Once when He descended and confounded the tongues…
Today we read in Genesis the story of the tower of Babel. In this story, we learn how the human race was scattered over the face of the earth because, in our pride, we wished to build a tall tower reaching unto heaven. Thus, the confusion of our language was a great mercy of God, as it kept us from banding together for evil, so that, scattered abroad, we could learn humility and return to God.
On Wednesday, Father Seraphim mentioned how a Christian cannot think of the expulsion from paradise without thinking of the remedy – the holy Cross. Likewise, we should not think of the confusion of tongues without thinking of the remedy – the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. While the division caused by the confusion of tongues was for our benefit, it was not in line with God’s plan for us. Made in His image, we are made to be united to Him and to one another, as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one within the Godhead.
And thus, the Holy Spirit comes down on the day of Pentecost to unite us to Christ and to one another in the Church. Moreover, we each received this very same gift on the day of our baptism, being united to Christ’s Body in the Church, and we renew this union each time we partake of the Holy Mysteries.
Father Tom Soroka, speaking of this in his daily scriptural commentary (http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/thepath), quotes in particular the following hymn from the Pentecost service:
"Of old the tongues were confounded / because of the audacity in the building of the tower, / but now the tongues are made wise / because of the glory of Divine knowledge. / There God condemned the impious because of their offense, / and here Christ hath enlightened the fishermen by the Spirit. / At that time the confusion of tongues was wrought for punishment, / but now the concord of tongues hath been inaugurated // for the salvation of our souls" (Aposticha for Pentecost).
Let us give thanks to God for His great mercies! And let us strive to come together, through prayer and repentance uniting ourselves to the Holy Church, and thereby to each other, that we may see fulfilled Christ’s last with for us: "that they may be one, as we [the Holy Trinity] are" (John 17).
Gen 10:32 – 11:9
These are the tribes of the sons of Noe, according to their generations, according to their nations: of them were the islands of the Gentiles scattered over the earth after the flood. 1. And all the earth was one lip, and there was one language to all. 2. And it came to pass as they moved from the east, they found a plain in the land of Senaar, and they dwelt there. 3. And a man said to his neighbor, Come, let us make bricks and bake them with fire. And the brick was to them for stone, and their mortar was bitumen. 4. And they said, Come, let us build to ourselves a city and tower, whose top shall be to heaven, and let us make to ourselves a name, before we are scattered abroad upon the face of all the earth. 5. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men built. 6. And the Lord said, Behold, There is one race, and one lip of all, and they have begun to do this and now nothing shall fail from them of all that they may have undertaken to do. 7. Come, and having gone down let us there confound their tongue, that they may not understand each the voice of his neighbor. 8. And the Lord scattered them thence over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city and the tower. 9. On this account its name was called Confusion, because there the Lord confounded the languages of all the earth, and thence the Lord scattered them upon the face of all the earth.
Reader Nivholas Park 2008. St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
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