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A team of 200 priests comment on daily Gospel

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Liturgical day: Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Gospel text (Lk 5,27-32): After this Jesus went out, and as He noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax-office, He said to him, «Follow me». So Levi, leaving everything, got up and followed Jesus. Levi gave a great feast for Jesus, and many tax collectors came to his house and took their place at table with the other people. Then the Pharisees and their fellow teachers complained to Jesus' disciples, «How is it that you eat and drink with tax collectors and other sinners?». But Jesus spoke up, «Healthy people don't need a doctor, but sick people do. I have come to call to repentance; I call sinners, not the righteous».

«I have come to call to repentance; I call sinners, not the righteous»

Fr. Joan Carles MONTSERRAT i Pulido
(Cerdanyola del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)

Today we see how Lent is moving forward and the strength of the conversion our Lord summons us to. The figure of the apostle and evangelist Matthew is very representative of those of us who think that, because of our background, or because of our personal sins or complicated life, we are unworthy of our Lord.

Well, no, we are not; to remove any doubt we might still have, Jesus Christ is offering us the possibility of following him, as He did with the first evangelist, Levi the tax collector, to whom He simply says: «Follow me» (Lk 5:27). With him Jesus does exactly the contrary of what a “sensible” and “wise” mentality would do. If today we wish to pretend being “politically correct”, Levi —instead— came from a world where he was openly rejected by all his compatriots, as he was considered, just because of the fact he was a publican, and a helper of the Romans and, possibly, as much of a corrupt by the “commissions” he might receive, who indulged in choking the poor to collect their taxes; in short, he was considered a public sinner.

Those considering themselves as perfect, could not even think of Jesus not only not requesting them to follow him but not even asking them to his own table.

However, by choosing Levi, Our Lord Jesus Christ is telling us that it is rather this kind of people whom He prefers to call to expand his Kingdom; He has chosen the sick, the sinners, those who consider themselves unworthy: «Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong» (1Cor 1:27). For these are those who need help, and as such, they will also understand those also in need.

We are not to think God wants spotless and immaculate followers to serve him. That privilege belongs only to Our Mother. But for us, subjects of God's eternal salvation and Lent's protagonists, God wants just a contrite and humble heart. In fact, «God has made you weak to give you his own power» (Saint Augustine). This is the type of person who, as the psalm says, God would not despise.