Lenten Gospel Reflection Saturday, February 20th, 2021 — Luke 5:27-32
Back in the Jesus’ day, Israel and Judaea were occupied by Roman conquerors. The government was under control of Roman installed officials.
The Jewish people despised their occupiers, and anyone, especially other Jews who worked for them. Tax collectors were especially hated because they virtually had a license to steal.
In their duties of collecting taxes, many were notorious for taking more than was their due. You see, with the backing of the local governor, and enforced by the Roman military, whatever they collected above the amount due to the government was theirs to keep. Many were known to have become quite wealthy by skimming their unfair share. No wonder Tax Collectors were despised as great sinners.
This is who Levi was — a notorious Tax collector, a collaborator with the enemy. Jesus earned the ire of the Scribes and Pharisees for such an association. In those days it was considered a serious breach of the Pharisaic laws of ritual purity to associate with anyone who wasn’t ritually clean, such as Gentiles (any non Jew), and sinners in general.
One theme that keeps repeating over the past weeks is that Jesus wasn’t acting against the Laws of Moses, but man-made spiritual laws. Are there man-made spiritual laws being enforced in your Church?
You see, God isn’t interested in worship or piety that is forced. That’s why we’ve been given this thing called “free will.”
Each and everyone of us MUST make a choice as where our allegiance resides. Will we follow Jesus, the Messiah, or not. Will you joyfully worship Him in Spirit and Truth, or follow your own prideful inclinations.
The Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus day made their decision. They were so blinded by their lusts for power and control that they didn’t recognize that their Messiah was in their midst. They didn’t understand that Jesus came in particular for the sinners — you and me, as well as the children of Israel. (Luke 19:10)
What will you do with Jesus this Lent? Will you seek Him while he still may be found? Will you call to Him while he is still near? In relying on their worldly wisdom the religious leaders of that day missed out.
Remember, if you hear God’s voice, harden not your heart!
Lord, hear the heartfelt prayers of this sinner, struggling to do the right thing. Lord, Jesus, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner. Lord, each and everyone of us has sinned an fallen short of your Holy Ideals. Guide us, Like Levi to abandon our sinful ways and follow you. Help us to realize that our free will isn’t a license to steal, or act contrary to your will. AMEN
GOSPEL — Luke 5:27-32
Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him. Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”