Amos 8:4-6, 9-12
Matthew 9:9–13


The Italian artist Caravaggio has a painting of this scene from Matthew’s Gospel of the call of Matthew. Like most of his paintings, he plays with light and dark. The room is dark, with 5 people around a table. The light comes from a window somewhere to the right where the 2 figures of Jesus and Peter are standing, as though they are the light in the darkness of that room. They are pointing to Matthew who is seated at the table. Jesus does not hold his arm out in a firm extension, like a demand, but rather a gentle gesture of invitation. Peter represents the Church, indicating that Christ’s call comes to us through the Church. The figures at the table respond to the invitation in different ways. There is a young man in fine clothes in front of Matthew who is clearly interested in the invitation but is leaning in the opposite away. He represents the rich young man’s response to Jesus’ call. At the opposite end of the table are a young and old man. Their focus is on the money on the table and their bodies are drab, heavy, almost depressed as if their meaning of life is reduced to the money in front of them. There is another man at the opposite side of the table to Matthew who looks intently at Jesus and is leaning towards him, but what is difficult to discern is that his hand is reaching for the sword on his belt. He sees the call of Jesus as a threat. Then there is Matthew. He is pointing to himself as if to say, “Me? You want Me?” His eyes are soft with emotion, humility and love at being called by Christ.

Caravaggio’s message is for all of us. Like Matthew, Christ invites us to follow him. The painting asks us individually, of the 5 figures seated around the table, which one is me?

Fr. Ray Sanchez CP is the leader of the Oxley community and is responsible for Parish Missions and Retreats throughout Australia and NZ.