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Mercy on the edge

In the last couple of days following the book prepared by the Ignatian Spirituality Centre in Glasgow, 'Through Lent with Pope Francis', we have been asked to consider mercy. This painting by Jacob van Oost, 'The Call of Matthew' was presented for our meditation on Day 6.

Many have commented on the fact that Christ is on the periphery, as is Matthew. The soldier is in the centre, perhaps getting up to confront Christ or the act of his call, while the woman on the right (part of van Oost's family?) stares out at us, perhaps asking what we think.

The passage suggested by the Ignatian Centre to go along with this is from Pope Francis' 'Misericordiae Vultus.' An excerpt of which reads, 'The calling of Matthew is also presented within the context of mercy. Passing by the tax collector's booth, Jesus looked intently at Matthew. It was a look full of mercy that forgave the sins of that man, a sinner and a tax collector...'

I had never really thought before of how calling could be considered a mercy. It certainly looks like it here, with Matthew being called away from a useless way of life to a more fulfilling one. It all takes place on the edge, calling and mercy. They certainly have that in common. It is often in between the cracks, off the beaten track, and not centre stage that real mercy takes place, hidden, unsung. It is also in this way that we experience the call of Christ. Other things, other people, want to demand our attention, like that soldier in the picture. It is on the edge that we hear the call, away from what we thought was important to what turns out to be truly indispensable.

Our Lenten fast is all about putting us 'on edge' that we might hear a different more quiet voice, summoning us to a more fulfilled existence.

Canon Tom

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