The Calling of St. Matthew by Caravaggio is Pope Francis’s favorite painting. The painting is about St. Matthew with the tax collectors counting all their money on His collection table and being surprised by Jesus pointing His finger towards Him. And St. Matthew responded like “why me?”
When Pope Francis was still a Cardinal there’s a report that He used to visit the church of St. Louis of the French to admire the works of Caravaggio.
In an interview by the Rome Reports to Fr. Filipe Herrera of the Community of St. Louis of the French he said: “Jesus, who looks at us, and who calls us from our weaknesses, sets an example by calling Matthew out of this place where he was, from his collection table to make him an apostle. The pope understood this: the Lord does not call the gifted, but gifts those He calls so they can be at the service of the Church.”
The Calling of St. Matthew had a very special meaning to Pope Francis and to His calling. That’s why even His Papal Motto “Miserando atque eligendo” is from the gospel of the calling of St. Matthew which means “by having mercy, by choosing him”.
When the first time I was able to hear this story by Pope Francis, I was amazed and affirmed by His humility as He relates His Calling to St. Matthew. So I went back to read the gospel of the calling of St. Matthew. In the bible, there are three accounts where we can read this wonderful story. In Matthew 9:9-13, Mark 2:13-17, and lastly on Luke 5:27-32. I read and tried to reflect on this beautiful story. Just like the Pope, God became personal to me in this gospel and allowed me to look back on How He called me to be a missionary.
I remember God called me to be Mission Volunteer year 2018. But just like St. Matthew when Jesus called Him, Jesus found Him with a bag that was full of money. Jesus found me with a bag as well. And inside of this bag, are my doubts, fears, sins and all the negativity that I have in my heart and in my mind. But through this gospel God reminded of two things:
When God called us, He is full of Mercy
In Matthew 9:13 Jesus said “I desire mercy not sacrifice I didn’t come to call righteous but sinners” when God called me it reminds me of being unworthy to His love, because of my sins. But Jesus reminds me that He called me not because I’m a righteous person but because I’m a sinner and he wants me to be changed by His love and mercy. We are all sinners, that’s why all of us are called by God as well. God wants us to be cleansed from our sins and it will only happen by responding to His mercy, by following Him.
When God called us, He want us to leave everything
On Luke 5:27b-28 “He said to Him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything behind and followed Him.” Matthew left His all possession and followed God.” When Jesus called me to be a mission volunteer I was affirmed by Him that saying “Yes” to be His missionary is leaving not only my sins in the past but also my desires that are not aligned to what God’s desire to my life. Responding to God’s call is surrendering everything to Him. Leaving everything at His hands and allowing Him to fulfill His plan for your life.
We may feel unworthy because of our sins, but remember God’s mercy overflows and overcomes our unworthiness. God will always make us worthy in His eyes. He will always choose us because He loves us and our response is to simply choose and love Him everyday.
“Miserando atque eligendo”
Smith Pinera is a Mission Volunteer for MFC Youth serving under the area of NCR North