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Starting Over Already?
Saturday after Ash Wednesday
After this, he went out and 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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to follow you, leaving behind all that you ask of me.
- Two Simple Words: “Follow me.” Matthew left it all behind. What was he thinking as he responded to those two simple words of invitation? Obviously, he was willing to detach from a lucrative business. Perhaps he was already a man of righteous leanings, and knew enough to recognize his need for Jesus and leave his career behind. “Follow me…” We know from experience that following Jesus is easier said than done. We say “yes” and persevere for awhile. We fall. We begin again. Lent is about following Christ more deeply, but it’s also about starting over…and over…and over. Each time we begin again, Our Lord rejoices and re-extends the invitation, “Follow me.”
- A Banquet for the Lord: Matthew throws a great banquet for Jesus and invites many other tax collectors. Someone “leaving everything behind” might be tempted to hoard just a little bit in case the great adventure failed. But Matthew shows us how to live in the presence of the one who provides all we need. Our faith is a treasure to be shared and Matthew chooses to use his gift of hospitality to share Jesus with his friends. I am called to share the “good news” also, using the gifts and talents Jesus has given to me.
- Who Is Invited to the Banquet of the Lord?: The great banquet Matthew threw foreshadows the heavenly banquet to which all are invited. Jesus tells the Pharisees who will be invited to the banquet: sinners. Jesus says, “It is mercy I desire and not sacrifice.” He extends his mercy to those who recognize their need for salvation. Those who pretend that their righteousness comes from themselves alone will not receive the invitation. On the other hand, those who recognize that the banquet is a gift, and that they are guests, will be welcome. Jesus says, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13). Matthew can rejoice because he knows the gift he is receiving and his need for that gift.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, thank you for the invitation to your banquet, which you offer me daily, especially in prayer and the sacraments. Help me to invite others to participate in this feast.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will be attentive to how I can respond to the invitation to follow you.
For Further Reflection: Fr. Mike Schmitz on Acedia: The Noonday Devil, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AHWlZ_ptvc.
written by Jennifer Ristine