… “It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. I came to call not the upright, but sinners.” Mark 2:17
By his very name, Levi was supposed to be counted among the very righteous. The Levites were the tribe where the priest were called and chosen from. Even if he weren’t from that tribe, his parents were hopeful that their son would live to the highest standards of their faith and culture.
Alas, Levi was a tax collector. In a cultural/political sense, he was a traitor to his people because he collected revenue enforced by the occupying Roman Empire. By association, he was a wicked man because the temptation to exploit others for personal gain was always at hand. Pious Jews had nothing to do with tax collectors. These outcast could only attract others like them as friends.
One pious man walked past Levi’s office and invited him into his company. The great favor was met with a meal at Levi’s home and among his kind. To the Pharisees, doing something as communal and fraternal as sharing a meal with sinners and tax collectors was an insult to their sense of nationalism and righteous behavior.
The reply Jesus gave should serve as a pattern and warning for us. He came for the sick and sinners. We must never consider ourselves to be so perfectly well and righteous that we can look down on and reject the humanity of others. When we get to a point of self-righteousness, we say in our hearts that we don’t need Jesus. When we admit that we have not lived up to perfect moral standards, are constantly surrounded by temptations, live among those who are in the same boat we are in; when we admit we are sick, Jesus will come by our door and call us to follow him. We then must invite him into our lives, share him with others like us, and go where he leads us.
Yours in Christ
Brother Cyprian Bluemood
Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene