The painting above titled, “The Calling of Saint Matthew,” depicts the gospel story in Mark 2:13-17 that we will hear in this Sunday’s worship service. The artist Caravaggio completed this scene circa 1600 for the Church of Saint Louis of the French, or San Luigi dei Francesi, in Rome. The painting still hangs there, among two other images of Matthew by Caravaggio, “The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew”, which was painted around the same time, and “The Inspiration of Saint Matthew,” that was completed in 1602. Together, the three paintings tell some of Matthew’s personal story as it unfolds over time, his calling to Christ, his inspiration in writing, and his martyrdom.
As I prepared this week’s sermon, I reflected on Matthew’s life, as portrayed in these three paintings. In the image “The Calling of Saint Matthew,” we see that moment suspended in time and space when Christ calls Matthew. Matthew has a moment of decision; he can stay where he is or join Christ in what will become a life of purpose and profound meaning.
At this moment, Matthew has no idea that he will write one of the gospels that we as Christfollowers treasure to this day. Matthew has no idea that he will carry the message of Christ to Ethiopia one day. In fact, his love and devotion will grow so much through his life that he will be martyred for Christ. It’s astounding to think of all that Christ will do in and through Matthew, as he steps out and heeds the call, “Follow me.”
It reminds me of the promise of I Corinthians 2:9, “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.” When Christ calls us to follow him, we cannot begin to imagine the life of purpose and meaning he offers to us. By grace, we step out each day to follow Christ’s call on our lives, and in doing so, we join him in a life of meaning and purpose. Today, may you be encouraged and filled with hope for the calling Christ has on your life.