Saturday, February 28, 2009
Luke 5: 27-32
Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, "Follow me." And leaving everything behind,
he got up and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house,
and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them.
The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying,
"Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?"
Jesus said to them in reply,
"Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners."
Rev. Kevin P. Spicer, C.S.C. '
Every Monday, for one year, I volunteered to work in a soup kitchen. This was my first time doing such ministry. I remember Sr. Margery greeting me on my first day and introducing me to everyone who had arrived at her door to seek shelter and enjoy lunch.
The people who gathered there had a multitude of stories to tell. Many of these stories were sad and even depressing, revealing how society had marginalized and excluded them. Nevertheless, despite such difficult life experiences, some of those who shared their life stories still found the ability to impart hope and trust in their words. I was always amazed at this fact and gradually learned why: They knew they could come to a place where compassion and love prevailed. Sr. Margery cared for them and loved them unconditionally.
In the same way, we might also view the Gospel story from Luke. In this account, Jesus unconditionally shows his love and concern by eating and spending time with the tax collectors and "others" gathered at Levi's great banquet. At that time, they, too, were marginalized and ostracized because of their careers and life choices. Nevertheless, Jesus reaches out to them and offers them hope and acceptance.
Perhaps in our own lives, we are not socially marginalized or ostracized, but at times do feel destitute and greatly in need of care and love. It seems God has created us this way with this longing. In response, Jesus says to us, "Follow me." He says this unconditionally, without any stipulations, accepting us as we are - with our perfections and imperfections alike. In response we can only rejoice and feel grateful for the hope, care, and love that Christ always offers to us every day, unconditionally, without any power to repay Him except with our love.