21 Sep 2011

The Calling of St Matthew



Fr Finbarr Maxwell, a Columban from Dublin who worked before in Pakistan and is studying in the USA at present, drew this painting to my attention when he gave a group of us here in the Philippines a retreat three or four years ago. The gospel of today's Mass for the Feast of St Matthew has a starkness and urgency about it. It's not how most of us hear our vocation or call, whatever it may be, from Jesus.

Fr Mike McGovern in the video points out that while Jesus and St Peter are dressed as men of their time and place, Matthew and his companions are dressed as contemporaries of Caravaggio. In other words, Jesus calls us where we are and in our times.

Matthew 9:9-13 (RSV Catholic Edition)

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him. And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. 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."

The Calling of St Matthew, Caravaggio, painted 1599-1600

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