God is Grace: Babble
The Coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-11)
A reflection on the First Reading from Pentecost Sunday (Year C)
Written by Mr Casimir Douglas
“Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” (Genesis 11:7)
“Stop babbling and tell me what the matter is!” This statement has been uttered and exclaimed by parents and educators infinitum as we implore our children to speak clearly, plainly and get to the point. ‘Babble’ is a verb which means to talk rapidly and continuously in a foolish, excited, or incomprehensible way. I also know a few adults who start to babble after a few too many beverages!
It doesn’t require much of my amatuer etymological skill to determine that the word ‘babble’ emerged from the story of the ‘Tower of Babel’ from Genesis (11:1-9), the first book of the Bible. The story immediately follows the events of the Noahic covenant and the Great Flood. After the Great Flood the peoples of Earth all speak the same language and all live in the one location, and driven by their ego they aspire to build a tower so tall that its top is in the Heavens, the Tower of Babel. Then the Spirit of the Lord descends upon the people and confuses and obfuscates their words, so that they all spoke different languages, and therefore, could not coexist and cooperate and then scattered across the face of the Earth. The tower, therefore, is not remembered for its size, height, grandeur or majesty, but is a symbol of confusion and discordance, and its name and legacy is given instead to disconnection and disassociation. After all, they couldn’t understand one another’s babble as they spoke rapidly, continuously, and excitedly.
A literal reading of the story gives the impression that this breakdown in communication was due to divine intervention. However, as we could each imagine, the ego-driven desire to build a tower so great that it would make gods of oneself would lead to much unfettered opinion, argument, disagreement, and chaos, not only of how to build the tower, but who would rule over it. No wonder the Spirit scattered them, for they were already confused.
The subject of the First Reading from this Sunday’s Mass is the complete inversion of the Tower of Babel. It explores the events of the Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit in tongues of fire to Jesus’ loyal followers. This divine intervention, however, improves the communication of the Apostles by allowing them to speak languages that they did not know, so that all in Jerusalem would hear the Word, and the Good News, in their own tongues. Interestingly, those who heard the Apostles speaking in their own languages, in addition to being amazed, also said: “They are filled with new wine.” That is, they suspected they were drunk! What did I say about those few adults I know again? The Apostles weren’t full of new wine. But they were babbling rapidly, continuously, and excitedly, filled with the Spirit.
The intention of the writer of the Acts of the Apostles (the Gospel writer, Luke) is clear; the invitation to God’s grace is open to all - every language, every race, every colour, every creed, every age, every person. The audience he was writing for will have immediately made the connection between the events of Pentecost and the events of the Tower of Babel. This Holy Spirit who has proceeded not just from the Father, but also from Son (as Christ himself prophesied), is not playing a mischievous game of divisiveness, but has come to bring unity, community, solidarity, connection, reunion, togetherness, belonging, universality, and inclusion in the cosmic expanse of God’s grace.
Friday 3rd June, 2022
Peter Bruegel the Elder, Netherlands, 1563
Dear Parents and Carers,
Grace to you and peace.
GOSPEL VALUE AWARDS: EMPATHY
At our Prayer Assembly on Monday morning this week, I spoke again to our students about our focus Gospel value for the month of May: EMPATHY. I highlighted to our students that to live with the value of empathy requires us to: be gentle, listen and learn. To illustrate this message, I shared with the students Aesop's fable of The Lion and the Mouse. In the fable, after catching the mouse for his morning snack, the lion spares the life of the mouse after hearing its pleas and accepting the mouse's declaration that he would one day be helpful to the lion. The mouse's prophecy indeed comes true and the next day the lion is freed from a hunter's trap by the mouse, and thus in sparing the mouse, the lion was gentle, listened and learned, and was resultantly spared himself.
The following students received a Gospel Value Award during the School Assembly in the Josephite Hall on Friday 3rd June for an act of empathy captured by their teacher this week:
|Oliver George||Prep More|
|Ted Gill||Prep Thomas|
|Billie Bassett||Grade 1/2 More|
|Harry Muller||Grade 1/2 Saint|
|Imogen Dilger||Grade 1/2 Thomas|
|Lily McGoran||Grade 3/4 More|
|Matilda Maney||Grade 3/4 Saint|
|Jackson Hodgetts||Grade 3/4 Thomas|
|Archie Woolcott||Grade 3/4 More|
|Isabelle Senior||Grade 5/6 More|
|Evie Bye||Grade 5/6 Saint|
|Charlie Slater||Grade 5/6 Thomas|
These students will also attend the Principal’s Morning Tea this coming Tuesday (7th June) morning during first break at 10:50am with Mr Douglas, Fr Chathura Silva and/or Fr Jesse Banez.
St Thomas More's celebrated Reconciliation Week (27th May-3rd June) in commemoration of two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey of the First Nation peoples, the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision. The theme for Reconciliation Week this year is Be Brave. Make Change. This is a reminder to us all that change begins with brave actions in your every day life, where you work, live, play, and socialise. This call to action aligns with our Gospel values of justice and empathy, and asserts that agenda for change is not just a one week a year occurence, but a way of living, loving and being.
St Thomas More's Catholic School is the undertaking the process of renewing our Reconciliation Action Plan in 2022 through the leadership and guidance of Mrs Lisa Spotswood, our Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Coordinator. To both celebrate and bring to life the agenda of Reconciliation Week, and the cultures of our First Nation peoples, Mrs Spotswood has engaged all students of the school in craft activities to contribute to art installation in the Launceston City Library (pictured below). Each class were provided with a specific piece of artwork representing the local flora and fauna to contribute to the installation. During this task the students learned the palawa kani words for the land and animals they were creating. I wish to express my sincere gratitude for Mrs Spotwood's continued presence and wisdom in this space and her capacity to engage individual students and the broader community at large in the journey to reconciliation. Below are her words regarding our 'Reconciliation Week' focus:
Our school is supporting reconciliation this year by sharing our knowledge and enthusiasm for Aboriginal culture with our community. We will be creating a diorama that shares palawa kani through an art piece. Sharing knowledge of the oldest living civilization in the world, how they survived invasion and have created from 9 languages spoken in lutruwita, palawa kani ‘a living practice of cultural transmission’. It will be displayed in the Town Library for Reconciliation Week. We have the support from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community to use these words.
JACK THE JUMPER VISIT
In Week 1 of Term 2, we celebrated Green Day to show our pride and support for the Tasmania Jack Jumpers as they entered the NBL Finals in their inaugural season. Although they may not have captured the championship, they did indeed manage to capture the hearts and minds of the Tasmania people, and certainly the attention and admiratiomn of the students of St Thomas More's! The school was filled with the colour green, not only with Jack Jumpers merchandise, but also with green hats, gowns, capes, facepaint, shoes and hair! This coming Monday 6th June, the mascot for the basketball team, Jack the Jumper, will be visiting our school with a number of coaches. They will visiting some classes and running mini-basketball clinics for others. We welcome and embrace the iniatitive of this Tasmania Jack Jumpers to engage with the local community, schools and young people.
May the grace of Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Mr Casimir Douglas
Congratulations to Gemma, who has received 25 stickers in her Student Acknowledgement booklet. These stickers are given to students displaying positive and respectful behaviour in the playground. They are a great role model for others. Well done!
On Thursday evening we had the pleasure of listening to our up and coming musicians perform in their first Soiree of 2022. It is always wonderful to see students perform on stage in front of their friends and family - not an easy task, and they did wonderfully!