Pentecost Sunday (A) 2017

Even a cursory examination of the Old Testament will tell you that it is a litany of failure. The repeated failure of the chosen people (the Israelites) to live as people created in the image and likeness of their Creator. Despite the many and repeated disasters which this failure brought upon them they continued on their self – destructive way. Through all this there was the ‘remnant’ who to some extent remained faithful to the One True God. Though this ‘remnant’ had its ups and downs in their faithfulness to God, nevertheless, over and over again, they acted as a small nucleus around which the chosen people could coalesce in times of trouble and defeat. They acted as a beacon of hope to lead the people to the One True God when things were desperate. In the New Testament we see the same trend. The life of Jesus of Nazareth himself is peppered with disappointment, rejection, desertion in times of trouble and even outright betrayal by one of his closest followers. This trend continues today in the Body of Christ – the Church. We are the ‘remnant’ today. Despite our oft forgetfulness and our sometimes unfaithfulness to the One True God, yet we struggle (even if sometimes halfheartedly) to remain loyal to our God and Creator. We are that remnant; that beacon of hope, around whom the scattered people of God can gather and coalesce in troubled times or in their search for meaning and comfort in life. The fact that we are but a fraction of the population of this country or any country, this town or any town, should not bother us unduly. It was always so except where people were under pressure to comply. This is the gift of the Holy Spirit; that there is, was and always will be, the ‘remnant,’ who despite their many and repeated faults and failings, continue the struggle to be faithful to the One True God. To keep the memory of the One True God alive. Like the Israelites of the Old Testament, we the people of God of the New Testament are presented by our God with a daunting (one could say impossible) calling or vocation. In the Old Testament their calling was: ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.’ In the New Testament we are required ‘to be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’ God my Creator is perfectly aware of my inability to live up to any of these callings. After all he made me and gave me these feet of clay. I can waste my time bewailing my present and past faults and failings, but that is not my vocation. While well aware of my feet of clay I keep my eye on the target. Like the athlete I strive to jump that bit higher or run that bit faster each day and disregard the limitations of yesterday. I refuse to be controlled by past events about which I can now do nothing. Being open to the Spirit of God who dwells within me, I take each day as an opportunity to live out my basically unachievable vocation, trusting in the wisdom of my God. As St. Paul said, ‘God’s power is made perfect in my weakness.’