Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him.
When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation
We can just imagine the public outcry when Jesus invited Levi to “follow me.” Doesn’t Jesus realize that this man is a vile tax collector? That Levi has in some way “sold his soul”? And then Jesus explains that his mission is aimed precisely at this kind of person…folks just like us! Jesus’ explanation hits home: “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.”
Pope Francis echoes Jesus’ words in his own teachings on mercy. As we begin this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis explains: “This is what God’s mercy is like: a great light filled with love and tenderness because God forgives not with a decree but with a caress.”
Today—just this weekend—can each of us be ready to receive God’s “gentle caress”…and then to share that “caress” with others?
—The Jesuit prayer team
Holy God, help me to share your love and tenderness with those I live with, those I share life with,
even those I find hard to accept. May I be your ambassador of mercy this weekend. Amen!