Jesus saw a tax collector, named Levi, sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he left everything, and rose and followed him.
And Levi made him a great feast in his house; and there was a large company of tax collectors and others sitting at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes murmured against his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Jesus called Levi and said, “Follow me,” he left everything and followed Him. Read this again, this time imagining Jesus is calling you, “Follow me.” Jesus doesn’t just call the pious and holy among us. All of us have a history. We are all born with a fallen nature, original sin, with the exception of Mary and Jesus. We are all sinners. Yet, Jesus calls each and every one of us to follow Him. Are we willing to drop everything to follow Jesus? He may not be calling us to actually leave our families and friends, as He did with His Apostles, but He may be calling us to service within the Church, either as a priest, lay minister, or even a catechist. He may be calling us to marriage or single life. He may be calling us to minister to a friend or family member who He needs comfort. Are we willing to get up now and answer Jesus’ call as Levi did?
Jesus then is found having a great feast with Levi, and with a large group of (gasp) sinners! The Pharisees are not talking directly with Jesus, but instead talking against Him with Jesus’ disciples. This is similar to the scene at the fall of man. The serpent doesn’t talk directly to God, but instead he talks to Eve tempting her to doubt what she knows about Him (Genesis 3:1-7). Also, notice that the disciples do not go to Jesus and ask Him about why He’s eating with sinners, just as Adam and Eve didn’t go to God and ask Him about taking the fruit. Here is where we must break the cycle of doubting God because of what others are saying and go directly to the source! If someone tells us something about God that doesn’t sound correct, don’t just believe them and begin to doubt God. Go and look it up in the Bible, pray about it, or go talk to a priest or someone who knows more about the Truth. Do research and God will reveal the truth of who He and His Son is.
Jesus, knowing the Pharisees are trying to create doubt among the new believers, answers them directly and reveals why He has come to those who need Him the most. Jesus came to save the sinners, the ones who are in need of forgiveness, and those who are willing to repent and change their lives. He did not come for the proud and the wise of this world. He did not come to please those who are only acting holy and righteous because they are the hypocrites. He wants us not to be dependent on our own knowledge and understanding, but completely vulnerable and dependent on Him. We need to break down the walls of sin and pride and admit to ourselves that we can not navigate without Jesus leading us. He is calling, “Follow me.” Rise and follow Him!
Lent in Action:
Discern about something God has been calling you to do.
Jesus, show me where you want me to follow you today. Take away any obstacles blocking my way, any fear or doubt, and show me the work you need me to do the bring glory to God. I have many questions about You and your Father, show me the answers through your Word and other holy people so that I do not doubt you. I ask this through your holy name, Jesus Christ. Amen