“Shine It Up”
Saturday after Ash Wednesday
The Gospel gives us the story of the tax collector called Levi. Jesus simply said to him “Follow me” and Levi left everything to follow Jesus and we know the rest of the story. It’s a conversion story of a man who was corrupt and sinful and who was hated by his fellow citizens. His alienation and ill repute came from selfishness and greed. But Jesus shows us that nobody is beyond redemption.
Levi later held a great banquet for Jesus at his house which provided Jesus a forum to reveal the great mercy of God. The Gospel tells us the dinner was attended by “a large crowd of tax collectors”. These were people who we say needed to go to confession before receiving communion at mass. They were unclean for worship and probably didn’t care either. Jesus dining with them would also render him unclean, except he is the one who makes clean and he is the one heals and brings mercy.
Jesus puts their religious thinking in proper order as he responds to the question posed by the Pharisees, “Why do you eat with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus reply says because they are the ones who need, healing, compassion, mercy and conversion: “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.”
Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners. I say “Thank God” to that, because that’s us. Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” We don’t know how many of the other tax collectors at the dinner repented, but we do know that Levi, whom we call Matthew gave us a beautiful Gospel. Tomorrow, on the First Sunday of Lent we’ll hear the Temptation of Jesus in the Desert, from Saint Matthew.
This time of Lent is a time when were all called to repentance and conversion just like Matthew and everyone at the banquet. For most of us it’s probably just a fine tuning. It’s amazing, we’re all created in the image and likeness of God and Lent is the time for us to polish up that image so it shines brilliantly when we arrive at Easter. Jesus our Divine Physician is waiting to heal us so the light of the Gospel shines in our eyes.
Fr. Patrick Daugherty, C.P.