Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Homily for Holy Thursday: The Touch of the Master's Hands

You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

Have you ever known someone who was a master at something? Have you ever had a teacher that was just so far beyond anything you thought you could ever be? A few years ago I heard the violin played in the most beautiful and powerful way that I ever had. It was here at St. Barnabas during mass that I first heard Andrew Sords play the violin. As he moved the bow across the strings it literally brought tears to my eyes and tugged at my heart. I can remember coming home to my parent’s house after the Christmas and Easter masses saying “You would not believe the violinist that played at at mass.” I was so moved by the beauty and power with which he played. It stirred a sense of wonder and beauty and presence in me at the Eucharist.

To my surprise, a couple of Christmases ago, I opened up a package to discover a violin. I have to admit my first feeling was dread… I mean, I love when Andrew plays the violin, but I could never play like that. How would I ever find the time? But with a little practice every day it has brought me great joy… I’m not sure about the other priests in the rectory (Fr. Ralph was hoping I would donate it to the missions in El Salvador), but I have so enjoyed producing that perfect sound that comes when all is right.

So what I’d like to do now is give you a little example of the difference between the student and the teacher, the novice and the master, myself after only three lessons and Andrew Sords who has devoted his life to the violin.
[I will play a piece on my violin (won’t sound so good) followed by Andrew playing a piece on my violin (will sound awesome).]

With that difference in mind I’d like to share this poem with you:

The Touch of the Masters Hand
Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
thought it scarcely worth his while to waste much time on the old violin,
but held it up with a smile; "What am I bidden, good folks," he cried,
"Who'll start the bidding for me?" "A dollar, a dollar"; then two!" "Only
two? Two dollars, and who'll make it three? Three dollars, once; three
dollars twice; going for three.." But no, from the room, far back, a
gray-haired man came forward and picked up the bow; Then, wiping the dust
from the old violin, and tightening the loose strings, he played a melody
pure and sweet as caroling angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low,
said; "What am I bid for the old violin?" And he held it up with the bow.
A thousand dollars, and who'll make it two? Two thousand! And who'll make
it three? Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice, and going and
gone," said he. The people cheered, but some of them cried, "We do not
quite understand what changed its worth." Swift came the reply: "The touch
of a master's hand."

And many a man with life out of tune, and battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, much like the old violin, A
"mess of pottage," a glass of wine; a game - and he travels on. "He is
going" once, and "going twice, He's going and almost gone." But the Master
comes, and the foolish crowd never can quite understand the worth of a soul
and the change that's wrought by the touch of the Master's hand.
-Myra 'Brooks' Welch

“The change that is wrought by the touch of the Master’s hand…” As we celebrate today The Mass of the Lord’s Supper we will experience the touch of the Master’s hand. God who is the creator of all the universe, the heavens and the earth, comes to us in human flesh to touch our feet, to wash us in the water of life, and to feed us with His own Body and Blood. The touch of the Master’s Hand… Many a man with life out of tune, and battered and scarred with sin… we are like that old, dusty out of tune violin. When we are the one’s playing our lives and not God, it’s like me the student attempting to play as only the master could play. There’s not much value. Ah but when we allow the master to use us… When we allow the master to take us into His hands and touch our souls we will radiate His Beauty and Glory. The only way that we can share this gift with others is if we first allow him to touch us, to play through us, to wash our feet so that we too like the master can begin to wash others.

Just as the violin doesn’t sound like anything special when I play it, it takes on a new life when played by the master violinist. In a few moments you will be invited to have your feet washed and shortly after you will be invited to come to the table of the Lord and be fed with the Body and Blood of Christ. In this Eucharist we allow ourselves to be touched by the master… and the foolish crowd never can quite understand the worth of a soul and the change that's wrought by the touch of the Master's hand.

[Andrew to play a short meditative piece at the end]

see the video from the mass:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the words! Does this mean I can close my eyes during the homily. Father you were definitely touched by the Master's hand as you prepared these inspirational words. Thank you for them and I won't throw tomatoes during your violin playing. Happy Easter to you and your family.


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