May 21, 2013


I got distracted, if pleasantly, by what many would see as minutiae, that is just what exactly the tongues over the apostles' heads at Pentecost were made of. Apparently not fire since the text is clear about “tongues as of fire”, and a biblical commentary made that point as well. I think our man Ronald Knox simply goes ahead and makes it “tongues of fire”, although that could be originally St. Jerome's Vulgate rendering.

“Tongues” for the Jews were basically anything pointy. Perhaps they were pointed lights, very bright. The reference to fire, however, is intentional by the gospel writer since Christ was said to baptize with “fire and the Holy Spirit”. I love the “everybody” aspect of Pentecost, how the tongues rested on everybody and how they could speak all the languages of their listeners. The reading from Sirach yesterday went: “He has poured her forth upon all his works, upon every living thing according to his bounty.”

I'm kind of surprised Pentecost isn't a bigger deal in the Church. Seems like it should have at least its own week, an octave. The Holy Spirit seems the St. Joseph of the Trinity: overshadowed.


Banshee said...

Until Paul VI, Pentecost did have its own octave. And Pentecost or Whitsunday was always a huge deal, with only Christmas and Easter as big of feasts, and Pentecost being at a much more convenient time for feasting and play and dancing in the churchyard.

You may recall that King Arthur held a great feast at Pentecost to which everybody was invited, but nobody could eat until a great wonder was brought before the king. (Thus sending the knights off for their summer errantry.)

TS said...

Interesting! I know so little about the pre-conciliar Church.