Scripture: Lectionary 223. Feb. 16. Isaiah 58:9-14. Psalm 86:1-2.3-4.5-6. Luke 5:27-32:
Luke gives us the call of Levi (probably St.Matthew, the tax-collector). He immediately leaves everything and follows Jesus. There is a Lenten lesson in this complete turn-around in Levi’s life. Jesus consoles us with this great example of someone who was considered a sinner who now leaves everything behind to follow the Lord. Jesus says to all of us, “I have not come for the righteous, but for sinners.”
We are called to have a change of heart, a turn-around, and an attitudinal change (a metanoia). On Ash Wednesday we received ashes as the celebrant said, “Repent, and believe the Gospel.” The words are similar to what Jesus is saying to his opponents about Levi—he has repented, he has made a turning point in his life, and has come to follow me. We are inspired by the event and want to respond to Jesus with our own Yes and make a turn-about in our lives during this sacred season we call Lent. Jesus always takes the initiative in inviting us to follow him and become his disciple.
If Levi is the same person as Matthew then we have someone who becomes a great inspired writer of a Gospel that maps out some of the greatest sermons of Jesus. He begins with the Sermon on the Mount—a reading that we should keep close by during Lent. It gives us the blueprint for a disciple who follows Jesus all the way. It starts with the eight beatitudes and continues on with lessons about fasting, prayer, and generous giving of ourselves (almsgiving). Matthew became an Evangelist and a leader in a church that was divided against itself. His Gospel leads the people to see themselves as a renewed Israel. Matthew is the thinker among the evangelists and has a very organized, clear, and comprehensive gospel for us believers. It was the favorite gospel for Sundays for many centuries.
St. Dominic, the great teacher of Thomas Aquinas, is said to have memorized the whole Gospel of Matthew and would recite it on his travels. We are encouraged to take a look at the Sermon on the Mount for a good outline for our faith formation during this season of Lent and this year of faith. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.