THE TOWER OF BABEL
One of my favorite stories of the Scriptures in the Old Testament is the one about the confusion of tongues and dispersion of one people into many. I thought of this story during one of my Lectio Divina meditations about my one, eight word reading (Oratio), “have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” Phil 2:5.
I thought about the many proliferations of who God is, some accurate, some blatantly false and not authentic. Classic Town of Babel story material. Like all biblical myths, it is a story, a parable with a deep meaning about how and why we act the way we do, if you will, about what is most unusual to being human and how we ended up with a proliferation of cultures and ideas. Here are some of my thoughts on Genesis 11, the Tower of Babel.
- What language does God speak? French? German? Russian? Chinese?
- If you go to Heaven, what is the official language with which we can communicate?
- In the archetypal story of the Tower of Babel, there was one people who tried to build one tower in one city. God caused the confusion of tongues.
- The story may not be historical but it is most real and reveals something about the confusion and proliferation of ideas we hold to this day, the uniqueness of culture, race, ethnic identify, religious diversity. From one cam many and from many, all return to one. So, what is the one language God speaks? Love.
- How do we know what love is? The Old Testament identified the problems with a relational covenant with a God we could not see. The New Testament answered it with God becoming one of us, the Word made flesh. Jesus reconciled us with the Father so we would be able to love others as Jesus loved us.
- Like the twelve tribes in the Old Testament, the Church Christ founded flourishes when it love others in humility and obedience to God’s will and deteriorates when it seeks its own self-gratification and power over others.
- We have a proliferation of ways that seek God through Christ. Some of them are authentic and some are self gratifying and out for money and fame and fortune. There is only one root that comes through the Old Testament, Christ. There is only one vine, Christ, and we are branches on a 2000 year old vine.
- The language of Christ is to love one another as Christ has loved us. I am fortunate to have been chosen by Cistercian monks to be a Lay Cistercian and try to convert my life daily to being more like Christ and less like me. I do that through the language of silence and solitude, through the language of love in the Eucharist and Reconciliation (making all things new in Christ), reciting the Liturgy of the Hours, Lectio Divina, and Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament daily, if I can. I try to read Chapter 4 of the Rule of S. Benedict every day in the hopes that I might become what I read. I try to use the charisms of humility and obedience to God’s will each day to expand my capacity to accept God within me through Christ. I try to approach the Mystery of Faith in all its glory now and in the life to co
Those who only live in the physical and mental universes speak a different language with different assumptions than those who live in the physical, mental and spiritual universes. No everyone in the spiritual universe speaks the same language. We have a Tower of Babel in science and spirituality, between religions, between cultures. The default is to seek superiority of your way of thinking over others or to think you are better than someone else because you are Catholic and they are not. The language of God is non judgemental and all will stand before the Throne of the Lamb with the totality of what they have discovered about what Christ taught and be judged on their deeds.
The language of Christ is the love he had for the Father. He showed that by dying on the cross for our sin, reconciling all things to himself. The language of Christ is beyond human words. Treat others with kindness, be non-judgemental but firm in belief about what our heritage is, show mercy at all times but sin no more. This is the transformation to Christ that is beyond English, French, Japanese, or Hindi. This is the transformation by loving others as Christ loved us.
That in all things, God be glorified. –St. Benedict