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Liturgical day: Saturday 1st in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (1Sam 9:1-4.17-19; 10:1a): There was a stalwart man from Benjamin named Kish, who was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite. He had a son named Saul, who was a handsome young man. There was no other child of Israel more handsome than Saul; he stood head and shoulders above the people.

Now the asses of Saul’s father, Kish, had wandered off. Kish said to his son Saul, «Take one of the servants with you and go out and hunt for the asses». Accordingly they went through the hill country of Ephraim, and through the land of Shalishah. Not finding them there, they continued through the land of Shaalim without success. They also went through the land of Benjamin, but they failed to find the animals.

When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the Lord assured him, «This is the man of whom I told you; he is to govern my people». Saul met Samuel in the gateway and said, «Please tell me where the seer lives». Samuel answered Saul: «I am the seer. Go up ahead of me to the high place and eat with me today. In the morning, before dismissing you, I will tell you whatever you wish». Then, from a flask he had with him, Samuel poured oil on Saul’s head; he also kissed him, saying: «The Lord anoints you commander over his heritage. You are to govern the Lord’s people Israel, and to save them from the grasp of their enemies roundabout. This will be the sign for you that the Lord has anointed you commander over his heritage».
Responsorial Psalm: 20
R/. Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
O Lord, in your strength the king is glad; in your victory how greatly he rejoices! You have granted him his heart’s desire; you refused not the wish of his lips.

For you welcomed him with goodly blessings, you placed on his head a crown of pure gold. He asked life of you: you gave him length of days forever and ever.

Great is his glory in your victory; majesty and splendor you conferred upon him. For you made him a blessing forever; you gladdened him with the joy of your face.
Versicle before the Gospel (Lk 4:18-19): Alleluia. The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor and to proclaim liberty to captives. Alleluia.

Gospel text (Mk 2,13-17): When Jesus went out again beside the lake, a crowd came to Him and He taught them. As he walked along, he saw a tax collector sitting in his office. This was Levi, the son of Alpheus. Jesus said to him, «Follow me». And Levi got up and followed Him. And it so happened that while Jesus was eating in Levi's house, tax collectors and sinners were sitting with Him and His disciples for there were indeed many of them. But there were also teachers of the Law of the Pharisees' party, among those who followed Jesus, and when they saw Him eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, «Why! He eats with tax collectors and sinners!». Jesus heard them and answered, «Healthy people don't need a doctor, but sick people do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners».

«I did not come to call the righteous but sinners»

+ Fr. Joaquim MONRÓS i Guitart
(Tarragona, Spain)

Today, Saint Mark tells us how Jesus taught and how the crowd came to Him. In those days, they were as hungry of doctrine as we are today, ignorance being always our worst enemy. Let us not forget the expression: «They will hate no more when they ignore no more»...

As He walked along, Jesus sees Levi, son of Alpheus, sitting in his office and, says to him: «Follow me» (Mk 2:4), and Levi leaves everything and follows Him. With his promptitude and generosity Levi scored his biggest “business”. Not only the “business of the century”, but the business of Eternity, too.

It would be worth our mulling over Roman tax collectors, who ceased to exist a long while ago, while Levi —better known today as Matthew— keeps piling up profits with his writings, as one of the twelve pillars of the Church. This is what happens when we promptly follow our Lord. He said: «And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life» (Mat 19:29).

Jesus accepted the banquet Matthew offered Him and His apostles at home, together with other tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees —who always seemed to prefer witnessing how others worked— felt like informing His disciples that their Master was eating with people they considered as sinners. The Lord hears them and, in self-defense, He answers: «I did not come to call the righteous but sinners» (Mk 2:17). Mankind is in hard need of that divine Healer. We are all sinners and, as Saint Paul says, «for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God» (Rom 3:23).

Let us always answer as quickly as Mary used to do when responding to Her vocation as co-redeemer.