I hope you’ll acknowledge with me a simple fact: it’s not normal to have tongues of fire “part and come to rest” on people. It is actually pretty strange. Yet that is precisely what we celebrate in this feast of Pentecost. How can this mean something to us in our daily lives?
Jews had a tradition that heaven is a temple made of bricks of fire. So, through the apostles, the heavenly temple is coming to earth. But this fire looks like tongues, not bricks. That means that heavenly speech will be crucial to building a dwelling place for God on earth among men and women. So, it’s no surprise when the apostles begin to speak in a miraculous way that is understood by all language groups. They are speaking of what God has done in and through Jesus: bringing heaven to earth and uniting all peoples to God and to each other.
How often our speech divides: gossip, slander, insults, and so on. How strange and rare it is when people speak in ways that truly unite instead of divide. Imagine how powerful it would be if you and I began to speak at home, at work, and in our community in a way that made people hear heavenly speech. Imagine if you spoke of the mighty deeds of God in a way that everyone could understand. That’s precisely what the Holy Spirit descends upon us to do. Ask Him to come as a tongue of fire to you once again, and He will. Then speak!
— Father John Muir