all because we are all children of the same Creator and Father, God Almighty.