The Touch of the Master’s Hand (Grad 2012)
I have been somewhat negligent in updating this site for the last few weeks as I’ve spent a great deal of it on retreat with a variety of different school & parish groups. Last weekend, I was invited to the grade 12 prom for Fr. Gerard Redmond Community Catholic School in Hinton, AB, where the students had invited me to give an address to the graduates. The following is the text I had prepared and shared with them (and it applies to my friends from St. Thomas Aquinas who graduate tonight):
Fr. Thomas Dubay points out that human beings are the only creatures in the world capable of boredom. Cows, for example, are not capable of being bored, even if they look that way. This is true only because of the God-given capacity to love each of us has been given. These grade 12 students, whom I have been blessed to spend time with on retreat and in their religion classes over the past few years will recall that I have had a common theme each time that I have spoken to them. What I hope they understand – more than anything else – is that God has created them for something amazing. I have cited more intelligent people than myself to explain this to you, people like Pope Benedict XVI:
Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.
The Old Testament Prophet, Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:11):
For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.
And of course, our Lord Himself (John 10:10):
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.
Given that fact you shouldn’t be at all surprised that my thoughts today have a similar theme. Myra Welch wrote a beautiful poem which should give you a clear picture of what I wish to say to you today:
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 understnad 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.
As you prepare to set out on some amazing journeys that will take you to the four corners of the earth, as you enter careers and professions that may revolutionize the way we live our lives, as some of you make choices that will demand heroic sacrifices that only human being – the crown jewel of all of God’s creation – are capable of, there is one reality, one truth I hope all of you clearly know and understand:
YOU ARE LOVED.
A musician who restores and brings life to an instrument is a pitiful comparison to the great love you’ve been shown by your parents from the very beginning of your lives, giving up sleep, comfort, freedom, and a great deal of themselves for you or the love your teachers, as constant companions throughout your educational journey have shown. What each has tried to do over your lifetime is to try to show you what it means to live and to love.
On a night like tonight, this should be very obvious to you. What may be less obvious is the One whose love for you was the reason He had an idea of you in the first place, the reason He has set out a plan full of hope for you, and the reason He came to give you life. You are loved by your teachers, parents, and by God.
A musician can walk into a store and play a beautiful song on a brand new instrument, or can coax a beautiful tune out of an old, broken one as in the poem. An instrument exists to make music in this way. There are moments when you may feel like either of these- brand new and wonderful, or beaten up. Regardless, God wants to sing His song in your life, wherever that may lead. As a human being, one who is merely beginning your adult adventure, you are distinctly capable of bringing that song into the world – something that those bored-looking cows could never do.
Congratulations to you, graduates. I hope and pray that you let God sing that song in you.