I asked God to help me to see my life the way He sees it, so He brought me to Mass and Fr. George, who talked about a painting and so I looked it up and there I am. The painting is ‘The Calling of Saint Matthew’ by Caravaggio and it depicts the moment that Jesus comes upon greedy, tax-collecting Matthew and a few of his associates, coins scattered on the table. Jesus and Peter enter the darkened room and of course, bring the light with them, which startles the people who are seated. Jesus and Peter point toward Matthew in a way reminiscent of Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Man’ and in response, Matthew points to himself as if to say “Who, me?” And as we learn in Matthew 9:9, he then “rose and followed him”, changing his life forever.
The conventional interpretation is that Matthew is the bearded man who points to himself, but there is a theory that Matthew is, in fact, the young man with his face downcast, counting his money, and that all three men are actually pointing toward him. That’s the account that resonates with me, and I see myself in this Matthew. When Jesus enters the room, everyone looks up except for him. Matthew is stubborn, busily counting what he has and possibly, considering what he has lost. I relate to that. I spend so much time thinking about what I do not have that I miss Jesus at the door, calling me into the light. I look down more than I should and I keep track of losses more than I should. It occurs to me too rarely that God intends way more for me than darkness and loss. Even when everyone including God Himself is pointing directly at me and shining light, I find it hard to see. When we focus so much on what we don’t have, we miss the possibility of what lies outside the door.
In that moment before he looks up, Matthew has to consider leaving an old life behind. He has to leave the coins, records, and debts on the table, abandon his profession and everything he knows and trust that Jesus is leading him to a good place. This, astonishingly, he does.
What happened next for Matthew included having a front row seat as Jesus taught, raised a girl from the dead, and healed a bleeding woman who touched the hem of his garment. Matthew watched as Jesus brought sight to the blind, cast out demons and “proclaimed the good news of the kingdom and healed every disease and sickness” (and that’s just what He did in the rest of chapter 9!). After that, he witnessed and was a part of the life of God on Earth and later he wrote it all down in a book that billions of people have read.
Miracles can happen when we look up.
I love Matthew. I love his example and his potential and the way he was inspired and brave enough to live a whole new life. As for me, I really don’t want to keep my head down. I want to look up, find God who is always patiently waiting for me, and trust enough to go out with Him into the light. I want to see miracles and I want to write them down so that others will know Jesus. I want to make a difference in my time here, and I know that nothing is possible for me unless I will look up and leave my dark corner of loss and counting. In this beat before my head finally rises, I must dare to trust, accept, and be grateful for a very different life than the one I’ve known. Imagine what will happen when I do.