The famous trompe l’oeil ceiling of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola in Rome. Fresco by Andrea Pozzo, “Saint Ignatius Being Received into Heaven” (1691-94).

A reflection by pilgrim Tom Kolon

Yesterday, I had the chance to serve as deacon for Mass in the Church of St. Ignatius in Rome. It was a beautiful liturgy on a crystal blue day shared with family and friends. What a joyous opportunity!

Tom Kolon serves as deacon at Mass in St. Ignatius Church

And yet today’s Gospel reminds us to not look inward at a peaceful life but rather to focus outward (Lk 12:13-21). That no matter how beautiful, useful or enjoyable objects of this life are, they will all pass in the blink of an eye. Thus we are urged to instead direct our thoughts and actions toward that which is most important: an eternal life with God.

Later on, we were able to view one of my favorite paintings, ‘The Calling of St. Matthew,” by Caravaggio. Matthew, like Ignatius, did not see this call coming. Both Matthew and Ignatius were likely very content in their lives—financially set, full of self-esteem. But clear out of left field comes the hand of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. I was asked today how I became a deacon, and my answer was simply “I was asked by my pastor.” Sometimes the pointing finger of Jesus can be just that simple. Initially, like Matthew, I seemed to be pointing to the next guy, “Surely you mean him, right?” But once that thought was placed in my head there was no turning back.

‘The Calling of St. Matthew,” by Caravaggio

We are not always sure how but we all know deep down inside that Jesus is urging us all to set the world aflame. Sometimes it takes a call in the market and sometimes it takes a cannonball.

By the way, Ignatius was born on Oct. 23, 1491. Happy Birthday, Ignatius!