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.”
Yesterday afternoon I went out to bless the two houses that our construction team helped to build along with some local laborers. The two families were so grateful to all who helped to construct their new homes. It was very moving for me to see the emotion of these families as they take possession of their new homes.
Then in the evening we had a going-away party at the governor’s building. It was a wonderful evening of music, dancing, talks and sharing. There is teamwork between the Borongan government, the Diocese of Borongan and the Diocese of Joliet to make this mission work.
This morning we said goodbye to the Oikos Sisters and their family at the hotel. We drove four hours from Borongan to the airport in Tacloban. It is a challenging drive because there are not many straight roads between the two towns. Fortunately they tell me the roads have improved immensely in recent years due to an upcoming election and to rebuild infrastructure after the typhoon.
Our flight was delayed four hours so we arrived in Manila late. We will have time to rest a little, take a shower and head back to the airport to fly to Hong Kong and then to Chicago. All in all, we have about 18 hours of flying left and about 4 hours of waiting. But the travel has been so worth it because of the relationships that were formed in Borongan. The success of any mission like this depends on the local team and we are blessed to have the Sisters and wonderful volunteers. We arrive in Chicago around 2pm on Saturday afternoon. The temperature difference will be shocking.
Regarding this Gospel passage today, one of my favorite paintings depicts this call of Matthew by Caravaggio. Tax collectors were despised by society because they often cheated their own people. And yet Jesus still chose Levi, who would become known as Matthew. In the painting, Matthew is shocked by Jesus’ call. But he left everything behind to follow Jesus.
In appreciation for this great call, Matthew threw a banquet full of notorious sinners and invited Jesus. All the righteous could not believe Jesus was eating and drinking with such sinners. And Jesus proclaimed His mission. He did not come for the healthy, but for the sick, the sinners, the broken, etc.
This should give us great hope. And this is why need the Church and why we go to church. We are sinners in need of a savior. And that is why God became man. He suffered and died to destroy our death. And He rose to give us new life, inviting us to place our faith in Him. We do not deserve this type of love, but it is a gift freely given to us, sinners though we are.
How do you respond to this type of love?
Have you heard Jesus’ call to follow Him?
Do you allow Jesus’ grace to fill your areas of brokenness?
Have a blessed day!