Hendrick ter Brugghen: The Calling of St. Matthew
Centraal Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 1621
Gospel: Lk 5:27-32
After this Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me (NRSV, Lk 5:27).”
Let us pray.
Father, Jesus chose his close disciples, each during a passing encounter. I used to wonder what would have happened to them if they had hesitated or even said “No;” if Peter and Andrew and James and John had not dropped their fishing nets and left their boats to run after him; or if Levi, whom we also know as Matthew, had not gotten up from his counting table to abandon his profession of tax collector. There is also the case of the would-be disciple who wanted first to bury his dead father. Is it possible that he did actually abandon his deceased father to follow Jesus then and there? Or is there another, somewhat cryptic message for him, and us, hidden in Jesus’ challenge? We know, from the story, that the rich young man did walk away from Jesus saddened because of his attachment to his wealth. Was there a second chance for him? Many argue, Father, that you have a particular life’s work laid out for each of us? One can wonder what might be our fate if that opportunity is deliberately missed.
Father, what I have learned about you and my relationship with you has come to me in flashes of insight received now and then over the course of a lifetime. With each of these advances, I have acknowledged that it was always something that I knew all along but just did not seem capable earlier of putting into words. My conclusion, Lord, is that your Word to me has been spoken all along, the same one Word, everything that I have to know about you and everything else, spoken there within me waiting to be understood.
In fact the Word spoken, I now realize, is the Word speaking. Your Word, your Son, made flesh in our Lord Jesus, is always present to me. He not only reveals you to me in one spoken Word; that revelation also offers me your life. Even when I sin or resist his offer, your Word always remains present to me, calling me to conversion, offering me your forgiveness and new life. All of this is essential to my being a human being.
And that, Lord, gives me the answer to what I have so long wondered: every moment, not just one particular moment, is the saving moment. Every moment, every occasion is privileged. Regardless of what I have done in the past, of how many possibilities missed, each moment brings the opportunity of a new beginning.
Father, I am listening. Through your Word, ever present to me at the depth of my being, regardless of how I have responded up until this moment, you are calling me right now to die to myself and my past and to be reborn in you. Help me to accept and to say “Yes” now, and in every moment to come.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.