Spirit of Unity
Pentecost Sunday

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

How many languages can you speak? For many of us who grew up in Mindanao, it is normal to speak at least four languages. What some designate as Filipino dialects are strictly speaking, different Filipino languages. One who comes from our part of the Philippines speaks his home languages (Ilongo, Cebuano, Maguindanao , etc.) plus Filipino, which is Tagalog-based, and some foreign languages which could be English, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, or Bahasa. Many times I have listened to people conversing with one another and shifting from one language to another while perfectly at ease about it.. Growing in a melting pot of tribes, a Mindanaon is a polyglot. One of our priests for example was born an Ilocano, grew up in a neighborhood speaking Ilonggo, Cebuano, Filipino and Maguindanao learned English, Latin, and Spanish in school, picked up Italian, German, and French while studying in Europe, and formally took up Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic while doing his Biblical studies.

Action starter: Leave the animosities behind. Rebuild .

It must have been quiet an experience for people listening to the apostles speaking on Pentecost day. These people came from different parts of the world, yet they heard the apostles speaking to them in their own languages. Language can unite as well as divide people. According to the biblical story about Babel, God punished the people for their pride by making them speak different languages and dividing them. The Pentecost story manifested God’s plan of restoring unity among his people. The Spirit of God is working in history to realize this plan of bringing people together into one family.

The signs of the times point out two seemingly opposite movements. The world is becoming one small global village because of technologies of transportation and communication. There is a movement toward world culture, at least in the arts and entertainment. As an example, young people around the world enjoy the same music and follow the same fashion. There is a also a movement toward cultural identity. People all over the world assert their rights for self-determination, for cultural expression, and national sovereignty. This assertion is often translated into political struggle of the armed kind. As a practical consequence of this, a young person who has develop a friendship via internet or cellular phone with somebody later finds out that they are cultural or traditional “enemies”.

These two movements for world unity and cultural identity do not have to be necessarily in conflict with each other. People can be different and be united. There can be unity in diversity. We can understand one another even as we speak different languages. There can be unity in purpose. We can work towards common goals of peace, development, justice, and . ecological sustainability.

The recent Philippine elections have brought about disunity, enmity, and bad feelings among, individuals, families, and clans. Close friends and compadres have become enemies. Family members have become rivals. Clans are at odds and carry grudges against one another. Even as of now, some election proceedings have not been completed due to electoral irregularities. We have instituted a built-in mechanism for local and national disunity every three years through our electoral process.

Be that as it may, it is time to start the process of unification. The elected leaders have to take the initiative to unite people towards achieving common goals. The time of Babel is over. It is the time of Pentecost. Let our prayer be,

Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created,
And you shall renew the face of the earth.