Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Hebrews 58:9-14 Psalms 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6 Luke 5:27-32
In the Gospel of today, Jesus was criticized for his kindness to sinners. This particular passage of the Gospel of Luke (whose source is probably Mark or Matthew) was a response to what was going on in the Christian communities between the Jewish Christians and those other Christians converted from paganism. The Jewish Christians found it difficult to sit at the same table with the pagan converts. This passage which is repeated in all the Synoptic Gospels gives a solution to that problem by presenting Jesus as an example. If Jesus who is God, our Savior sat and ate with the tax collectors and sinners, what about us who are sinners?
The pedagogy of Jesus is more practical. He did not just eat with tax collectors and sinners and allow them to continue in their lifestyles but he came to their level in order to lift them out of the condition in which they were. That is why he presented himself as a physician. He is the only physician who has the means to heal them from their sins. Just as the sick goes to the doctor, only those who acknowledge their sins can receive healing. All humanity is sick with sin, and it is a deadly disease that leads to death. God hates sin but welcomes sinners, and calls them all. He does not want anyone to perish, but desires that all should come to repentance.
From a tax collector; a sinner according to the Jewish society, Jesus made Levi his disciple, a strong and powerful proclaimer of the Good News. Levi who is also known as Matthew; the one to whom the first Gospel is attributed became a powerful proclaimer of the Good News of the Gospel. Jesus, in coming to earth, knew what he was coming to do – to gather the lost sheep of Israel – “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Just as Jesus called Levi, he calls every one of us today; He calls to salvation and discipleship. When Jesus looked at Levi and asked him to follow him, he left everything. So often we are led to believe that we can have Jesus Christ and the things of this world both at the same time. Luke shows us that the call to discipleship is a call to forsake all and follow Christ. Everything must pale in comparison to the person of Christ. We cannot have both. You can’t treasure material possessions, exoteric sects, etc. and treasure Christ at the same time.
This time of lent is an opportune time to come back to our Lord, for, as we read in the first reading of today, if we honour the Lord and not going our own ways or seeking our own pleasure, then we shall take delight in the Lord and He will make us ride upon the heights of the earth.
Let us pray
Support us, Lord, as with this Lenten fast we begin our Christian warfare, so that in doing battle against the spirit of evil we may be armed with the weapon of self-denial. We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen