By Nick Sciarappa
“I bet you’re not ‘man enough’ to stick the firework in your mouth and light it!” I said to my friend David when we were in high school. And so, in an act of sheer youthful stupidity,
David put the firework in his mouth, as if it were a cigar, and lit the wick.
At first I laughed, thinking he wouldn’t follow through with it. But as the wick burned away, I realized… I might be the catalyst to my friends tongue blowing up in a million pieces.
Suddenly, a multitude of sparks exploded both inside and outside of David’s mouth. It was a fascinating and horrifying sight to see. The colors were beautiful. His reaction? Pain.
I selfishly thought about my consequences, envisioning a horrible conversation with David’s mom, saying something like
“Yeah, your son doesn’t have a tongue because I dared him to eat a firework.”
Once the sparks of fire diminished, and many swear words where expressed, I checked David’s mouth. Thank goodness… He still had a tongue.A few months later David regained his sense of taste. We were lucky… this time… Of course, we had so much to talk about at school the next day. We told everyone about what happened, and the response was amazing.
I think of this event every Pentecost.
The reading this week speaks of the Holy Spirit coming down upon the disciples like tongues of fire. I once looked up tongues of fire, just to figure out what they were, and the closest I could find is that they looked like fireworks, or little flames buzzing around the air. It must have been just as exciting and frightening to see the Spirit come down in such a dramatic way. It’s hard to imagine such a sight for me. I can only imagine the thoughts going through the disciples mind. They must have been entirely awestruck and empowered.
Let’s put it into context.
The Book of Acts says that Jesus Ascended into heaven just before this weekend’s passage. I can imagine how terrified and alone the disciples must have felt without their Lord among them. Once again they were alone. The Disciples were huddled together in a room, hiding in fear.
Then, the Holy Spirit came upon them in a radical way, inspiring them to live with God inside and among them. And so the Church was born. 2000 years later, we as Christians still believe the Spirit guides the church and transforms people to do amazing and sometimes simple things.
Maybe the Spirit doesn’t come among us like fireworks
but I believe that talking about your faith, making a free will choice to head to church, or even just praying, are signs that the same Spirit that amazed the disciples is working in my life, an the lives of Christians I witness.
On this Pentecost Sunday I encourage you to not be afraid to spread your faith to others: the Spirit will be there to guide you. Or, in the words of St. Ignatius, “Go forth and set the world on fire!” Just don’t take that literally, like I did with David.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick graduated from John Carroll University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, and a Catholic Studies Minor in May 2014. After a short residency reporting for the newspaper, National Catholic Reporter in Kansas City he stepped away from journalism into full time ministry. He works at Saints John and Paul Catholic Parish as a Media and Marketing Specialist, and at St. John Neumann as a Youth Minister in Pittsburgh, PA. He enjoys playing the ukulele and singing.