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  • Sarah Raad

Beggar

“That is my violin that He is playing.That is my violin!”

Inspiration of Saint Matthew (Carvaggio)

I recently heard a very beautiful story about a beggar who was playing the violin on the street, busking.


In the story, a renowned violinist walked past the begging man and asked him, “Do you mind if I tune your violin for you?” The beggar replied that he would appreciate that very much. And so, the violinist tuned the beggar’s violin and began to play a tune. Very soon, passers-by stopped to listen to the music the violinist was playing. Meanwhile, the beggar began to pass around his hat to collect the contributions of the crowd, saying, “That is my violin that he is playing. That is my violin!”

And I have been reflecting on that story of the beggar and the violin, because it appears that in this story, the difference between begging and performing was as simple as a little expertise in tuning… And I have found this a useful analogy to understand the merit I may bear if only I could – through GRACE – submit to the Holy Will of God… You see, if I could make myself like that beggar and accept my MASTER’S Hand to tune the instrument of my soul, then I could be used for something so beautiful that other souls would stop to listen to what I had to say – for they would be seeing the Master in me…

Saint Therese of Lisieux wrote in her autobiography, “The Story of a Soul” about a particular nun within the convent who she found most disagreeable. Knowing that she was experiencing a particular challenge to love this nun, Saint Therese made a point of seeking her out, sitting next to her and being friendly with her. In particular, she made a special point of always smiling at this nun. One day – the other nun who was so troubling to Saint Therese – remarked to the Saint that Saint Therese must love her very much indeed because she was always smiling at her and always seeking out her company! And I have been reflecting on this story too, because in this story, Saint Therese made herself like the beggar and handed her violin over to the master, and in this way, Saint Therese proved such a beautiful instrument in God’s hands, because she could see her Beloved even in this woman…


And in reflecting on this, I have come to understand that my Beloved is not waiting for me to present to Him a perfectly tuned violin – a soul perfectly capable of loving Him… Because He told me – twenty centuries ago, before I was even formed in my mother’s womb – that He came to call me…


“And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ But when He heard it, He said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’” (Matthew 9:11-13).


For though I am a sinner, I could become an instrument in God's Hands for the conversion of many others. And then I – like the beggar – could call out to the crowd, “That is my violin that He is playing. That is my violin!”


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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