EYES “Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,:
TOUCH “which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
I would have expected that after experiencing these things we would hear about how they felt. No mention of fear or anxiety, but “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”
In the passage which follows we hear about feelings:
“Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “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 of the mighty acts of God.”
When teaching the Acts of the Apostles using the Little Rock Study program, I made it a point to find all the places (tongue twisters for many) mentioned in what follows. For the world of Acts, these places were “every nation under heaven”.
Personally I wish the reading went two verses further: 12 “They were all astounded and bewildered, and said to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others said, scoffing, “They have had too much new wine.” More feelings astounded and bewildered, scoffing.
I love the human touch. too much new wine. Evidently the Galileans were intoxicated but not with new wine. Immediately following this we hear Peter’s Speech. It is rather long and has quite a bit of Salvation history, prophet Joel, the mighty acts of God concerning Jesus are summed up: vs. 22 Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know. Vs 24 But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it.
I do love the reaction of the listeners to Peter’s preaching: they were cut to the heart, and they asked Peter and the other apostles, “What are we to do, my brothers?” This statement and question offer each of us the opportunity to reflect on our experience of “cut to the heart” and also about what and to whom we have directed discernment questions in our own life.
The Responsorial Psalm: “If you take away their breath, they perish and return to their dust. When you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth. R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.”
These verses are haunting in light of our present reality. People with Covid 19 have trouble breathing, are put on ventilators. Some recover, others die. The verses are also a call to prayer. “When you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.” God created us and helps to re-create us.
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit…. and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” Easy to spend time with each of these bold statements.
SEQUENCE: A sequence not to rush through. I reccommend slowly reading and letting words impress you and spend some time with them.
“Doors were locked” ever have that experience? “Jesus came and stood in their midst.” Locked doors, even our own, no obstacle to Jesus. “Peace…” “I send you”. Pandemics can certainly take away peace. To what or whom is Jesus sending me? “He breathed on them.” Pandemic spreads by breath, sneezing, coffing and other means. Pandemic makes it hard for people to breath. Do I take my breath for granted? Breathe in and breathe out deeply. Accept the breath of the Spirit into your life. Spend some time with nature, creation.
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