Liturgical Colour : White
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the theme of today’s readings are similar and indeed is a continuation of yesterday’s readings. If yesterday we heard about the healing of the paralytic man by Jesus, showing God’s love and mercy for sinners, that is all of us mankind, then today we heard about the calling of Levi, the tax collector who followed Jesus and would later be known as Matthew, one of the Twelve Apostles and one of the Four Evangelists or the Writers of the Four Holy Gospels.
In this we can see that no one is beyond redemption and no one is unworthy of salvation. Salvation is offered freely by the Lord to all of us, and it is ultimately in our hands and in our decision to accept or to reject the salvation offered to us. If we accept His salvation and forgiveness for our sinfulness, then we have the potential, capacity and opportunity to become great servants of God, exalted and praised. On the other hand, if we choose to reject Him, then our share is suffering and pain everlasting.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we have to reflect on our own lives, and how we have responded to the call of Christ. Yes, our Lord has called us many times and He constantly wants to remind us to distance ourselves from corruption of this world and all forms of sins, so that we will not be tainted by its corrupting nature. Mankind are all by nature prone and vulnerable to the temptation and to the pull of sin. If we do nothing, then it is likely for us to stumble and fall into the deep pit of sin.
Sin, as I have often mentioned, is the sickness and disease of the soul. Sin makes us all sick and defiled, and if we continue to live with sin, then gradually we will be drifting further and further away from God and we will eventually be lost. Sin however does not have the final say on us, as Christ would prove, by His actions and deeds, through which He sanctified the race of mankind, bringing to them a new hope of liberation from sins.
Jesus came to offer us sinners new hope, by calling us to repent and to abandon our ways of life filled with sins. He came to call sinners back to His love and to convert a people who are wicked and turn them into the creatures of love, of gentleness and care, and of harmony and peace. Thus that was why He called Levi the tax collector, to follow Him and became one of His disciples, counted among the Twelve Apostles.
We may ask, why Jesus would bother to look for sinners and the lost sheep, wicked and sinful men. Why would He bother to go all the way into the depth of the filth and quagmire that is this world, the sole purpose of which is to rescue those who have been trapped in the quagmire and bring them to safety. In fact, do you know that Jesus our Lord let Himself be trapped in that quagmire, so that all of us trapped in it can use His Body to go to our safety?
And thus it is in the same way that our Lord Jesus Christ had gone to find the lowest and the poorest of all, the greatest sinners of all, that by bearing the full brunt of all their sins, He brought about the salvation of all who repented their sins and believed in Him. Those who repented and followed the Lord just as Levi had done, shall receive the forgiveness of their sins, and the eternal grace and blessing of God.
Therefore, today we are called by God to follow the example of Levi, that is to leave behind our lives of sin and embrace the love and mercy of God, following our Lord Jesus and accepting His salvation with our whole heart. That us what we ought to do if we are to attain a new life in Him, life that is free from sin, and in which we are no longer bound to death, which is the consequence of sin.
Today we also celebrate the feast of St. Anthony the Great, also known as St. Anthony of Egypt, one of the first monks of the Faith, namely those who chose to retreat from the worldly materials and possessions, retreating into secluded places and following a life filled with prayer and total devotion to the Lord. St. Anthony of Egypt followed this lifestyle after he reflected on the meaning of the words of Jesus, particularly, ‘Follow Me!’
Thus in order to seek the kingdom of heaven and the grace of God, St. Anthony practiced his faith by retreating from the world and all of its temptations, shunning all forms of sins and worldliness. But he did not have it easy. Temptations and the demons are always tempting him and attacking him, trying to make him fail in his devotion and holy way of life in following God. Nevertheless, St. Anthony persevered and through his intense devotion, many examples and works were made which inspired countless peoples and souls to also follow God with all of their heart.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we do not have to go to the extent of what St. Anthony had done, but at least we have to follow in his footsteps, just as Levi had done before Him, abandoning the life of sin which we have, and exchange it for the life in Christ. We have to live out our faith from now on, that is we have to truly mean what we believe in and not just to let it be empty words or profession of faith without meaning.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, from now on let us commit ourselves anew to the Lord, so that in all things we say and do, we will glorify God and give witness to Him, that others who see us may also believe in Him and be saved as well. God be with us all, now and forever. Amen.
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