“Tongues as of fire appeared and came to rest on each of them.”
Years ago in England, long before the advent of radio and TV or even the telegraph, a system of communication was developed to announce that a new king or queen had ascended to the throne. Beginning at the palace and moving on to the next high place on the horizon and on to the next high place after that and on the next after that and so forth in all directions throughout the kingdom, huge stacks of branches and logs were made. At the moment the new monarch was crowned, the palace guards set fire to their wood pile. As soon as the fire was spotted by the sentries on the horizon they set fire to their pile and then the next sentries on out from them, seeing the fire, lit theirs; and so forth in all directions until throughout all the kingdom of Britannia the sky was lit up by the myriad of bonfires. All the royal subjects then knew that a new king had been crowned and ascended the throne because they could see the fire. Shouts of “Long live the King!” or “Long live the Queen!” echoed throughout the land.
Before his Ascension into heaven, Jesus promised his disciples that when he returned to the Father he would send them the Holy Spirit. The promise was a comfort but still they were anxious. How would they know Jesus had made it back to heaven? How would they know that he had ascended the throne at the Father’s right hand and been crowned with the glory that he had known in all eternity past? “When the day of Pentecost came it found them gathered in one place, suddenly…tongues as of fire appeared which parted and came to rest on each of them. All were filled with the Holy Spirit. They began to express themselves in foreign tongues and make bold proclamation as the Spirit prompted them.” This is how they knew; the fire was the sign. And as they were filled with the Holy Spirit they began to shout and proclaim “Jesus is King! Long live the King!” The fire quickly spread from horizon to horizon, from Jerusalem, to all Judea, to Samaria, and even to the uttermost corners of the world, until all would hear “Jesus is King!” And that fire continues spreading to this day. Wherever you find a group of people on fire with the Holy Spirit of God, it is a declaration that “Jesus is King!” “Long live the King!”
Pentecost Acts 2: 1-11; I Cor. 12: 3-13; Jn. 20: 19-23
Peace Connections: Making the connection between the Sunday Readings and issues of peace and justice. Copyright 1995, by Thomas L. Garlitz. “Not for profit” permission to reprint granted.