Babel and Pentecost

I went to my first Pentecost Vigil Mass this year… although it was not the “extended form” and was simply three readings (Old Testament, Epistle, Gospel). But I did hear Genesis 11:1-9, and the priest related it to the First Reading for Pentecost Sunday, Acts 2:1-11.

When I led a Bible study last winter on Acts of the Apostles 1-12 (which I cleverly called “Words on Acts”, look for the book in a year or two…), I invited the members of the study to compare the two passages and see what they had in common and how they differed.

Language

Babel: they were speaking one language (11:1)

Pentecost: they were speaking many languages (2:8)

Location

Babel: a plain in Shinar (11:2)

Pentecost: a mountainous area, Jerusalem (2:5)

Building

Babel: their own city (11:4)

Pentecost: the Church, the kingdom of God (1:3)

Accomplishments

Babel: making a name for themselves (11:4)

Pentecost: declaring the works of God (2:11)

Direction

Babel: man attempting to reach heaven (11:4)

Pentecost: the Holy Spirit descending upon earth (2:2)

Movement

Babel: coming together (11:2), then scattered abroad (11:9)

Pentecost: coming together (2:5), then scattered abroad (1:8)