When Jesus went out again beside the lake, a crowd came to him, and he taught them. As he walked along, he saw a tax collector sitting in his office. This was Levi, the son of Alpheus. Jesus said to him, “Follow me!” And Levi got up and followed him.
And it so happened that when Jesus was eating in Levi’s house, tax collectors and sinners sat with him and his disciples; there were a lot of them, and they used to follow Jesus.
But Pharisees, men educated in the Law, when they saw Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does your master eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus heard them, and answered, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
If the story on the call of Levi were to happen today, with whom would Jesus be spending time? What kind of sinners would Jesus be eating with? Perhaps not just prostitutes, maybe drug addicts, corrupt government officials and politicians as well. In fact, he will be spending time with any of us who feel the misery of sin. Our sins are the very reasons why Jesus wants to be with us. The punch line is Jesus’ statement: “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” The example of Levi, a tax collector and thus, a sinner in the eyes of the righteous, gives us courage to approach Jesus and to follow him. I have heard people say that they do not feel worthy to follow the call to join the priesthood, the religious life, or to be a lay missionary, because they are sinners. The Gospel wants to demonstrate to us that when Jesus chooses us, he takes no notice of our achievements or human qualities. Instead he reckons with what is nothing and worthless to humble those who believe only in their own powers and righteousness.
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