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A team of 200 priests comment on daily Gospel

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Liturgical day: Saturday after Ash Wednesday

1st Reading (Isa 58:9b-14): Thus says the Lord: «If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; if you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted, then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday. Then the Lord will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land. He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails. The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake, and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up; ‘Repairer of the breach’, they shall call you, ‘Restorer of ruined homesteads’. If you hold back your foot on the Sabbath from following your own pursuits on my holy day; if you call the sabbath a delight, and the Lord's holy day honorable; if you honor it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or speaking with malice, then you shall delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken».
Responsorial Psalm: 85
R/. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.
Incline your ear, O Lord; answer me, for I am afflicted and poor. Keep my life, for I am devoted to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God.

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for to you I call all the day. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you. Hearken, O Lord, to my prayer and attend to the sound of my pleading.
Verscicle before the Gospel (Ezek 3:11): I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, says the Lord, but rather in his conversion, that he may live.

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.