Scripture: Lectionary 223. 3/12. Isaiah 58:9-14. Psalm 86:1-2,3-4.5-6. Luke
The four days before the First Sunday in Lent are a call to prepare for the
entire season of Lent. Today we even have an explicit example of the call
of Levi (Matthew?) the tax collector. Jesus invites all of us to follow
him up the road to Jerusalem. This is the last few weeks of Jesus life
that are being presented to us in many of the narratives from the Gospels.
Almost every call narrative is conncected with the theme of following him
through his sufferings and death on the Cross. The Gospels have their own
way of showing us the Way of the Cross. Mark and Matthew are rather similar
in the content of this journey with Jesus.
Isaiah speaks God’s words. Just by listening to them we easily realize
these are demanding and definitely inspirational coming from the Holy
Spirit. By taking what Isaiah says we learn how to follow Jesus more
closely. The reading is similar to what we know in the Catholic tradition
as the corporal works of mercy: feeding the hungry, sheltering the
homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and
burying the dead.(See Catechism of the Catholic Church p.588 # 2447).
Isaiah emphasizes the need for each one of us to take the time to rest on
the Sabbath (Sunday) and to experience the gift of leisure time with God.
Rather than think of catching up on little daily duties, this day offers us
an opportunity to truly rest within ourselves with God.We need this time
with God and with ourselves. It is not only a Lenten practice; it is very
healthy for us who are so busy during the week. We are to love ourselves
as God loves us and to love our neighbor as God would have us love them.
Sometimes loving them as we love ourselves does not do it because we
neglect our own self-love.
The call theme is explicit in the attractive call of Jesus to a tax
collector named Levi–who may be the same person known as Matthew. He
leaves his daily work and immediately follows Jesus. He does get Jesus to
listen to an invitation at his home to come and dine and party. He knew
the meaning of leisure with the Lord and Jesus responds to Levi’s call;
others like himself join in the dinner. Jesus is very pleased and uses the
occasion for telling us,”I have come not to invite the righteous to a
change of heart (eis ton metanoiein)might be but sinners.” (Luke 5:32).
This Greek expression “to have a change of heart” means to think over and
to gain insight into one’s life and change what needs to be changed. For
sinners, changing one’s mind or rethinking involves repenting or changing
one’s life; for religious people not conscious of sin the demand of
metanoien might be better translated literally as a change of mind,
attitude, or motivation. If one reflects on the opposition encountered by
Jesus’ demand, the Gospels record little rejection of him by sinners, but
quite the opposite from those who considered themselves right