Friday, September 21, 2012

St. Matthew, Venerable Bede, and Uncommon Commons

Another re-run. But I like it.
Call of St. Matthew  (Caravaggio)

We use the Common of Apostles 12, no, 13 times a year. (Don't forget Paul).Well, now that I'm thinking about it,maybe 14, because Peter&Paul share a feast, but then there's Chair of Peter and Conversion of Paul. Whatever. 

 It's nice to use Commons because we don't have them half-memorized the way we do the weekdays of the 4-week psalter. Unfamiliar elements will jump out at you.  For instance, the intercessions in Morning Prayer are not really intercessions, if intercessions = petitions. They are Praises.  The intercessions do return to their normal petionary tone at Evening Prayer.

Then, antiphon I of Evening Prayer , You are the men who have stood by me in my time of trial, strikes one on first reading as the height of irony. I mean, the apostles most certainly did not stand by Our Lord in His time of trial, right?   So then, you have to think this over.....oh, right. If we think of "me" as the Church, the body of Christ, then the apostles really did have a chance to make up for what they did in Gethsemane, not only standing by, but giving their lives.

Although the apostles share a common, they get proper gospel canticle antiphons, concluding prayers,and, their own second readings in the Office of Readings. Matthew's reading comes from St. Bede the Venerable--aka  the Venerable Bede.  It opens with this verse from today's Gospel: Jesus saw a man called Matthew, sitting at the tax office, and he said to him: Follow me.  Bede then rivets our attention on the verb saw. Jesus saw Matthew. Really saw him. "Jesus saw Matthew not merely in the usual sense, but more significantly with his merciful understanding of men. He saw the tax collector and, because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him, he said to him: Follow me.

There's plenty more to the reading, but this is enough to take away for the day. Because, just as Jesus saw Matthew, he saw me. And sees me. With the eyes of mercy. It's not in spite of, but because of my being a poor, pathetic slob, attached to slingback pumps and snickers bars and many, many dumb things, that he calls me to follow him. In my better moments I want nothing more than to be lost in that merciful gaze.  Then I put away the breviary and with typical spiritual ADHD begin obsessing about whether I'm using the right facial moisturizer, or whether the living room needs new window treatments.
But he still sees me.
With mercy.
Thank God.


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