The Inspiration of Saint Matthew (1602) is a painting by the Italian master Caravaggio. Commissioned by the French Cardinal Matteo Contarelli, the canvas hangs in Contarelli chapel altar in the church of the French congregation San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, Italy. It is one of three Caravaggio canvases in the chapel: hanging between the larger earlier canvases of The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew, and The Calling of Saint Matthew.
The ordination or installation of a bishop at the beginning of his ministry is often celebrated on a major feast, particularly that of an apostle and/or evangelist (my ordination took place on the feast of St. Mark in 1995).
I love St. Matthew's feast because his gospel concludes on a mountaintop in Galilee with Jesus's mission challenge to the Eleven, who ("bowed down in worship before Him, though some doubted" [Matthew 28:17]), to make disciples of all nations, a task handed on to all Christians especially those called to serve in apostolic succession.
Matthew's gospel concludes with Jesus promise to be with His Church always "until the end of the ages" (28:20).
The breviary reading in the Office of Readings for Matthew's feast, taken from the Venerable Bede, describes an inner reality that is invisible to the eye or ear that only notes what is exterior to a person. I am including it here for our spiritual delight along with an excerpt below from Pope Benedict XVI's recent homily at an episcopal ordination in St. Peter's Vatican Basilica.
This homily on the gospel story of St. Matthew the Tax Collector become an Apostle (Matthew 9:9-13), was first given by St. Bede in the early 8th century.
Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him: Follow me. 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. This following meant imitating the pattern of his life - not just walking after him. St. John tells us: Whoever says he abides in Christ ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
And he rose and followed him. There is no reason for surprise that the tax collector abandoned earthly wealth as soon as the Lord commanded him. Nor should one be amazed that neglecting his wealth, he joined a band of men whose leader had, on Matthew’s assessment, no riches at all. Our Lord summoned Matthew by speaking to him in words.
By an invisible, interior impulse flooding his mind with the light of grace, he instructed him to walk in his footsteps. In this way Matthew could understand that Christ, who was summoning him away from earthly possessions, had incorruptible treasures of heaven in his gift.
As he sat at table in the house, behold many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. This conversion of one tax collector gave many men, those from his own profession and other sinners, an example of repentance and pardon.
Notice also the happy and true anticipation of his future status as apostle and teacher of the nations. No sooner was he converted than Matthew drew after him a whole crowd of sinners along the same road to salvation. He took up his appointed duties while still taking his first steps in the faith, and from that hour he fulfilled his obligation and thus grew in merit.
To see a deeper understanding of the great celebration Matthew held at his house, we must realise that he not only gave a banquet for the Lord at his earthly residence, but far more pleasing was the banquet set in his own heart which he provided through faith and love. Our Savior attests to this: Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
On hearing Christ’s voice, we open the door to receive him, as it were, when we freely assent to his promptings and when we give ourselves over to doing what must be done. Christ, since he dwells in the hearts of his chosen ones through the grace of his love, enters so that he might eat with us and we with him.
He ever refreshes us by the light of his presence insofar as we progress in our devotion to and longing for the things of heaven. He himself is delighted by such a pleasing banquet.
"The Church Is Not Our Church but God's Church"
Pope Benedict XVI's homily at the ordination of five bishops on September 12 recalls the significance of consecration to God's service. An excerpt from that homily:The imposition of hands happens in silence. The human word is inarticulate. The soul opens in silence to God, whose hand stretches out to man, who takes man for himself and, at the same time, covers him with his hand to protect him, so that consequently man becomes God's total property, belonging entirely to God and bringing others into God's hand. But, as the second fundamental element of the act of consecration, the prayer follows.
Episcopal ordination is an event of prayer. No man can make another man a priest or bishop. It is the Lord himself who, through the word of prayer and the gesture of the imposition of hands, brings that man totally into his service, draws him into his own priesthood. He himself consecrates the elect. He himself, the only High Priest, who offered the one sacrifice for all of us, grants him participation in his priesthood, so that his word and his work are simultaneously present at all times.
The Church has developed an eloquent sign of this connection between Christ's prayer and action on man in its liturgy. During the prayer of ordination, the opened Book of the Gospels, the Book of God's Word, is placed upon the candidate. The Gospel must penetrate him, the living Word of God must, so to speak, pervade him. The Gospel, after all, is not just words -- Christ himself is the Gospel. Along with the Word, Christ's life itself must pervade that man, in such a way that he becomes wholly one with him, that Christ lives in him and gives his life form and content.
That which in today's readings appeared as the essence of Christ's sacerdotal ministry must be realized in him. The one who is consecrated must be filled with the Spirit of God and live from him. He must bring the glad tidings to the poor, the true freedom and hope that makes man alive and heals him. He must establish Christ's priesthood among men, the priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek, that is, the kingdom of justice and peace.
Like the seventy-two disciples sent out by the Lord, he must be one who brings healing, who helps to bind up man's interior wounds, his distance from God. God's kingdom, about which today's Gospel passage speaks, is not something "next" to God, some condition of the world: It is simply the presence of God himself, who is in truth the healing power.
Jesus summed up all of these multiple aspects of his priesthood in the one phrase: "The Son of man has not come to be served but to serve and to his life for the ransom of many" (Mark 10:45). Serving, and in doing so, give yourselves; not being for yourselves, but for others, on God's behalf and in view of God: This is the most profound nucleus of Jesus Christ's mission and, together, the true essence of his priesthood.
Thus, he has made the term "servant" his highest title of honor. With that he achieved a reversal of values, he has given us a new image of God and of man. Jesus does not come as one of the masters of this world, but he, who is the true Master, comes to serve. His priesthood is not domination, but service: this is the new priesthood of Jesus Christ according to the order of Melchizedek.
St. Paul formulated the essence of this apostolic and sacerdotal ministry in a very clear way. Faced with disputes in the Church at Corinth which invoked different Apostles, he asks: But what is an Apostle? What is Apollo? What is Paul? They are servants; each in the way that the Lord has given him to be (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:5). "Let a man so account us as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now, that which is required of stewards is that each be faithful" (1 Corinthians 4:1-2).
Charlottetown and Saint Boniface Receive New Pastors
Today, two episcopal installations are taking place. Archbishop Luigi Ventura as Apostolic Nuncio will preside in Manitoba at the installation of Most Reverend Albert LeGatt (photo at left) as the seventh Metropolitan Archbishop of Saint Boniface.
I will attend the installation of Most Reverend Richard Grecco (photo below taken at his farewell celebration as Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto) as the thirteenth bishop of Charlottetown in St. Dunstan's Cathedral Basilica (pictured below).
Explanation of the Coat of Arms for Most Reverend Richard Grecco, 13th Bishop of Charlottetown
The colours red, white and green refer to Bishop Grecco's Italian heritage; green is also the colour of hope; red, of the Holy Spirit; white, of purity and joy.
The lily is symbolic of the Blessed Virgin Mary and identifies the name of Bishop Grecco’s mother, Lily.
The grapes symbolize the Eucharist and refer to the vineyards of the Niagara Region.
The shovel and hammer within the chevron symbolize the dignity of human work and the lifetime occupation of Anthony, Bishop Grecco’s father.
The anchor is an ancient symbol of hope and a reminder of the ships that pass through the Welland Canal Locks in Bishop Grecco’s home town of Thorold.
The "X" on the anchor is the Greek letter ‘Chi’, the first letter in the Greek spelling of the word ‘Christ’, our source of hope.
The motto is the final verse of Psalm 27 - "Hope in the Lord"