Deacon’s Corner: The Many Tongues of Pentecost

Deacon Kane

The Spirit is among us! What a joyous feeling this is!

I remember as a child being taught about Pentecost and learning that when the Spirit descended upon the apostles, they began proclaiming in different languages. I never quite got that glossolalia stuff.

Let’s take a quick forward 62 or 63 years later. Last week, my home parish, St. Francis of Assisi, had its first Mass offered in Tagalog for our Filipino brothers and sisters. Then on the following Saturday I happily attended St. Francis’ first Mass for Spanish-speaking people.

While praying during the Spanish liturgy I was happily struck by the feeling of how good I felt even though I couldn’t understand a word. The feelings of love and community just filled me up.

Last week also saw me going to Arden Court Alzheimer Care Unit, Brookdale Assisted Living Facility, and the Pierre Toussaint Food Pantry in Newark. In all of these places I met people who, when they spoke, I sometimes understood and sometimes didn’t. It didn’t make any difference.

At times like these, I experience a calm and serenity I don’t usually have. I can only ascribe this to the Holy Spirit being in my life. Do I have physical proof? No. Do I know this to be true? Yes!

In each step I take along this path of life, I feel, I know, the Spirit is alive and present, always forgiving and loving. I love learning to listen in ways other than with my ears alone. Sometimes we can communicate without words.

And, oh yes, that ‘glossolalia stuff’ makes a lot more sense now too! For me, the gift of tongues is the gift to understand each other even if we speak different languages or ascribe to different cultural norms. We, as people, can understand each other if we try. We don’t have to live in ignorance and hatred.

Sometimes, we can understand another even if we only use body language and smiles. At the Alzheimer care unit, when some of the folks perk up and began singing an old familiar hymn, their eyes light up momentarily and they and I communicate.

Actions can speak louder than words. We are given an opportunity to live in community, in a conscious, loving way. This is an awesome gift from God to us. Let’s try to accept and live the gift more and more each day.

Deacon Pat Kane

St. Francis of Assisi ANCC (Glen Ridge, JN)

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