Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him.
When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
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.
There is a famous Caravaggio painting in a Roman church that depicts the call of Levi which we read about in today’s gospel. The painting is an incredible study in light and darkness. Bright light through a window behind Jesus shines directly on Levi’s face. This same light catches Jesus’ outstretched hand as he interrupts the counting of money and gestures towards Levi. You can almost hear Levi’s response—“What? You want me?”
This encounter, frozen in time and space, echoes one of those moments described in today’s passage from Hebrews when God’s word is described as “living and effective, dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow…it judges the reflections and thoughts of the heart.”
It is good these early days of 2015 to pay attention to God’s movements within our own hearts. Perhaps Jesus isn’t as direct with us as with Matthew. Yet gently and surely Jesus invites each person to walk with him more closely. Jesus invites me to understand anew just how he is truly my way, my truth, my life…here and now, this week, this month. And then… how do I respond?
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Why, then, do I fear?
God is here, deep within, forever:
Life grandly vibrant,
Love scandalously flagrant,
yet heart quietly homing
and lord wisely lording.
But, then—why do I fear?
—excerpted from “The Inmost Fear” by David Hassel, S.J., in Hearts on Fire, ed. Michael Harter, S.J. © Loyola Press, 2004.