Wednesday, Aug 05, 2020 | Last Update : 08:24 AM IST

133rd Day Of Lockdown

Maharashtra45795629935616142 Tamil Nadu2682852087844349 Andhra Pradesh176333956251604 Karnataka145830692722704 Delhi1391561252264033 Uttar Pradesh100310572711817 West Bengal80984568841785 Telangana6894649675563 Gujarat65704485612529 Bihar6203140760349 Assam4816233429115 Rajasthan4667932832732 Haryana3779631226448 Odisha3768124483258 Madhya Pradesh3508225414912 Kerala279561629988 Jammu and Kashmir2239614856417 Punjab1901512491462 Jharkhand140705199129 Chhatisgarh10109761369 Uttarakhand8008484795 Goa7075511460 Tripura5520367528 Puducherry4147253758 Manipur301818147 Himachal Pradesh2879171013 Nagaland24056594 Arunachal Pradesh179011053 Chandigarh120671520 Meghalaya9173305 Sikkim7832971 Mizoram5022820
  Opinion   Oped  03 Jun 2017  Mystic Mantra: Spirit beyond speech

Mystic Mantra: Spirit beyond speech

Francis Gonsalves is a professor of theology. He can be contacted at
Published : Jun 3, 2017, 1:33 am IST
Updated : Jun 3, 2017, 1:33 am IST

One of our greatest God-given gifts is speech, which enables us to communicate effectively.


A gossipmonger once said to Socrates, “Have you heard, O Socrates…” Socrates cut him short and asked, “Are you sure what you’re going to tell me is true?” “No!” replied the man, “I just heard it from others.” Socrates continued, “Is it something good about someone?” He replied, “No, on the contrary…” Socrates added, “Will what you tell me help us to be better persons?” The man said, “No!” Socrates finally said, “Then, let’s not waste time over things neither true, nor good, nor helpful for us.”

One of our greatest God-given gifts is speech, which enables us to communicate effectively. However, this gift is often misused due to our lack of restraint and reflection; so much so it’s said, “A dog is such a loveable creature because it wags its tail and not its tongue!” Among the Biblical references to tongue and language, let’s reflect upon two.


First, there’s the story of the “Tower of Babel” where humankind — with arrogance and pride — tries to reach heaven, so to say, by building a tall tower. “Babel” literally means “gate of God”; but in Hebrew “balal” means “to confuse”. The story ends with God confusing the language of the people. Thus, striving to reach God’s gate (Babel), the people end up scattered and confused (balal).

Second, the Acts of the Apostles describes the feast of Pentecost — meaning “50th day” (after Easter) — when God’s spirit comes upon Jesus’ disciples. Jesus had promised his disciples that they would be energised, empowered and enlightened upon receiving God’s spirit after his resurrection. This spirit-experience totally transforms them. 


Central to the Pentecost narrative is the Greek word “glossa”, which means both “tongue” and “language”. The miracle at Pentecost is that when God’s spirit comes upon Jesus’ disciples in symbolic “tongues of fire”, these terrified, tongue-tied disciples (fearful at his death) suddenly receive the “gift of tongues”. They begin to preach in one “language” that is comprehensible to all.

Pentecost is a reversal of Babel where “God confused the language of all the earth”. Now, in the power of God’s spirit, “the disciples begin to speak various languages” and people “hear them speaking in their own languages”. However, God’s spirit also leads believers into deep silence while ever inspiring, guiding and teaching them to produce the “fruits of the spirit”, namely, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”.


Socrates once said: “Nature has given us two ears, two eyes, but only one tongue — so that we should hear and see more than we speak.” Our religious scriptures reveal profound truths about God, life, death and afterlife. But beyond their words and our speech, can’t we all cultivate the fruits of the spirit?

Tags: easter, god, socrates