When I worked in Mexico for a summer at a children’s home during my college years, I was fully immersed in Spanish night and day. We were located up on the hillside in the low income area of the city. I had one day off each week, and usually I would travel down to the resort area along the beaches so that I might just hear someone speaking English. Just hearing it gave me a boost. Hearing your most intimate language, the language you have known since you first began to speak, is a soothing, calming experience when you are in a place that you are not used to hearing your own language and your mind is always working on overdrive to listen and interpret what you are hearing around you. I have seen it many times when I meet a native Spanish speaker here in the US. When I can offer some words in Spanish to them, their face relaxes, and they are clearly more comfortable in conversation when they hear their most intimate language being spoken.
That is the feeling the Jews from many nations must have experienced when they heard their own languages being spoken in Jerusalem on that Pentecost day. It was a pleasant shock. “Oh, yes! I understand completely! This is comfortable. This is good news.” Remember that Peter and the other disciples are Jews speaking to other Jews who have gathered for the annual religious celebration called the Feast of Weeks, always held 50 days after Passover to mark the giving of the Torah and offering up first fruits to God. In Greek it was called Pentecost, pente meaning 50. This year Pentecost turned into something very different, an unexpected way for God to communicate with them. Continue reading “Spirit Aflame”