The tax collector in the ancient world was a much-despised character. So we can imagine that Levi (the Jewish name given to Matthew in the other gospels) was not very popular with his neighbors…especially if he demanded a few extra shekels on the side as as the extra cost of “doing business.” Imagine the local surprise not only when Jesus approached Matthew and said “Follow me,” but then at the total confusion when Levi actually got up from his customs post and walked away with Jesus, welcoming the Lord to his house and table.
Upending expectations was a common practice for Jesus. As he explains, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do…I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
Where is that “sick place” in my own life that needs Jesus’ healing touch? And how might I find some measure of patience and forgiveness this weekend as I walk with a person I know (at home, at work, or down the street) who may be struggling to find strength to turn things around? How can my quiet presence and healing words make a difference?
Isn’t this what “follow me” means in the concrete this Sept. 21, 2013?
-—The Jesuit Prayer Team