Jesus And Matthew: An Unlikely Encounter
Caravaggio: The Call of Matthew
Matthew is one of those saints that I seem to take for granted. We read his Gospel accounts quite often and so he seems to be always there in front of me. I also have to admit that his gospel account is the one that I usually have the most difficulty with because it brings my sinfulness right out in front of me, and while that is a good thing, it is not an easy thing.
All that being said, I felt a little more drawn to reflect on St Matthew as we celebrate his feast today. I found myself drawn into that day when, much to Matthew's most likely surprise, he was called by Christ to follow Him.
Here is where my reflection on this day in Matthew's life drew me...
It was a day like most others. I got up and prepared to set out for another day's work. I didn't think much about what I was doing or about what would happen this day; it would be a day just like all the rest~ a day of working for a government that has imposed itself on our land. As for my part in all of it, I was just trying to make the best of it and earn a living in the meantime. But that same sense of dread I felt each day was with me once again. I am growing tired of doing a job that brings me the hatred and scorn of those around me, even my own family and so called friends. If only there was a way out, but where, how. This is what I know and it keeps me in the way and style of life I have grown accustomed to; I want for nothing, at least in the ways of this world.I was sitting at my counting table, counting the days income and putting aside what was rightfully or not so rightfully mine when in a moment I looked up and saw the man they called Jesus approaching in the distance. I had heard of Him and the message of love , peace and hope he was preaching. I also had a pretty good idea of what this Rabbi would think and say of me and what I do.I continued counting the days earnings and then realized this Man was now standing in front of me, speaking to me. He may have said more, but the only words I heard were: "Follow Me." All I could think was: "Me, You want me, wretch that I am, to follow You? What good could I possibly do You?" Those thoughts passed in a fleeting moment and the next thing I knew I was on my feet walking away from all that I knew into I had no idea what.I may not have known the details of what following Jesus would be, but I knew at hearing that two-word invitation, "Follow Me" that it was my way out of the life of dread I had come to know and live. It was my invitation to life as it should be lived. Despite all the confusion I was feeling, I knew accepting that invitation was just what I needed and what I had been secretly longing for.How little I knew then that from that moment on, my life would never be the same again. This Man Jesus was my how and where out. I followed Him and never looked back.
Fr. Mark at Vultus Christi has a beautiful reflection and meditation on the Call of St Matthew using the Caravaggio painting I have used in this post.