Friday, September 21, 2007

St. Matthew - The Call of the Common Man

Here is Michaelangelo's impression of Matthew, the tax collector. He is on the run, his account book still in his hand. His full attention has been drawn elsewhere as his muscular body strains to respond to the call of Jesus, "Follow me." There is no doubt about him at all. The Gospel says simply, "...and he got up and followed." Presumably he led the way to his home where he entertained Jesus and his followers giving his new teacher another venue in which to verbally spar with the Pharisees who watched his every move. On this occasion Jesus would also model in their sight his ideal of compassionate service to the other.

Matthew has been about the crass business of the world and has done what that world expected. Jesus presents a compelling alternative. Today I pray for all of the Matthew's of today's world, all going about the business of living in this society, in this culture, with its own Pharisees leading the way. The good looking guy at the top is my own son Matthew. He's an artist. The rendering at the right, the original no more than four by six inches, is his pencil drawing of an historic site in Kingston, New York, the Old Dutch Church. Matthew makes a living setting precious gems in rings of gold and serving as an I.D. inspector/bouncer at a local bar popular with young people. My youngest son tends bar at the same establishment. All on the up and up and in the good graces of the local police. Both have great women in their lives for which I am very grateful. But the 'world' is ever present to them. It leads crassly, demands much, and often presents stumbling blocks each step of the way. Matthew's greatest talents are being subsumed by the need for necessities. Perhaps that is what Jesus saw in Matthew. There was more to Matthew than keeping the account books and doing the dirty work for Roman oppressors. The power and energy for good that Jesus may have recognized were attested to by Matthew's eager response.

I pray that my son Mathew and all the young Matthew's of this world remain open to that other voice, one that calls them to their finest natures, to fulfillment in serving the true self, in contributing to the well-being of society. I pray that the loss of faith in time honored institutions and traditions implied in the oft quoted, "Oh, I'm spiritual. I'm just not religious." has not rendered them deaf to the voice of God speaking out to them in their busy world.

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