“When the most High came down and confused the tongues, / He divided the nations; / But when He distributed the tongues of fire / He called all to unity. / Therefore, with one voice, we glorify the All-holy Spirit!” (Byzantine Kontakion-hymn of Pentecost)
This Kontakion-hymn refers to the division of nations in Genesis 11: 1-9, when the Lord confused the languages of the people, who had attempted to build a city and the so-called “tower of Babel,” the top of which was to “touch the heavens.” It was the people’s goal thus to ensure, as they said, “a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Gen 11: 3) But the Lord denied them such a unity, and “scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth.” Why? Because the people had intended a unity based on themselves. They were not ready for the unity God intended; a unity rooted in Him.
The coming of Christ and His sending down of the Holy Spirit does not change our division into nations. He rather takes this reality and overcomes it, as only He can, using it to our benefit. He sends us out, scattered as we are, among the nations, saying, “Go and teach…,” calling all to unity in Him and through Him. Today let His All-Holy Spirit overcome in me all self-isolation, that I may open up to His call, reaching out to others and letting them reach me, in His humbling grace. “Therefore, with one voice, we glorify the All-Holy Spirit!”