The Call of Levi is one which many who discern religious vocations (to priesthood & religious life) can relate to; but it’s important that we reflect upon it often, because we also know that Levi who is Matthew, did not only get up and follow Jesus, but he followed him to the Cross eventually as an Apostle. Although this passage is a powerful one for reflection, there are two things that often strike me about it.
First of all, would Levi have been able to follow Jesus, if the Lord Himself had not made the effort to come to him? Jesus was chastised for eating with “tax collectors and sinners”; the ‘low-life’ types. But He did choose to spend time with the ‘low-life’ types, and while it teaches us how we ought to live our lives as disciples, it’s also important to note that Jesus didn’t just come to those who weren’t deemed worthy then – He comes to this very day. Just go to some of the RCIA classes, you’re bound to find someone there that could tell you a story about how Jesus encountered him or her in the midst of the darkness of their life. That’s my own story too, so I know it well – but I know many others who acknowledge the same. And then through the Sacrament of Confession Jesus continues to come to us, freeing us from what holds us back in being the best possible disciple of Christ we can be.
Another thing that we must take away for reflection from today’s Gospel is this: Levi followed the Lord and to the Cross. Unworthiness is not a one time feeling overcome. Even though he was with the Lord, surely Levi would again and again feel a sense of unworthiness and his former life would re-present itself. While Jesus saved him from himself, if he’s anything like the rest of us (and I’m pretty sure he was) he will come to rehearse past acts and sins and regret will consume him again and again. This would be his temptation, as it is ours. Just as Satan tempted Jesus in the desert at his weakest moments (when he was starving) he gets us where we are weak; temptation for sinners often can be in their past sins. The only remedy for that is to realize the Lord released us from those sins, not so we could revel in them again, not so we could sin some more – but so we could live and commit our lives to Him! And on days we are weak, just as for Levi, we must carry on, push through it and keep our minds focused on Jesus. If we fall, as we may, as long as we have a regular practice of confession in our life then we must keep our minds and hearts on the mission. In this way, we follow the Lord as repentant and converted sinners; to do God’s will as He desires us to. May God bless you.