Saturday 14 January 2023 – To call the … sinners

1st Week in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Heb 4:12-16

The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account. Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

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.”

I did not come to call the righteous but sinners: Before his call, Levi had an “indecent job”, for he was a tax-collector. Due to the sensitive nature of the job, people like Levi were contracted. Such could not resist the temptation of corruption, exhorting from the people, and taking more that was required. People like Levi had obvious bad reputation in the community and could not fully participate in worships because they were public sinners. Of all people, Jesus went for Levi to be part of his community. and one might ask; what attracted Jesus to this public sinner? And what is more? He follows him to his house, and there shares a meal with the sinner and other sinners. Meanwhile to the scribes and pharisees who question Jesus’ action he responds: “… I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” Jesus came for us and he searches for us every day. Like Levi and his friends, he invites us the celebrate the grace and transformation his presence brings into our lives.

Prayer: Lord you called Levi and he left everything and followed you, help us to hear your call and leave our old lives behind to follow you.            Amen.


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 canot 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.