First Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: 1Sam 9:1-4, 17-19; 10:1
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.”
Gospel: Mk 2:13-17
Jesus went out along the sea. All the crowd came to him and he taught them. As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed Jesus. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus heard this and said to them, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
HE SAW LEVI AND SAID, “FOLLOW ME”: Today, Samuel sees Saul, and anoints him to be king. In the gospel Jesus sees Levi who is considered a traitor, for he works for a colonial master and oppressor. Jesus refuses to focus on the sin and rejection, but rather on his sincere heart of change. The two types of “seeing” by Samuel and by Jesus, are extraordinary. They see what an ordinary eye or heart cannot see. In our human weakness, we fail to see the good that God sees in us and in our neighbours. The life-giving seeing of Samuel, is in response to the seeing of God. It allows God to work in Saul, making him king. The seeing of Jesus emancipates Levi, granting him a total turn, and making him a disciple. Through Levi, Jesus is able to see other tax collectors. Jesus desires to see us today and convert us, as we in turn see others. Are we ready?
Prayer: O Lord, help us to accept others as they are, because you created all in your Image.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTD: Jesus calls sinners to follow him. Notice that Jesus didn’t wait for the people to come to him at the synagogue, but he went to the people. Levi was a Jew who was a tax collector. He was an unlikely candidate to be called to follow Jesus. There are many today who believe God would never call them to follow him. They think, “God doesn’t want anything to do with me. I could never become a follower.” Our sins are not an obstacle to God. Like Paul many of his committed followers are with dubious history. There was a lot at stake for Levi here. If things didn’t work out for Peter or John, they could always go back to fishing. But a tax collector’s job was hard to come by. When Levi left his tax collector’s booth, it was a one-way ticket and he knew it. But he got up and followed Jesus anyway.
A WORTHY CHOICE: Money is among the greatest addictions. The search for it, takes up a large percent of our activities of the day and even leads to many of us engaging in sinful activities. Money remains elusive as no one appears to have enough. Yet, in today’s Gospel, Levi says that enough is enough. He leaves the search for money at once, when he encounters Jesus. What is it that he sees that makes him break free from an enslavement that many of us cannot? Is it the magnetic attraction of Jesus? Levi chooses the worthier option, as he leaves behind all that guided his life to this day. He learns that Jesus is the true physician needed for his soul. Jesus has the power to make and mold him to be an instrument worthy for God. Let us give ourselves away into the hands of Jesus. May we allow Him to mold us into what God has destined us to be. Let us not dwell in our past, sacrificing our present and future.