Once when He descended and confounded the tongues…
On this day in our hearing, the Church proclaimed: “Once, when He descended and confounded the tongues, the Most High divided the nations…”
This is an allusion to an event revealed in Genesis – the story of the tower of Babel. According to scripture, we learn that the human race was scattered over the face of the earth because, in our pride, we wished to build a mighty tower reaching unto heaven. Thus, the confusion of our language was a great mercy of God, as it kept us from banding together for evil, so that, scattered abroad, we could learn humility and return to God.
…and when He divided the tongues of fire, He called all men into unity… On that most awesome day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon all flesh, calling men back from disunity to be one in Christ. Though this occurred once in time on that great day, the heavens celebrate this day unto eternity. And so we once again rejoice on this Feast on which the gift of Grace is poured forth upon the Church, calling all mankind back into the loving bosom of our great and most merciful God.
Once, when He descended and confounded the tongues, the Most High divided the nations; and when He divided the tongues of fire, He called all men into unity; and with one accord we glorify the All-holy Spirit.
Kontakion for Pentecost