(c) Mary TV
Dear Family of Mary!
I could not resist! Stefanie was able to transcribe Fr. Leon’s homily of September 21, 2020, the Feast of St. Matthew. I believe it is something we all should hear and take in. So here is the full transcript.
English Homily in Medjugorje
The Lord be with you.
At that time, as Jesus passed on, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose up and followed him. And as he sat at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice.’ I came not to call the righteous but sinners.”
Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
The painter Michelangelo Caravaggio – now he’s more popularly known by his surname because of the other Michelangelo, who is the famous one: Michelangelo Buonarroti…
Caravaggio was a bit of a bad boy. He was… actually, he was a terrible person in many ways – which is why he is one of my favorites. He was always getting into fights. He had addictions; he was gambling. And he was very religious as well.
He tried running away from his past, but his past was always catching up with him. And he went in desperation to do penance on the island of Malta; lived with some monks. He had no money to pay them; so he made many paintings. So a lot of “Caravaggio’s” ended up in Malta. And then his past caught up with him again. And he accidentally killed someone. And he was on his way to the Pope to beg for forgiveness when he died on a beach somewhere not too far from the Pope.
Caravaggio is famous for a technique in painting we call “chiaroscuro.” Chiaroscuro means “light and shadow.” Before Caravaggio, people who wanted to paint shadows, they painted black. And it was black. But Caravaggio didn’t do that. He painted a deep red and then over that, he painted black. And then when you look at it, you realize that the darkness has a certain depth to it.
The reason he did this was because of the darkness within him. He knew that the darkness is not just dark. The problem is, if you stare too long at the dark, you realize that the dark has a pair of eyes and is staring back. Caravaggio knew evil because he saw it within himself. This is the reason, you know, when people do stupid things like reiki or tarot cards or Ouija board, then they’re surprised that they have evil spirits attaching to them. Don’t be surprised! If you stare at the dark, the dark stares back.
Now, chiaroscuro: light and shadow. In the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome – this is the national French church in Rome; it’s the church I always stopped at every time I passed by, and I think I passed by once a week – there’s a famous painting of the gospel you heard today: The Call of St. Matthew.
In it you have Jesus pointing at Matthew, calling him. Okay. And then you have Peter next to Jesus pointing like, “You mean, him?” And then you have Matthew pointing, “Do you mean me?” Okay. And all sorts of things are going on. First of all, Caravaggio deliberately paints the source of light in the whole painting as Jesus. Now you think, you know, light would come in from a window. But look at this painting carefully – look it up on the Internet – and you’ll see the light actually comes from Jesus outwards, and all the shadows follow accordingly.
Now, the finger-pointing is important. Let’s go back. Let’s start at the ending. Matthew – there’s actually two Matthew’s: There’s one Matthew pointing and wondering, “Do you really mean me?” and then there’s another Matthew who is busy still counting the money, not looking at Jesus. Caravaggio is saying, “When you are called by God, you have a choice.” You can carry on with your lousy life; still counting the money, in Matthew’s case. Or you can look at Jesus and say, “Do you mean me?”
Now Matthew here is beset by doubts: Am I worthy enough? Do you really mean me? Do you even know who I am? Do you know my name? And of course, the Lord knows us. He knows us by name and call us, by name. So, we have the first obstacle: my own doubts about myself, my unworthiness, my thoughts about my unworthiness, my unsuitability, surely someone else will be far better for this? Okay.
The second one, the one that hampers us perhaps more, is Peter: “You mean, this guy?” Our friends and family – these are the people who do not want us to change. You come back from Medjugorje and they say, “Ahhh, now you’re pretending to be ‘Holy Joe,’ but we know what you’re really like. Don’t try and fool us. We know what the measure of you really is.” And these are the major obstacles in our spiritual life: other people and listening to them.
Which is why, you know, people tell you, you’re… …I remember, you know, in my childhood – Indian childhood is a terrible thing, you know. I think Indian parents have said this before, as soon as your child is born, start saving, not for college, but for therapy. Okay? For therapy. Because, when I was a child, I was told, “you’re clumsy,” “you’re good for nothing,” blah, blah, blah. And then later on, when I grew up, I kept believing I was clumsy. Then I found I was actually quite capable. And I thought, “They were lying; they were lying when they told me I was… whatever.”
And also another lie that they told me, was they kept saying to me, “You’re shy, you’re shy.” So, I believed this. And I used to, you know, I thought, I acted shy; and I believed this. And I remembered once, I was in Oxford in my 30’s, training as a Dominican. And I was at dinner with my friends, and I said to them, “You know, I’m really shy.” And they did the best thing anyone could have done for me, they all burst out laughing. And they were crying with their tears running down their faces. And they said, “You, shy?! How ridiculous!” And when they did that, I thought, “Oh yeah, I’m not actually shy.”
So, don’t believe the stuff people tell you about yourself! Why? Because they’re just projecting their own rubbish at you. Their own inadequacies, their own failures, their own weaknesses. And they – because they’re bitter, and horrible, and twisted, and ugly – they throw it at you. And say, “Oh, you know, you’re whatever. You’re such and such.” And you just have to shrug your shoulders and say, “Whatever.” Do not believe them. It is absolute nonsense.
Then, here comes the cure: How you don’t have to believe them? Jesus! How does He point? Caravaggio deliberately does something very beautiful and very clever. When Jesus points, he makes Jesus’ hand do something like this (gestures with a softly curved pointing hand). And I hope that is familiar to you. Because, it is on the Sistine Chapel on the ceiling. When God creates Adam, He points something like this. Caravaggio is saying, “When Jesus points at you and calls you by name, it is like when God created Adam.” Jesus is creating you anew. He is making you a new creation by calling you by name.
Matthew is not actually Matthew’s name. We’ve seen the gospels. He is known as “Levi, son of Alphaeus.” And here, he is called, “Matthew.” Why? Most likely, Jesus gave him a new name. Meaning, “you are a new person. I make you new!” Forget about your past. Forget about what other people say about you. Forget about your own doubts about yourself. You are a new creation through the Holy Spirit, through the action of Jesus, by the Love of the Father. This is what happens to us in the call of Jesus.
I said, “Do not stare at the dark too long. The darkness has eyes and will stare back.” Do not be obsessed with evil and the occult, and those kinds of stupid things. Look only at the light. Chiaroscuro. Caravaggio knew that. Don’t look at the darkness. Look at the light. And the Source of Light is Jesus.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen, thank you Fr. Leon! We long to be called by Jesus. To be chosen by Him, as Matthew was chosen. Our Lady said to us:
“Dear children, Also today as I am with you in the great love of God I desire to ask you: Are you also with me? Are your hearts open for me? Do you permit me with my love to purify and prepare them for my Son? My children, you have been chosen because, in your time, the great grace of God has descended on earth. Do not hesitate to accept it. Thank you.” April 2, 2008
We have been chosen because the great grace of God has descended on earth. That grace is the presence of Our Lady! And she is choosing us to become her apostles of love, just as Matthew was chosen to be an Apostle of Jesus. Can we respond to that great grace? Do we feel the call? Are we ready to become a new person in Christ. I believe we are!
In Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
(c)Mary TV 2020