Thursday, 20 September 2007

Feast of St Matthew the Apostle (21st September)

I'm at conference this weekend so this post is a day early.

This seems as good an excuse as any to do my Sister Wendy bit and rave on about one of my favourite paintings, the Calling of St Matthew by Caravaggio. This is a purely personal interpretation from one totally untrained in art appreciation. You are at liberty to find holes in my analysis.

I think the painting is awesome because to me it is the best representation of the Blessed Trinity I have ever seen. God the Father illuminates His creation, the light is not from a natural source like a window or door. God the Son directly calls Matthew (and Peter does the Lord’s bidding too). God the Holy Spirit is the look in the eyes of Matthew and Our Lord; all the loving, imploring and trust. The nature of the Holy Spirit is made clear. The Holy Spirit does not work through our instinct; Matthew is still instinctively fiddling with the money. The Holy Spirit does not work through reason alone as Matthew is still reasoning and you can hear him think “Do you really want me?”. The Holy Spirit is God and works with and through God the Father and God the Son.

What of Christ? He appears as a dark figure in the shadows. Perhaps this image is a little startling but it shows how we can be dazzled by false lights and miss the Light of the World. We are forced to ask ourselves how often we have failed to spot Our Lord and follow his calling.

What about Matthew himself? Fashionably dressed in such a way as to make him look a bit of a fool, his worldliness looks uncomfortable on him. You find yourself rooting for him to leave what he is doing and follow Christ.

What about the others in the painting? Some don’t appear to notice anything going on. One notices but doesn't seem bothered. One notices and although the workings of the Holy Trinity are not fully manifest in his reactions, you feel one day he could follow Matthew and follow Christ.

So real, and yet so mysterious. This is about as good as art gets.

1 comment:

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

I love all things Caravaggio. I was introduced to (cue dreadful spelling) chiarascoro-y'know use of light, with his work.

And St Matthew is great too :)