The Holy Spirit Comes Down as Fire on All People

Source: Orthodox Christian Network

June 17, 2016

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all
together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from
heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all
the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to
them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each
one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave
them utterance.
Acts 2:1-4 Leave-Taking of the
Ascension

Many of us are familiar with the Old Testament story
of the Tower of Babel, as told in Genesis 11. We read in
that account that all of the people of the earth had one
language and few words. And they decided to come together
to build a tower to the heavens. So, God descended on
Babel and created languages, in order to confuse the
people so that they could not build a tower to heaven.
Because the way to heaven was not going to be a man-made
tower, it was going to be our Lord Jesus Christ. The Tower
of Babel marked the creation of all the languages of the
world, and with the diversity of languages also came a
division of peoples, for people only associated with those
who spoke the same language.

In the time of Christ, there was a great division of
languages and cultures. Jews and Samaritans did not like
one another. No one liked the Romans. And Gentiles were
considered barbarians by the Jews. So, when the Holy
Spirit descended upon the Disciples on Pentecost, He gave
them the ability to speak in all the languages of the
earth. And all those who were gathered in Jerusalem heard
the Good News of Christ in their own language.

At the time of the Ascension, when Jesus
“commissioned” the Disciples to “baptize
all nations,” (Matthew 28:16-20) they must have felt
very inadequate when thinking about this daunting task.
For not only would they need to travel to foreign lands
and encounter foreign customs, but they would also have to
be able to articulate the Gospel in foreign languages. The
grace of the Holy Spirit, again defined as that which
heals what is infirm and completes what is lacking, the
Godly quality that makes ordinary extraordinary, empowered
the simple fishermen to be able to speak in all the
languages known to men. Not only were they able to utter
words in these languages, they were able to speak with
eloquence and conviction. Think about that. These men who
had had doubts and fears throughout the earthly ministry
of Christ, were not only enabled to speak in all the
languages but to speak with such boldness and confidence
that three thousand people converted to the faith on that
very first day. (Acts 2:41) The Lord, who had once divided
the nations at Babel, now through the Holy Spirit, united
the world by allowing every person of every nation to hear
the Gospel in his or her own language.

The Holy Spirit comes into each of us, as He did for each
of the disciples. As the flames came on each disciple,
bringing them a specific language to speak and eloquence
with which to speak it, the Holy Spirit has come into each
of us. The Spirit comes into each of us. He gives to each
of us a talent by which to glorify Him and to serve one
another. Some are doctors, some are farmers, some are
mechanics and others are teachers. There are thousands
upon thousands of different and unique talents, all of
which are needed for our world to work.

The other thing that the Spirit does is that it gives each
of us a unique and special way to proclaim the Gospel. A
few are called to be priests and serve the church as their
life’s work. But it is not just the priests who are
called to share the Gospel. Each of us has a talent to
proclaim the Gospel. Some can do it as Sunday school
teachers, others can sing in the choir, some can be
greeters, and others can visit the sick. Any and all of us
should cultivate the ability to pray for others and to
pray with them. There are hundreds of way to express the
Gospel.

As important as it is to cultivate our talents so that we
can maintain a vocation, it is equally as important to
cultivate our unique talent by which we further the
message of the Gospel. And it is really important that we
remember this as we prepare for our careers and as we
advance in our careers. It is important that we also
continually advance in our knowledge of the Gospel and of
spiritual things, and it is important that we strive
continually in ways large and small to advance the Gospel
of Jesus Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit. None of us are
likely to see tongues of fire on our heads, the way that
the Holy Spirit came on the Apostles. But all of us have
tongues of fire in our hearts, the light of the Holy
Spirit burning in us. It is up to us to stoke the fire and
spread the message. Come back tomorrow to learn the
various languages of the Gospel and how to speak them.

When the Most High God came down and confused the
tongues, He divided the nations. When He distributed the
tongues of fire, He called all to unity. And with one
voice we glorify the all-Holy Spirit. (Kontakion,
Pentecost, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)

Let the “fire” of the Holy Spirit burn in your
heart and inspire your life today!

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