The calling of matthew , the tax collector, in today’s gospel , was portrayed by the great Italian painter Caravaggio. He portrays Jesus as walking past matthew, pointing at him with his index finger. The “calling” is quick, with Jesus walking past him, and the feeling one gets while gazing at this masterpiece : NOW is the moment, matthew. If Matthew remained at his custom’s post with the others in the portrait, jesus just would have kept walking on.
Each person is “called” no less than Matthew, and this “call” is to reorient one’s life to the Gospel. It demands a change , and for Matthew , it meant giving up his corrupt livelihood. Jesus is walking by you, ceaselessly, without fail , and if you are like most of us reading this, you miss the moment. But Jesus won’t give up: he keeps walking by, pointing his finger, asking us to change something about our lives. NOW us the moment….Carpe Diem!!
What the portrait doesn’t show is Matthew getting up , leaving his post and following Jesus. But that is exactly what he did. Later, Matthew invited jesus to his home for a dinner party, causing many to wag their finger in disapproval. Jesus used his finger to call a person to have life and have it in abundance; Jesus’ detractors,those scandalized by his eating and befriending terrible sinners, caused them to use their finger to judge and condemn.
Lent us the time…NOW us the moment to encounter jesus in your heart of prayer…he is looking at you…gazing on the beauty of your very being…loving you in your brokenness and pointing you to follow him. He won’t tell you where he is leading you, but most certainly, a feast awaits.
Lent always leads to Easter.
Peace and Joy. Fr. Frank
Note : I included a photo of the portrait by Caravaggio. It’s the best I could do. Google the portrait for a better shot.