One of the things that struck me about many of the artworks featuring the Pentecost was the sheer amount of smoke. You’ve seen this artwork of the Pentecost that I’ve featured, but there are others too that feature an enormous amount of smoke and fire to the point that it seems like the whole world is on fire.
Case in point: this picture.
Honestly, it looks less like a religious picture and more like a war scene!
Mary, and perhaps St. Peter, are the only ones who seem relatively calm about this whole matter. In fact, I’m not even sure if St. Peter is all that calm! All the other apostles seems surprised and are either startled by the rushing of the Holy Spirit that has suddenly come upon them (scripture lets us know that it was a big gust of wind that came in that even startled those nearby who were not with the apostles!) while others seem to be praying for their lives.
And, while I was looking at this artwork, I couldn’t help but think of something that Jesus had said when He was still with His apostles:
49“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! 50 There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! 51Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
And wasn’t Jesus right! Pentecost is considered to be the birthday of the Church, and Jesus has lit that fire! Literally, in fact, with Pentecost!
But, by lighting that fire, God has definitely split us up! How often have our religious beliefs naturally set us apart from those that we may love dearly? By being on fire with the faith, how often has that set us at odds with the rest of the world?
And this is not easy by any means. Often, our lives can feel like a warzone for the faith!
And yet, this picture makes me smile. Yes, we might feel bombarded at times. Yet, ultimately, God is on our side. And, with God on our side, who can stand against us?