A Whittler, Some Fish, and Our Meager Gifts

July 24, 2021

"God does not perform miracles for us while we sit idly by. We are to take an active part in our own salvation."


Antonio lived in the town of Cremona, Italy. Cremona was famed at the time as a center of music. It seemed that everyone in the the town either sang or played a musical instrument. All except for Antonio.

When he tried to learn the violin, he as all thumbs. When he tried to sing he sang so badly his friends called him “squeaky voice.”

And so Antonio resigned himself to sitting off to the side, whittling on a piece of wood while he listened to his friends create music.

One day an elderly gentleman stopped while listening to the friends and asked them to sing a particular song again. When the had finished the man dropped a gold coin into the hand of the singer. A cold coin was a significant sum, especially to a group of young boys.

“Who was that?” asked Antonio.

“Why that was Nicolo Amati,” answered one of his friends, “the greatest violin maker in all of Italy.”

Antonio looked down at the block of wood he was carving away at and suddenly had an idea. The next morning he presented himself at the home of Amati and told the master, “I cannot sing, or play, but I can carve. I want to learn how to make violins.”

Amati agreed to take on the eleven year old Antonio as an apprentice and in time, when Amati passed on, Antonio took over the business. Antonio Stradivari, the boy who could not sing or play, became the greatest violin maker the world has ever known because he offered up the gift that he had.

In the Gospel account of Jesus feeding the 5000, Andrew shows us this type of faith. The apostles are faced with a problem that does not seem to have a solution. How to feed 5,000 men in addition to the women and children?

Philip can only think in terms of what is possible and what is not. “Two hundred days’ wages… would not be enough.”

But Andrew senses there is something more at work. Andrew remembers the wonders he has seen and offers up what little he has for the Lord to work with, a boy with five barley loaves and two fish. Even so, he offers them tentatively, still not sure of the great events he has become a part of. But it is enough.

Andrew teaches us. Remember that Jesus created wine from water at Cana. And he used mud and spittle to cure a blind man. God requires us to bring what we have, however small or meager, so that His love can transform it and return it to us in good measure, flowing over. God does not perform miracles for us while we sit idly by. We are to take an active part in our own salvation.

This is the faith we are called to have, a faith that spurs us to take action. It is a beginning we must have to allow God to do great things for us.

Pax Vobiscum
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Read more at www.DeaconLawrence.org

© Lawrence Klimecki

Saint Gorge © Lawrence Klimecki

Purchase fine art prints by Deacon Lawrence here.

Deacon Lawrence draws on ancient Christian tradition to create new contemporary art that seeks to connect the physical and the spiritual.. For more information on original art, prints and commissions, Please visit www.DeaconLawrence.org 

Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith


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