Pope contrasts unity of Pentecost, division of Babel
May 28, 2012
Preaching at St. Peter’s Basilica on Pentecost Sunday, Pope Benedict contrasted Pentecost, “the feast of human unity, understanding and sharing,” with Babel.
Babel, said the Pope, is
the description of a kingdom in which people have concentrated so much power they think they no longer need depend on a God who is far away. They believe they are so powerful they can build their own way to heaven in order to open the gates and put themselves in God's place. But it's precisely at this moment that something strange and unusual happens. While they are working to build the tower, they suddenly realise they are working against one another. While trying to be like God, they run the risk of not even being human – because they've lost an essential element of being human: the ability to agree, to understand one another and to work together.
“Progress and science have given us the power to dominate the forces of nature, to manipulate the elements, to reproduce living things, almost to the point of manufacturing humans themselves. In this situation, praying to God appears outmoded, pointless, because we can build and create whatever we want,” he continued. “We don't realize we are reliving the same experience as Babel. It's true, we have multiplied the possibilities of communicating, of possessing information, of transmitting news – but can we say our ability to understand each other has increased? Or, paradoxically, do we understand each other even less?”
“Unity can only exist as a gift of God's Spirit, which will give us a new heart and a new tongue, a new ability to communicate,” he continued. “This is what happened at Pentecost.”