After this, Jesus went out, and noticing a tax collector named Levi, sitting in the tax-office, he said to him, “Follow me!” So Levi, leaving everything, got up and followed Jesus.
Levi gave a great feast for Jesus, and many tax collectors came to his house, and took their places at the table with the other people. Then the Pharisees and their followers complained to Jesus’ disciples, “How is it, that you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” But Jesus spoke up, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I have not come to call the just, but sinners, to a change of heart.”
Today’s two readings, despite their apparent diversity of presentation (the first is an exhortation, whereas the second is a straight narrative), nevertheless convey the same message: conversion or turning to God is always a cause for rejoicing. Why? Because God is the source of our happiness. We are made for God like fish are made for water. And when we find God, we find happiness.
In the case of Levi, he is so happy about Christ’s call to join his band of followers that he throws a wild party in honor of Jesus. And apparently there is a kind of strange solidarity among all those social outcasts. For Levi’s fellow tax collectors join in the party. They seem to think that, if one of them has been judged worthy to follow a man of God like Jesus, maybe—just maybe—God could perhaps accept to forgive their way of earning their living?
What is most mysterious in all this is the encounter Levi-Jesus. What kind of man could turn around another man’s life with these two words, “Follow me?” What did Levi see in the eyes of Jesus that reached the depths of his soul and made him willing to follow Jesus to the ends of the earth?
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