Sunday, May 27, 2012
Speak, Listen & Communicate Peace: Pentecost Perspectives
The celebration of the festival of Pentecost as per the Christian liturgical calendar, which also begins the observance of the World Week of Peace in Palestine Israel (WWPPI) from 28th May to 3rd June 2012, happens in the context of growing unrest in Palestine, with the threat of ‘occupation’ intensifying, with displacement, dispossession, and discrimination on the rise, with peace in Palestine Israel becomes a distant reality only to witness the records of human rights violations growing by leaps and bounds. The struggles of the people in Palestine knew no bounds, for they have become prey to several vicious forces like Zionism, fundamentalism, oppression, political tyranny, etc. fighting hope against hope that there would be better future for the generations to come, where freedom and liberty would over-arch their children to live life.
In such a context, the first Christian Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2 provide us a challenge to be empowered by the Holy Spirit, to stand in solidarity with the voices around, the voices which have been unheard all these years. The first Pentecost happened at a time, when there was fear, peace-less-ness, timidity, and perplexity among the disciples of Jesus Christ. At that very stroke of the Pentecost, as the resurrected Christ ascended into heavens, the Holy Spirit poured down, the disciples of Jesus Christ came open and the Church went out. One can decipher three important challenges from the early Pentecost, which have a tremendous relevance to our settings today.
a. Pentecost is a challenge to speak in other’s language
When the Holy Spirit came down as a violent wind over the disciples of Jesus, they all began to speak in other’s language as the Spirit gave them ability (4v). To speak in other’s language, one needs to know that language, for only then they can add meaning to those words they speak. The miracle of Pentecost was that the disciples were able to communicate in other’s language, which was a surprise package to all those in Jerusalem. Communicating in a foreign language is only to build a community of friendship and peace, for those very syllables of a new language becomes the sprouting seeds of establishing a community, transcending boundaries of every kind. Speaking in other’s language is a first step in comprehending the struggles of those others, and there by voicing it out for the benefit of all over there. Language represents the very ethos of that particular community, and speaking it out is a stepping stone in expressing solidarity with those speakers of that language. In our context today, the challenge for us all is to speak the other’s language to join them in voicing out for their cause. Let us resolve to speak in the language of Palestinians, their cry for freedom and their cry for justice. The call by Palestinian Christians to ‘Come & See’ is an opportunity to witness their struggles so that we can learn their language and pain.
b. Pentecost is a challenge to listen to one’s native language
The Holy Spirit not only convinces to speak in other’s language it also challenges people to listen to one’s native language. Most times our listening has been pretentious and peripheral. The message of the gospel, the message of peace comes to us in our native language, for the miracle of incarnation lies in the word becoming flesh, and we need to receive it. All our learning of theology, affirmations of faith have only been transliterated and are not translated according to our particular contexts, and therefore the challenge is to speak in other’s language and convert it to our own language, in situations of pain and suffering. Gospel of peace listened in a local dialect has more meaning and relevance for one gets challenged to apply it in one’s life. When can people listen the gospel of peace in their native local languages? When people assert in their localness, when one can understand the pain and pathos of the local communities, when one is challenged to communicate that word has become flesh, one can listen to the still small voice of nativity. In these days of increasing foreignness in our thought pattern and language, our local communities are deprived of listening to their native languages, and are even forced to think that their native languages are unpolished and unrefined, and even branded them as ‘uncultured.’ In the context of Palestinian struggles, let us support the local language of Palestine, and make the people in Palestine Israel to assert their localness and to listen to the gospel of peace in their local language. As global community we need to advocate for the rights of these our friends, and be in support of their local initiatives of freedom and justice.
c. Pentecost is a challenge to communicate your conviction for peace
On that Pentecost, when the disciples were speaking in tongues according to the measure of the Holy Spirit, the visitors there thought that these disciples were drunk. Peter then had to stand up firm on his toes along with his other colleagues, for this was the first opportunity for him to affirm his faith and conviction in the risen Jesus Christ and had to boldly defend their conviction in the gospel of peace in Jesus Christ. Peter spoke so eloquently, so inspiringly and so passionately, that on that single day the Pentecost could witness some three thousand people adhering to the values of Jesus Christ. Misconceptions these days are on the rise, rumours, blaming and branding have become the norm of the day, for the ‘survival of the fittest’ has its day. In such a context, Pentecost challenges us to get inspired to communicate our conviction for peace, which would require critical analysis of the context and a deeper knowledge of the situation, for it is peace of promoting life are the virtues that would rule our assessments. In the context of Palestine, there have been several misconceptions and brandings on these our friends, where even Scriptures have been thoroughly used in maligning their image for freedom and justice. This day of Pentecost should challenge us to overcome all those camouflaged images and should challenge us to communicate our vision for peace in this land and elsewhere. Peter was not alone when he stood up to speak his conviction, the rest of the eleven disciples stood along with him and they could convince people on the gospel of peace in which and in whom they have believed.
Let us all therefore resolve to pray, educate and advocate for peace in Palestine Israel, and the day of Pentecost is an opportunity to make this day relevant and appropriate. May God empower us all with Holy Spirit.