This month we are going to look at a painting that doesn’t get much noteriety for the picture but I love the story behind it.
Calling of St. Matthew was an oil painting by Caravaggio that was known for its use of light to be the focal point in the painting. The subject matter is shown as the light from a window is beaming to show Matthew at a tax collection booth.
“Light is not so much something that reveals, as it is itself the revelation.” James Turrell (American artist)artsy.net
Baroque era paintings were known for their everyday subject matter in a piece that captured a revelation or something that was a life altering. Throughout Scripture, many life altering scenes pour out through the words on the pages.
Growing up reading about the calling of Matthew was never something I could envision as a movie scene. That’s how I read the Bible, it may not for everyone but I’m very much a visual person.
So instead, I tried to envision myself in a tax collection booth and think of what it was like to ask people for money and do math all day. I’ll wait till you all stop laughing. I would miss people and moving my body far too much.
The painting describes this life-changing Baroque scene…
9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, “Follow me,” and he got up and followed him. 10 While he was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came to eat with Jesus and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 Now when he heard this, he said, “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:9-13
And while this post isn’t meant to be life- changing but rather a reminder of the “light moment” (the revelation Turell was talking about) that changed you for the good. Maybe it was a marriage, birth, maybe it was a loss, maybe it was your calling. Envision it like the scene from this painting. Embed that in your heart. Let that fuel you and remind you of the one who called you out of despair (not just the math part, wink wink)– and follow the one who came for us, the sinners.
I’d love to hear your scenes if you would be so kind to share. I’m easy to find, just click my social media buttons on the homepage.