When we read these verses the first question that comes to mind is: who are ‘they’? If this is a story about our own spiritual development then ‘they’ can be our past lives. It is amazing how much sense some texts in the Bible make if we factor in the knowledge that we have lived many lives over past centuries. Each time we incarnate we carry within us some of our past lives as we work to resolve karma. We might groan at this idea however our karma is a blessing; an opportunity to harmonise and balance our past deeds. It is our ability to do this that assists us to grow in spiritual stature.
Each time we deal with a difficult encounter with other people we should try to figure out the dynamics of our relationship with them. Reading about historical figures of past ages can give us some clues. For example, if we were a Roman who fed Christians to the lions then it doesn’t take much to realise that if we are in contact at present with any of those Christians who have reincarnated, they might be antagonistic towards us. We may have been a Roman who carried out the punishment of cutting out people’s tongues so in this life we could have a speech impediment. Or perhaps we were an Egyptian slave and we have contact in this life with the slave driver who was always pushing us too far. Or if we were that slave driver perhaps we are always being pushed around now. Our actions in past lives have consequences today.
So Pentecost is the time when we can experience the Holy Spirit who baptises us with sound and tongues of fire. In the process it is the Holy Spirit that assists us to become aware of these past lives that accompany us each time we incarnate. This, of course, gives us insight into relationships and helps us to be more objective because we understand why there are difficulties at times. At the same time this Holy Spirit comforts (paracletos) us so that we can bear what we see. As we re-experience who we were in a past life, of course, we will have the ability to hear the different languages we have spoken in each incarnation. This is one way to look beneath the surface (esoterically) of the words in the Bible.