Gift of the Torah, Gift of the Holy Spirit

ChagallDiversity of languages, unity in understanding each other…Do we remember what happened with the Babel Tower [i]   (Gn 11,1-9)? The whole earth had one language and people were afraid of being scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. So what did they do? In striving to reach Heaven and making a name for themselves, they tried to build a false unity which in fact would have been uniformity. And the Lord dispersed them and multiplied their languages so they would learn how to build unity through diversity. Babel finally turned to be a blessing for all humanity.

Now if we take into account all the readings proposed by the Church for Pentecost Vigil and day, there are 5 readings from the Hebrew Scriptures and five readings from the New Testament: diversity of approach of a unique mystery. Those different readings are like pearls bound together in order to form a beautiful necklace[ii]  that expresses  the unity of Revelation, unity of the Tanakh, unity of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament.

Among the proposed readings, there is Exodus 19 which relates the Revelation of the Lord at Mount Sinai, followed by the gift of the Torah. And according to the midrash, the children of Israel “saw the fiery word coming from the mouth of the Lord, split into seventy languages, each one hearing it according to his (her) own capacity[iii].

The Jewish feast of Shavuot, 50 days after Pesach reminds us of this event which occurred during the agricultural festival of the Harvest and of the first fruits. Gift of the Torah, Gift of the Holy Spirit: 50 days after Easter, on Mount Zion according to the Church tradition, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples and Mary, as the fruit of the Paschal Mystery, and from Jerusalem spread into the whole world.  It is also from Zion, according to the Prophets Micah (4,1-5) and Isaiah (2,1-5), that the Torah will come forth and reach the Nations.

Let us then celebrate the wonders of God, each one in our own language, through the different approaches of one mystery, from Sinai to Zion, from Zion to the whole humankind and earth.

Embracing together the feast of Shavuot, the fulfillment of Pesach, and Pentecost as the achievement of the Paschal mystery of Jesus, let us celebrate the gift of the Torah, and the gift of the Spirit, who reveals to us from inside the meaning of Word of God and makes us one though many in the One God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and of Jesus-Christ.

For Reflection and Discussion: In the New Testament, look for the passages on the Holy Spirit, and find out her different tasks. Ask yourself: do I strive for the renewing of her coming in my life? What is my relation with the Word of God? Do I study it, read it daily, nourish my whole life with it?

Sr Anne Cathrine NDS


[i] Gn 11,1-9;Ex 19,1-20;Ez 37,1-14;Joel 3,1-5;Ps 104;Ro 8,22-27;Jh 7,37-39;Ac 2,1-11;; I Co 12,3-15;Jh 20,19-23

[ii] The “necklace” is well known in Jewish exegesis. During the night preceding Shavuot (“tiqun Shavuot”), the Jews pick up pearls from the Torah to the Prophets and to the Holy Writings, renewing for themselves the experience of Sinai. Cf Talmud Jerusalem, Hagiga 77/b (Cf Luke 24 ,44-47)

[iii] Talmud Babli Shabbat 88/b