11 Aug, Saturday – Faith Opens Doors

11 Aug – Memorial for St. Clare, virgin, religious founder

Clare (1194-1253) loved music and well-composed sermons. She was humble, merciful, charming, optimistic, and chivalrous. She would get up late at night to tuck in her sisters who’’d kicked off their covers. She daily meditated on the Passion. When she learned of the Franciscan martyrs in Morrocco in 1221, she tried to go there to give her own life for God, but was restrained. Once, when her convent was about to be attacked, she displayed the Sacrament in a monstrace at the convent gates and prayed before it. The attackers left.

Toward the end of her life, when she was too ill to attend Mass, an image of the service would be displayed on the wall of her cell; thus her patronage of television.

– Patron Saint Index

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Habakkuk 1:12-2:4

Are not you, from ancient times the Lord,
my God, my Holy One, who never dies?
O Lord, you have made this people an instrument of justice,
set it firm as a rock in order to punish.

Your eyes are too pure to rest on wickedness,
you cannot look on at tyranny.
Why do you look on while men are treacherous,
and stay silent while the evil man swallows a better man than he?

You treat mankind like fishes in the sea,
like creeping, masterless things.

A people, these, who catch all on their hook,
who draw them with their net,
in their dragnet gather them,
and so, triumphantly, rejoice.

At this, they offer a sacrifice to their net,
and burn incense to their dragnet,
for providing them with luxury
and lavish food.

Are they then to empty their net unceasingly,
slaughtering nations without pity?

I will stand on my watchtower,
and take up my post on my battlements,
watching to see what he will say to me,
what answer he will make to my complaints.

Then the Lord answered and said,
‘Write the vision down,
inscribe it on tablets
to be easily read,
since this vision is for its own time only:
eager for its own fulfilment, it does not deceive;
if it comes slowly, wait,
for come it will, without fail.

‘See how he flags, he whose soul is not at rights,
but the upright man will live by his faithfulness.’

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Matthew 17:14-20

A man came up to Jesus and went down on his knees before him. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘take pity on my son: he is a lunatic and in a wretched state; he is always falling into the fire or into the water. I took him to your disciples and they were unable to cure him.’ ‘Faithless and perverse generation!’ Jesus said in reply ‘How much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.’ And when Jesus rebuked it the devil came out of the boy who was cured from that moment.

Then the disciples came privately to Jesus. ‘Why were we unable to cast it out? they asked. He answered, ‘Because you have little faith. I tell you solemnly, if your faith were the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it would move; nothing would be impossible for you.’

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Nothing will be impossible for you

A few years ago, a ministry friend told me that she would like me to play the violin at her wedding mass. She was so insistent and would not take ‘No’ for an answer, despite my exhortations that I had not touched a violin for more than 35 years. She simply looked me in the eye and told me to ‘have faith’ and that everything would be fine.

From those first tentative strokes of the bow, I have now come to realise that when God calls one to fulfil a talent He has given, there is no running away from the times when you will be called upon to exercise that God-given talent.

Yes, I took some refresher lessons and stumbled through some difficult classical pieces. But as I practised with the band in my ministry, what I have discovered is that I can actually ‘play by ear’; something i never knew I could do. So at praise and worship sessions now, I pick up on the first note and just play away. People have come up to me and said that they see the joy in my playing and I just smile and acknowledge that it is God who is doing the playing. I am merely His instrument.

I have also played at a few retreats where the songs were more contemplative and have felt the retreatants’ struggles and sorrows through the music. I have even fallen to my knees in tears after an adoration session, where I was encouraged to play on after the choir had stopped singing. As the blessed sacrament went past me towards the sacristy, I could feel Jesus smiling upon me and giving me a pat of encouragement. It was truly a wondrous feeling and further affirmed my new-found faith in my God-given abilities.

At times, I wonder what ever possessed B to approach me all those years ago. I can only surmise that God prompted her to help me unlock the talent i had hidden away after 1979. Brothers and sisters, each of us has a God-given talent that He is waiting for us to exercise. One way to tell if it is from Him is if the fruits are life giving and if others get to enjoy it. My other half has had her passion for art reawakened and her pieces have already touched hearts. Where it takes her, only God will know but I know there is joy, hope and peace in her paintings.

So B, if you are reading this, you are my eternal spiritual benefactor. And I will always cherish that moment when you came up to me and asked, “Can you play at my wedding?”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, our talents are your gifts. Help us to exercise them fruitfully so that they may give life to those around us.

Thanksgiving: We thank you for the artists, caregivers, chefs, dancers, educators, entertainers, formators, healers, musicians, parents, poets, priests, relief workers, singers, teachers and anyone who exercises a talent.

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