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Imagining the Lectionary: Righteousness, risk and authority: exploring Matthew's passion (Proper 21A/Ordinary 26A)

Reflection accompanying images: “St Matthew the tax collector”, “Enter at own risk” and “No unauthorized person

Toddy Hoare’s striking ciment fondu panel depictiing a naked St Matthew sitting in his tax booth at the moment of his call to become a disciple is on display in the grounds of Burton Agnes Hall in East Yorkshire. My treatment of the rather bland looking original emphasises the exceptional moment of transforming grace when Matthew’s old identity, narrowly centred on money and greed, is entirely displaced by total immersion in God’s expansive righteousness met face to face in Jesus.

I believe that this singular paradigm shifting moment is the hermeneutical key which opens up the whole amazing vista of the inclusive intention of divine love which is so characteristic of this Gospel. Having been one of the despised and excluding ones, a pariah who was a stranger to righteousness, Matthew’s great concern for the all-inclusive nature of grace is entirely understandable. Tax collectors and prostitutes, outcasts and rejected ones, the lowly, the poor and the left outs; these are the ones who are centre stage in the drama Matthews unfolds.


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