Saturday of the First Week of Ordinary Time
“I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
This passage of Mark shows us once again how comfortable Jesus was with people from every stratum of society. Levi, the tax collector, is not regarded as fit company by the religious leaders of his times. Yet Jesus is pleased to include him in his circle of friends, even to sit at his table and dine with him. This is not only a sign of friendship or fellowship but also a gesture of real intimacy.
Certainly Levi knows his sinfulness. His own people, who avoid him, hurl bitter words at him, and look down on him, remind him of it every day. But Jesus pays no attention to these judgmental gestures. When he sees Levi sitting at his post, Jesus looks deeper than others and sees something in Levi that others do not. Then Jesus calls him to be one of his followers.
Jesus acceptance of Levi’s invitation to eat in his home must have been such a surprise, such a consolation! This is the wonder and beauty of our God, for he calls us in our “sickness,” in our “sinfulness,” and surprises us with his love and forgiveness.
Saint Paul reminds us that God shows his love for us because Christ died for us while we were still sinners (see Rom. 5:8). So, like Levi, we all need a Savior, a divine Physician to heal us. This Physician will reveal to us our weaknesses, will speak to us words of comfort and hope, and will finally heal us so that we can be healthy bearers of his name.
The call for each of us is to accept our condition as sinners, to relax, wipe away the fear and pray: “Come, Lord, into our houses, into our lives. Heal us and enfold us in your embrace of love!”
Lord, Eternal Physician, I would like to consider myself among the healthy and virtuous. It feels more comfortable, more prestigious. Yet that is not the kind of person you call. You call those who know they are sinners. And in all honesty, when I look within myself, I see my weak and unhealthy state. Help me, like Levi, to acknowledge my sinfulness, my weaknesses. Isn’t this the first step toward change? Lord, take me by the hand and lead me one step at a time toward what you consider to be true virtue, true health!
Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.