The wonderful Italian composer, Giacomo Puccini, who wrote the opera “Madame Butterfly” among many other operas, was stricken with cancer while at work on his last opera “Turandot.” He told his students that “if I don’t finish it, finish it for me.” Shortly thereafter he died. “Turandot” is about Princess Turandot and is set in the Forbidden City in Peking, China (now called Beijing). Unfortunately Princess Turandot, while a beautiful woman, is also filled with hate and rage toward men because one of her ancestors was brutally slain by a conquering prince. Her heart is literally “ice.” However anyone who can answer three questions that are posed as riddles will be able to marry her and very soon a Prince Calaf becomes smitten with her beauty and is willing to answer these questions. Others who have not been able to answer these questions are put to death. The first question is, “What is born each night and dies each dawn?” The second question is, “What flickers red and warm like a flame, yet is not fire?” And lastly, “What is like ice but burns?” Prince Calaf answers these three riddles with, “Hope, Blood, and Turandot!” Now Turandot is quite dismayed by these answers and begs her own father not to turn her over to a stranger, in fact she does not even know his name. However if she can learn his name by dawn, Calaf agrees to forfeit his life. At this point a young slave girl, named Liu whom Calaf had smiled upon in the past, reveals that she does know Calaf’s name. Turandot has her tortured to reveal Calaf’s name but she remains silent. Turandot asks the girl her secret as to why she can endure such pain and Liu replies, “Love.” Turandot filled with further rage orders the torture to be intensified but Liu snatches a dagger from one of the soldiers and takes her own life. Turandot is now alone with Calaf who takes her in his arms and forces her to kiss him. Turnadot, knowing physical passion for the first time in her life begins to weep and Calaf tells her his name. Turandot approaches the throne of the Emperor and announces Calaf’s name which is “Love.” In 1926 Puccini’s favorite student, Arturo Toscanini, conducted and directed the premiere of “Turandot” in Milan, Italy. When the opera reached the point where Puccini was forced to put down his pen, Toscanini stopped the music and turned to the audience and cried out, “Thus far the Master wrote, but he died.” Suddenly a reverent silence filled the opera house. The Toscanini then picked up his baton and smiling through his own tears cried out, “But the disciples finished his work.” At the conclusion of the opera, the audience broke into a tumultuous applause. We are still in the season of Easter and the Master, Jesus Christ has died for our sins, risen from the dead, and will soon ascend to the right hand of the Father. If Jesus is the Lord and Saviour of your life, then how prepared and willing are you to help finish the Master’s work? If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.