A Tax collector called to follow Jesus

The WORD in Other Words by Fr John Seland SVD (Japan)

Saturday After Ash Wednesday Lent 
Isaiah 58,9-14
Luke 5,27-32

Luke writes that Jesus “went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs house.” This is no information about what transpired between that “look” of Jesus and Jesus: invitation, “Follow me,” but let us try to imagine some possibilities.  

The Jewish people hated the Romans for making them pay taxes and saw tax collectors as traitors. We can imagine the frowns, glares and dirty looks they made to Matthew as he collected their hard-earned money.  

When Jesus saw Matthew doing his job, giving no indication of resentment or anger when the people showed him animosity, Jesus was deeply impressed. It may  have been precisely then when he thought he wanted this man to be one of his disciples.   

Perhaps Matthew saw Jesus looking intently at him. Then it was Matthew‘s turn to reflect: This man understands. He knows of my shame about taking money from these people who have worked hard for it.   

Then Jesus came closer and Matthew remembered what he had heard about him. He had cured some people from their sickness; he was a very good speaker who knew the Scriptures inside and out.  

“What? You want me to become one of your disciples? Ah, but, sit, I, I don‘t  know what to say, I mean, I‘m really not worthy. But, yes, yes. I will follow you. Whatever you want me to do, I will do. Thank you! I will do my best.”   

Then he gave a party, a kind of farewell party from what was left of the money   after giving some to the poor in his village. He gave up everything, but it didn‘t matter. Now he had everything, more than anything he would ever need, more than anything his heart would ever desire.



Book by Logos Publications Manila


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