The Calling of St Matthew, Caravaggio
I am grateful to all of you for making me go to Rome to prepare for this sermon. I had to go twice and each time I happened to be presented to the Pope. How interesting that I remembered him but that he did not appear to recognise me! This was quite incidental to my having to be in Rome to visit the church of San Luigi dei francesi close to the Piazza Navona. The church houses several Caravaggio paintings.
Caravaggio could well be the kind of resident artist well-suited to St Matthew’s. He travelled widely, like Father Philip. He mixed with a very wide group of friends, just like the congregation of St Matthew’s does. I shall stop there, I think, while the going is good. I am particularly fond of the Caravaggio painting The Call of Matthew which was my roman homework. Accompanied by Peter, Jesus bursts into the dark room of the counting house bearing a miraculous light about him and points to the seated Matthew as the sign of his call. Matthew points to himself as if to say, ‘Do you mean me?’ Matthew’s companions either do not notice Jesus’s appearing or are ambivalent to him. Matthew, the unlikely one, is chosen; and there is no time to tarry. Jesus is already poised to turn and return to the wider world. He wants Matthew to follow him out into the world right away.