Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard in the Gospel, about the calling of Levi the tax collector by Jesus. Levi was called, and he heeded the call. He became one of the Twelve Apostles, and later was known as St. Matthew the Apostle, one of the Four Evangelists, the writer of the Four Holy Gospels.
Levi showed us that the Lord did not condemn sinners but sin. He did not condemn His own people when they made the mistake, if they do not persist in their sinfulness and in their erroneous ways. He will come to them, seeking them, and calling them to repent from their ways, and to turn back towards the Lord as He had done to Levi.
And another lesson that we ought to learn is that we have hope, brethren! In Jesus we have hope, because He had come to seek those who had been lost to the darkness. We who have wandered into the darkness Christ will bring once again into the light. And if we follow Him, we will surely receive the reward which He had promised to be ours.
Brothers and sisters, it is also important to note that we must never condemn anyone, nor should we have any prejudice or be judgmental upon others. If we do so, then we are doing precisely what the Pharisees and the elders of the Jews had done. They looked down on the tax collectors and the other people whom they called and considered as ‘sinners’.
Yes, they considered themselves pious, obedient and righteous, because they have followed strictly the rigorous requirements of the Mosaic law, whom they over the generations as the leaders of the people had expanded, and which they, in their arrogance and hubris, thought of themselves as better than those who had not done what they did.
Yet they forget that they themselves had flaw in them. Yes, sinners themselves! Everyone who was descended from Adam and Eve the first mankind had sinned, and we are all sinners. Yet it was Jesus our Lord who came to us in order to deliver us from the consequence of sin that is death. Jesus came to bring new hope and light to those who had been trapped in the darkness of sin.
The Pharisees had no right to label and condemn the tax collectors as sinners because they themselves were sinners and were in need of salvation themselves. Yet again you can contrast how the supposed ‘sinners’, the tax collectors reacted to Jesus as compared to the ‘pious’ Pharisees and the elders. The tax collectors welcomed Jesus and Levi followed Him, leaving everything he had. Meanwhile, the Pharisees rejected Jesus and fought against Him and plotted against Him wherever He went to.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, from this example, are we able now to understand what it means to be a disciple of the Lord? Are we all now aware of the love our Lord has for all of us. Shall we repent and change our ways, professing our faith and love for Him?
Today we celebrate the feast day of St. John of God, a Portuguese priest and holy man of the faith. St. John of God was known to be a great worker of mercy and compassion especially those who were suffering in poverty and sickness. St. John of God established an order of brethren dedicated to the service of the stricken and the downtrodden.
But in all of his great accomplishment and great holiness, we may often forget that St. John of God was once an orphan and someone who did not have a clear purpose in life. And yet St. John of God met a life changing experience in his life, not quite unlike what had happened to Levi, who was called from the darkness into the light. Like Levi, St. John of God was called because the Lord had clear intention in mind for him.
Can we also be like St. John of God? Of course we can! It is up to us now, whether we are to take up the Lord’s offer and heed His call. We can choose to be either like the Pharisees or to be like Levi. We can choose between accepting the Lord’s call or refusing to acknowledge Him when He calls. It is entirely within our choice, brothers and sisters in Christ.
Therefore, let us make our choice now, to dedicate ourselves to the Lord from now on, and become His tool for change, for the betterment of ourselves and for the sake of our fellow brothers and sisters. May the Lord continue to love us, bless us, and strengthen us in our faith. God bless us all. Amen.