Saturday after Ash Wednesday
When reading the Gospel, I often make the mistake of identifying with the one Jesus encourages and praises, and seeing someone else as the one Jesus admonishes and corrects. It is a convenient strategy for glorifying my actions and rationalizing my judgment of others.
Rather than reading the Gospel with a sincere heart, I use the Gospel to support my own decisions. Instead of letting the Word of God form me, I rework the Word of God and gratify myself with my good works. However, when I am humble enough to see myself even in the least appealing Gospel characters, then the Word of God becomes an examination of conscience. I finally listen to what Christ is saying.
Jesus’ comment could be just as critical of Levi as it is of the Pharisees. Levi and his guests need healing. They are spiritually ill. The Pharisees and scribes, too, are ill. The difference between these two groups is humility. The Pharisees and scribes wonder why Jesus does not call them to follow him as disciples, or why he does not compliment them for their faithful adherence to the Law. In fact, Jesus is not concerned with their outward devotion. He is calling them to the same healing, the same contrition of heart, to which he calls all people. His rebuke of their criticism is not a dismissal. He does not intend to send them away angry. He calls them to recognize their spiritual illness and to return to God in humility. Unlike Levi, they are too proud to admit that they fail to live up to God’s expectations.
Depending on where we are in our conversion, we may assume that Jesus is either calling us to follow Him as a disciple or calling us to healing. This “either/or” mentality creates a false disparity. We all are called to healing…and we all are called to discipleship. One does not necessarily precede or overshadow the other.
Until we enter the Glory of Heaven, we continually have sin or some other weakness in our lives needing God’s healing. No matter how far we travel with the Cross on our shoulders, we are always Jesus’ disciples. We should not think there is a time when we will not need to follow Christ’s examples or not need to ask for God’s healing.
Let us deepen our call to discipleship this Lent. But let us not lose sight of our own weaknesses. Every time we enter the Scriptures, it should be a time with the Divine Physician. Let Him show us were we can grow, and let us accept the grace of His continual healing.