To complete his work
Puccini wrote “La Boheme” and “Madame Butterfly”. It was during his battle with terminal cancer in 1922 that he began to write “Turandoe”, which many now consider his best.
He worked on the score, day and night, despite his friends’ advice to rest, and to save his energy. When his sickness worsened, Puccini said to his disciples, “If I don’t finish ‘Turandoe’, I want you to finish it.” He died in 1924, leaving the work unfinished.
His disciples gathered all that was written of “Turandoe”, studied it in great detail, and then proceeded to write the remainder of the opera.
The world premiere was performed in the La Scala Opera House in Milan in 1926, and it was conducted by Toscanini, Puccini’s favourite student. The opera went beautifully until Toscanini came to the end of the part written personally by Puccini. He stopped the music, put down the baton, turned to the audience, and announced, “Thus far the master wrote, but he died.”
There was a long pause; no one moved. Then Toscanini picked up the baton, turned to the audience, and, with tears in his eyes, announced, “But his disciples finished his work.” The opera closed to thunderous applause, and to a permanent place in the annals of great works.
– “He sent the Holy Spirit to complete his work on earth” (Eucharistic Prayer IV).
– Jesus has won the war, he has claimed and proclaimed the victory. It only needs us poor foot soldiers to mop up, and to announce the victory.
– taken from “150 More Stories for Preachers and Teachers” by Jack McArdle
Joel 1:13-15; 2:1-2
Priests, put on sackcloth and lament.
Ministers of the altar, wail.
Come, pass the night in sackcloth,
you ministers of my God.
For the house of our God has been deprived
of oblation and libation.
Order a fast,
proclaim a solemn assembly;
elders, call together
all the inhabitants of the country
to the house of the Lord your God.
Cry out to the Lord,
“Oh, what a day!
For the day of the Lord is near,
it comes as a devastation from Shaddai.”
Sound the trumpet in Zion,
give the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the country tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming,
yes, it is near.
Day of darkness and gloom,
day of cloud and blackness.
Like the dawn there spreads across the mountains
a vast and mighty host,
such as has never been before,
such as will never be again
to the remotest ages.
When Jesus had cast out a devil, some of the people said, “It is through Beelzebul, the prince of devils, that he casts out devils.” Others asked Jesus, as a test, for a sign from heaven; but, knowing what they were thinking, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is heading for ruin, and a household divided against itself collapses. So too with Satan: if he is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? – since you assert that it is through Beelzebul that I cast out devils, through whom do your own experts cast them out? Let them be your judges, then. But if it is through the finger of God that I cast out devils, then know that the kingdom of God has overtaken you. So long as a strong man fully armed guards his own palace, his goods are undisturbed; but when someone stronger than he is attacks and defeats him, the stronger man takes away all the weapons he relied on and shares out his spoil.
“He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters.
“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man it wanders through waterless country looking for a place to rest, and not finding one it says, ‘I will go back to the home I came from.’ But on arrival, finding it swept and tidied, it then goes off and bring seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and set up house there, so that the man ends up by being worse than he was before.”
The first reading seems to be such a gloomy reading that I think I would find it hard to respond, “Thanks be to God” after hearing it proclaimed. The actual text refers to a swarm of locusts which descended on Judah, and is taken to be a sign from God that his day of judgement is near. Hence, the people are called to repentance, to prepare for the coming of the Lord.
In the gospel reading, we see that the kingdom of God has arrived with Jesus’ ministry in the world. Throughout the gospel readings, we frequently see Jesus casting out devils. Indeed this forms a large part of his ministry. Jesus casts out devils from the people, and later fills the people with another kind of spirit – the Holy Spirit.
Some of us have evil spirits with us. That’s not to say that we are possessed, but rather, some of us fall prey to the traps set by various evil spirits, for example, the spirits of impatience, of anger, of envy, of lust, of pride, etc. When we are delivered from these spirits, we need to fill up that space in us with another kind of spirit – the Holy Spirit. If we do not fill ourselves with the Holy Spirit, we can be quite sure that the evil spirit that we have been delivered from will return, bringing along many more evil spirits that will lead to the destruction of our lives and our souls.
Part of our mission in the world is to carry on Christ’s mission. Some of us are given the gift to cast out evil spirits. Some of us are given the gift of healing. Others have the gift of teaching, while others have the gift of preaching. Whatever our particular gifts are, we are all called to participate in Christ’s mission of letting the kingdom of God reign in our hearts, of being filled with the Holy Spirit, and of going where the Spirit calls us to.
Lord, help us to be open to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Send us the divine Consoler. Fill us with the gifts of your Spirit, and make the fruits of the Holy Spirit increase within us. Amen.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: The grace of receptivity.
Sat, Oct 13 – Joel 4:12-21; Luke 11:27-28
Sun, Oct 14 – 2 Kings 5:17-17; 2 Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19; Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.