Reading: Luke 5:27-32
Reflection: The call of Levi offers a challenging contrast between a religious life without grace and a spiritual life full of grace. Who knows what drove Levi to become a tax collector, but it could not have been an easy choice for him. Tax collectors were considered traitors to their people, since they essentially worked for the Roman Empire which occupied Israel. Also, they were free to set their own rates to generate an income for themselves after Rome had received what was required. This meant that many tax collectors got rich by fleecing their countrymen.
What kind of early rejection, hurt, or trauma would lead an Israelite to choose a job that would bring such hatred and exclusion from his peers? When Jesus called Levi, it could perhaps have been the first time in a very long time that anyone had actually seen him as a human being. Certainly, Levi did not seem to hesitate to respond to Jesus’ offer of grace and belonging. Furthermore, once Levi had experienced the grace of Jesus, he was desperate to share it, and so he threw a party for all his friends – who were likewise outcasts in that society.
This is what grace can do. Unfortunately, the religious leaders did not share Jesus’ gracious attitude, referring to Levi and his friends as “scum.” If we are called to be channels of God’s grace to the world, then we would do well to follow Jesus, saying no to the self-righteousness and exclusion of the religious leaders, and yes to welcoming the Levi’s of the world into God’s family. Who needs you to welcome them the way Jesus welcomed Levi?
Practice for Today: When we greet each other in church, this is not just a time to say hello. It is meant to be a moment of affirming that God has called us to be a welcoming, gracious community in which all people can find belonging. Sometimes just taking the time to greet someone, with the dignity of looking them in the eye, can be a healing and life-changing experience. Today, try and greet everyone you encounter.
Prayer for Today: As you have welcomed me into your grace and love, O God, may I welcome others in your name.
Communion with Christ