Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

A Horse, A Helper, A Harp

This is one of our readings for today, from The Lectionary:

James 2:14-26

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters,* if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. 20 Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith without works is barren? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. 23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’, and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.

When I read it, I took it personally. In last night’s concert, several of the tunes were by an Irish composer, Turlough O’Carolan, considered the last great Irish harp composer. He came from a poor family, given work and help by a Mrs. MacDermottRoe, who educated Turlough and saw promise in him. He was blinded by smallpox at eighteen.

Imagine. 18 years old. Blind. It could embitter you for life.

Mrs. MacDermottRoe gave Turlough “a horse, a helper and a harp” and Turlough went out to make his living by composing tunes and setting poetry to them, earning his keep by composing for individual patrons and by performing at events like weddings and funerals.

What a wonderful, great act of faith! She didn’t say “Peace be with you and good luck!” She gave him a means to support himself and trusted that he would make use of it. He was a prolific composer, and his works are often played today. When I read today’s reading in James, it just reinforced the message. Mrs. MacDermottRoe put her faith into action, changed a young man’s life and gave a great gift to the world.

You can read more about Turlough O’Conner at Wikipedia: Turlough O’Carolan or at a biographical website, where you can hear one of his tunes while you read.

November 15, 2010 - Posted by | Biography, Character, Charity, Entertainment, Music, Work Related Issues

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