by James Woody
translation Louise Thunin
Couldn’t we do something useful for Pentecost ? Couldn’t we make of Pentecost and its Monday off something more than one more long weekend ? There are bound to be those few who will remind teenagers of the grace that was conferred on them at their baptism. But indeed, isn’t ˝confirmation of the grace of our baptism˝ a religious formula that doesn’t mean much any more to anyone and that most Christians use today out of habit, rather than because it really makes sense to them ?
We can recall that Pentecost celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit, which manifests as tongues of fire to communicate Itself. Let’s do something with this image. The Biblical episode teaches that when we express ourselves, our words should pass through fire and not through lukewarm, conventional language. Spirit communicates in tongues of fire : here’s an idea that ought to encourage us to burn double talk, to consume it totally, to leave but a heap of ashes, over which we will shed no tears, for we are worth more than double talk. We are worth tongues of fire, precise language that nourishes itself with carefully chosen words and rhetoric. Beyond grammar, tongues of fire rid us of clever sayings that hide an absence of personal thought. They blight speech that is nothing more than a display of methodology or the expression of good intentions, conveying neither content nor conviction. Tongues of fire save us from mediocre discourse, the kind we pull out whatever the circumstances. Tongues of fire let us speak about God’s marvels, about what makes our lives infinitely beautiful and enjoyable.