"Tongues as of fire appeared, which parted and came to rest on each of them." —Acts 2:3
Can you imagine a big batch of flying, fiery tongues entering the room? Why not a group of flying noses or fiery gall bladders? Why did God send fiery tongues at the first Christian Pentecost?
Fiery tongues are a Jewish tradition associated with the renewal of the covenant. Fire is the most powerful means of purification. So fiery tongues express the covenant with Yahweh to love Him alone with all our hearts — with hearts purely, exclusively committed to Him (see Mt 5:8).
At the first Christian Pentecost, Jesus' disciples spoke not only in the fiery tongues of the covenant but also in foreign tongues. The disciples spoke in languages they didn't know (Acts 2:4, 6, 8). This was a sign of the reversal of the division from the tower of Babel (see Gn 11:6ff). These foreign tongues were also fiery in that they began to purify us of the pride that divided us.
Peter continued to speak in fiery tongues when he prophesied and preached in the fire of the Spirit so as to lead 3,000 people to the purifying waters of baptism (Acts 2:41). Peter and John spoke in fiery tongues when they healed the man lame from birth (see Acts 3:6ff). Fiery tongues are the way in which the Spirit is renewing the face of the earth (see Ps 104:30).
Do you speak in fiery tongues? Do your words purify, transform, and unify? On this Pentecost, ask for the fiery tongues of the Spirit.
Prayer: Father, may I speak in my native fiery tongue and in foreign, fiery tongues. Come, Holy Spirit!
Promise: "Then [Jesus] breathed on them and said: 'Receive the Holy Spirit.' " —Jn 20:22
Praise: Praise the risen Jesus, Whose Spirit renews the face of the earth (Ps 104:30). Come, Holy Spirit! Alleluia!
Reference: (Come, discover the gifts the Spirit has given you, July 15-16 at our retreat center in Peebles, OH. Call 513-373-2397 for info.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 1, 2011
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