After this Jesus went out, and as He noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax-office, He said to him, «Follow me». So Levi, leaving everything, got up and followed Jesus. Levi gave a great feast for Jesus, and many tax collectors came to his house and took their place at table with the other people. Then the Pharisees and their fellow teachers complained to Jesus' disciples, «How is it that you eat and drink with tax collectors and other sinners?». But Jesus spoke up, «Healthy people don't need a doctor, but sick people do. I have come to call to repentance; I call sinners, not the righteous».
This call does give us lot of hope for conversion and we understand the need of the Lord, particularly our own participation in the accomplishment of the will of God. The Kingdom that Jesus has initiated in our time, needs our cooperation and support.
This participation is possible, only if we listen to this call and respond to this call in a positive way. Like Paul who responded positively to this call, and have tasted the divine mercy and love, this Levi, Mathew, too has experienced this love and compassion of the Lord. Certainly, it needs to be feasted and this feast does invite all like him to share his joy and also the Joy of the master.
Today, we have to ask ourselves, am I this Levi who respond positively to the call of God, or like these Pharisees who are generous in passing commands? Does my responding give joy to others and invites them to participate in the joy of the Lord?
A Daily Quote for Lent:
Our All-powerful Physician, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 AD
"Our wound is serious, but the Physician is all-powerful. Does it seem to you so small a mercy that, while you were living in evil and sinning, he did not take away your life, but brought you to belief and forgave your sins? What I suffer is serious, but I trust the Almighty. I would despair of my mortal wound if I had not found so great a Physician." (excerpt from Sermon 352, 3)
«I have come to call to repentance; I call sinners, not the righteous»
Fr. Joan Carles MONTSERRAT i Pulido
(Cerdanyola del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)
Today we see how Lent is moving forward and the strength of the conversion our Lord summons us to. The figure of the apostle and evangelist Matthew is very representative of those of us who think that, because of our background, or because of our personal sins or complicated life, we are unworthy of our Lord.
Well, no, we are not; to remove any doubt we might still have, Jesus Christ is offering us the possibility of following him, as He did with the first evangelist, Levi the tax collector, to whom He simply says: «Follow me» (Lk 5:27). With him Jesus does exactly the contrary of what a “sensible” and “wise” mentality would do. If today we wish to pretend being “politically correct”, Levi —instead— came from a world where he was openly rejected by all his compatriots, as he was considered, just because of the fact he was a publican, and a helper of the Romans and, possibly, as much of a corrupt by the “commissions” he might receive, who indulged in choking the poor to collect their taxes; in short, he was considered a public sinner.
Those considering themselves as perfect, could not even think of Jesus not only not requesting them to follow him but not even asking them to his own table.
However, by choosing Levi, Our Lord Jesus Christ is telling us that it is rather this kind of people whom He prefers to call to expand his Kingdom; He has chosen the sick, the sinners, those who consider themselves unworthy: «Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong» (1Cor 1:27). For these are those who need help, and as such, they will also understand those also in need.
We are not to think God wants spotless and immaculate followers to serve him. That privilege belongs only to Our Mother. But for us, subjects of God's eternal salvation and Lent's protagonists, God wants just a contrite and humble heart. In fact, «God has made you weak to give you his own power» (Saint Augustine). This is the type of person who, as the psalm says, God would not despise.