January 15, 2022
Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we are introduced to Saul and Matthew. Both these friends of God went through a spiritual process to confirm that Friendship. The process included:
In our first reading, Saul first appears chasing a bunch of asses. (I’m not even going there. Draw your own parallels 🤣)
But in his heart of hearts, Saul had another agenda. He wanted to confirm that a growing vision within him was also God’s vision:
Saul met Samuel in the gateway and said,1 Samuel 9:1-19
“Please tell me where the seer lives.”
Samuel answered Saul: “I am the seer.
Go up ahead of me to the high place and eat with me today.
In the morning, before dismissing you,
I will tell you whatever you wish.”
Once our inner horizon begins to clear, our greatest challenge may be to trust what we see. For Saul, that power to trust came by benefit of Samuel’s anointing with oil.
As our jubilant psalm exerts, when we recognize God as our strength, our trust is confirmed:
O LORD, in your strength the king is glad;Psalm 21: 2-3
in your victory how greatly he rejoices!
You have granted him his heart’s desire;
you refused not the wish of his lips.
Each one of us, in our own way, experiences this spiritual process. Certainly we see it in how we find our life’s vocation. But we see it in smaller, daily ways as well. Each choice we make in life is a step toward or away from God – toward or away from Love, Mercy, Wholeness and Justice as we learn it in the Gospel.
In our reading from Mark, we witness Matthew in a critical process of “seeing-trusting-choosing”.
Wrapped in those verses is Matthew’s whole life up to this point – all the choices that left him leaning so toward God that he could drop everything in one transforming moment to follow God’s call.
Ah, what might Saul and Matthew inspire in us today?
Poetry: The Calling of the Apostle Matthew – James Lasdun
Not the abrupt way, frozen In the one glance of a painter’s frame, Christ in the doorway pointing, Matthew’s face Bright with perplexity, the glaze Of a lifetime at the counting house Cracked in the split-second’s bolt of being chosen, But over the years,slowly, Hinted at, an invisible curve; Persistent bias always favoring Backwardly the relinquished thing Over the kept, the gold signet ring Dropped in a beggar’s bowl, the eye not fully Comprehending the hand, not yet; Heirloom damask thrust in passing Stranger’s hand, the ceremonial saddle (Looped coins, crushed clouds of inlaid pearl) Given on an irresistible Impulse to a servant. Where it sat, A saddle-shaped emptiness Briefly, obscurely brimming … Flagons Cellars of wine, then as impulse steadied Into habit, habit to need, Need to compulsion, the whole vineyard, The land itself, groves, herds, the ancestral house, Given any, each object’s Hollowed-out void successively More vivid in him than the thing itself, As if renouncing merely gave Density to having, as if He’d glimpsed in nothingness a derelict’s Secret of unabated Inverse possession … And only then Almost superfluous, does the figure Step softly to the shelter door, Casual, foreknown, almost familiar, Calmly received, like someone long awaited.
Music: The Call – Vaughn Williams from a poem by George Herbert
Herbert’s short poem is simple and direct. It is almost completely composed of words of one syllable. Allusions to the Old and New testaments, as well as to the Church of England liturgy, abound in Herbert’s poetry. In this short poem there are references to Revelations 22:26: ‘Come, Lord Jesus..’ and to John 14:6, where Jesus is described as ‘the way, the truth and the life’. ‘Come’ is the call of the poet to God, but it is also the response of the poet to a call from God.
This poem has been set to music several times, notably by Ralph Vaughan Williams in his ‘Five Mystical Songs’.
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a Way, as gives us breath:
Such a Truth, as ends all strife:
Such a Life, as killeth death.
Come, My Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a Light, as shows a feast:
Such a Feast, as mends in length:
Such a Strength, as makes his guest.
Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a Joy, as none can move:
Such a Love, as none can part:
Such a Heart, as joys in love.