Intention: As Lent begins, may each of us hear and answer God’s call to turn ourselves away from sinfulness and embrace the wholeness of truth, integrity, and justice.
Today’s Gospel | 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.”
A Lenten Reflection
The story of the call of Matthew provides a powerful lesson on how easily our biases and judgements can mire us in absurdity. Two groups of men, both supposedly consecrated to doing the will of a faithful and saving God, cannot understand why Jesus would absent himself from them and choose to be with known sinners. Jesus’ explanation was as eloquent as it was simple: because that is who I am.
In the course of daily life, we often forget, maybe even reject, that each of us comes to this world with an identity that gives our existence a transcendent purpose. We all dwell, both individually and together, in a single fabric of relationships where we discover and complete ourselves in our connectedness one to another. A person’s faith journey is really about walking through and absorbing this experience. As author Joseph Campbell once suggested, “Our true reality is in our identity and unity with all life.”
When we spend our lives insulated and disconnected from this reality, we lose touch with what makes us fully human and we drift away from our best and truest selves. Jesus taught much through his words, but he taught mostly through his choices: where he went, who he served, how he lived. The time of Lent calls us to reflect on the fact that what we choose to do is also who we choose to be.
Eternal Father, each day we have the choice of whether or not to live our lives with faith and integrity. We pray, fill us today with the determination to turn away from pride and self-deceit, and to turn again to humility, sincerity, and decency. Especially, help us to view without judgment the lives and the needs of others. In this time of Lent, may acknowledge and mend the faults in ourselves, and serve you by helping to heal the brokenness of our world. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.