Saturday after Ash Wednesday, Feb 20
Isaiah 58: 9-14 / Luke 5: 27-32
Jesus talks about his mission: " "I came for those who need help.
Recently a convict sent a prayer he wrote to a Jesuit newsletter called Twofold. A portion of it reads:
"Dear heavenly Father, I come to you a bent and broken man. . . I come to you from prison, from a place that's called death row and ask that you take pity, Lord, on a convict's wretched soul.
Do we have the same sincere repentance for our sins that Jack Joe has for his? “The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none” Thomas Carlyle.
Jesus came to call sinners. It is they that need him, not so much the just, the righteous. It is the sinners who need healing. We are among them, and so we need healing. The Pharisees considered themselves just, but there was little mercy in them; their hearts were dried-up, and it is mercy that Jesus wants, not sacrifices.
Jesus comes to encounter Levi-Matthew. Just a call, and Matthew leaves everything behind: his desk, his past. He is a new man, created anew by Christ. He lives now for the future. His converted heart will turn to others too, as he becomes an apostle. In this eucharist Jesus comes to call us and to change us; he sits at table with us, as he did with Levi-Matthew.
At any point in time, we can surely think of a person or
persons that we have difficulties relating with. We may just feel uncomfortable
about that person, or cannot accept certain qualities about that person, or
that person may have hurt us before. Hence human relationships are often laced
with anything from indifference to intolerance. Of course, we being the
disciples of Jesus will try and strive to resolve our differences.
But the moment we get hurt again or feel that it is pointless or feel that there can be no change for the better, we will immediately and conveniently give up. But in today's gospel, we see Jesus approaching someone whom we would automatically ostracize in our lives, especially if that person has betrayed us and sold us out. Levi was such a person and yet Jesus not only approached him, but even called him to follow Him.
Jesus came to bring together all peoples into the peace and unity of God's kingdom. In our Lenten journey ahead, let us heed the word of the Lord from the 1st reading. Let us release our clenched fists and drop the wicked word. Then our light will begin to shine for others and our own shadows will be shortened.
Lord our God, merciful Father, when you call us to repentance, you want us to turn to people and to build up peace and justice among us all. According to your promise, let us become, with your strength, lights for those in darkness, water for those who thirst, rebuilders of hope and happiness for all. May we thus become living signs of your love and loyalty, for you are our God for ever. Amen.