The call of Levi
Reading: Luke 5:27-32
Jesus noticed a tax collector, Levi by name, sitting by the customs house, and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And leaving everything he got up and followed him. In his honour Levi held a great reception in his house and with them at table was a large gathering of tax collectors and others. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples and said, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus said to them in reply, ‘It is not those who are well who need the doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the virtuous, but sinners to repentance.’
In this passage, we see Jesus reaching out to one of the most reviled members of society. Jesus is not concerned about the man’s reputation as a tax collector, He desires to invite Levi into a deep personal relationship of intimacy with him and invites him to follow him. Levi’s response is immediate and total. He leaves everything and follows Jesus. He hosts a banquet for Jesus because he recognises who Jesus is and wishes to offer him the most gracious hospitality.
Levi challenges me to reflect on my response to Jesus’ invitations to me. Do I listen for his invitations in my daily life or have the cares of the world deafened my inner ear to the voice of my God? In the quiet moments, when I hear God’s calls to me, am I so conscious of my unworthiness that I run from his gentle or challenging voice and choose not to listen. My heart may be so full of fear that I may think that Jesus would not be interested in my story. In prayer, I hear him say to me, ‘what do you need to leave behind so that you can fully commit your life to me.’ I hear his gentle voice reassure me that he knows the full story and will give me the grace to follow him wherever he may lead me.
I am also aware of the attitude of the Pharisees and their scribes to the presence of Jesus with the tax collector. I am challenged not to judge others who have been called by the Lord. Jesus calls whom he wills; it is not my place to choose his companions for him but on occasion I may say, ‘he or she is not worthy to dine with the Lord.’ The bountiful mercy of our God reminds me that Jesus embraces all and wishes each one to be made whole in his love. I ask forgiveness for my harsh judgements and exclusion of others.
Lord, you reached out and touched all with an embrace of love. You did not judge but wished that all were made whole. Compassion and mercy were the garment you wore, wrapping the wounded in your healing arms. May I be open to all whose lives I touch, not judging, but setting free hearts that ache, calling forth new life and thanks for the gift of a new day.