Lk 5: 27-32
This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (And all the people who heard this, including the tax collectors, acknowledged the justice of God, because they had been baptized with John’s baptism. But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves.)
“To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.’
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Today’s gospel is deceivingly simple: Jesus invites Levi the tax collector to follow him, and Levi responds immediately. Then Levi throws a banquet for his nefarious friends, Jesus, and the disciples.
It’s easy to stand in judgment with the Pharisees and their scribes. Why does Jesus call tax collectors and sinners, let alone break bread with them? They’ve made their choices, and they’re not among the righteous.
But look again.
Levi has “seen the light,” and his conversion is so complete that he wants to share his new life with his friends, old and new. Through table fellowship, Levi accepts the disciples, and they accept him.
The Pharisees, whose narrow view of salvation is more self-righteous than righteous, complain to the disciples. This is an important element of Luke’s narrative, for it signifies a question of his time and ours: how are Christians to behave?
Jesus provides the answer: seek those in need. Be compassionate. Offer forgiveness. Invite.
Levi represents the hoped-for response—repentance and conversion. Biblical scholar Fr. Robert Karris, OFM, puts it perfectly: “The grace of God’s call is free, but not cheap. A change of life is required” (The New Jerome Biblical Commentary).
In the Our Father, we pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” This Lent, how can we judge less and forgive more? How can we reach out to others, especially those at the margins?
—Jeremy Langford, Director of Communications for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits. Adapted from his book, Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.
our holy founder, man of great desires and
Pray for us
courageous warrior ever seeking new souls
Peter Faber, first companion of Ignatius and
cherished friend of all
Edmund Campion, fearless orator and
source of courage to the persecuted
Aloysius Gonzaga, consolation and care for
the sick and the dying
Robert Bellarmine, rich of mind yet poor
of spirit and all the Saints of the Society of Jesus,
Pray for us.
—Excerpted from “Litany of Jesuit Saints,” by Louis McCabe, SJ, and Philip Steele, SJ
For a printable version of this prayer from JesuitPrayer.org, click here.