Daily Reflection
January 15th, 2000
John Fitzgibbons, S.J.
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1 Samuel 9:1-4, 17-19; 10:1
Psalms 21:2-7
Mark 2:13-17

The call of Levi the tax collector, like the call of Saul the king of Israel, raises an important question:  Does the quality of one's life qualify or disqualify a person for God's call?

There is no easy answer to this question because on the one hand, the spiritual life (one's state of soul) cannot be known completely by another person.  It is best known by the individual and God...but even the individual human being is often conflicted and confused about the quality of her or his interiority.  On the other hand, what shall we say about moral monsters who actively seek to destroy other persons by murder, mendacity, atrocity, emotional blackmail or physical abuse, in short, making a fetish of power?  Such stories of abuse make up much of the sad history of so many kings and functionaries of the state who claim, "I was just doing my job" and "I was only following orders."  Human beings are such complicated unities that our lives cannot be reduced to mere human judgment.  Still, we know evil when we experience it.  Saul was called through the prophet Samuel to lead Israel.  Yet, Saul was mightily conflicted with zealous love and murderous hate.  He was anointed as God's chosen king but when the kingship was taken from him, he tried to kill David, his successor, one who was like a son to him.

Even more to the point, Levi the tax collector, reviled by his own people for his well-known dishonesty and traitorous allegiance to Rome, is called by Jesus.  Jesus, the prophet, the holy man, the Messiah, favors the most hated man in the community. 

What can we make of all this? What kind of God enters into such lives?  While the healing stories in the gospel accounts dazzle us, the stories of forgiveness and call are just as resplendent and may, perhaps, touch us more deeply because we know our own conflicted souls.  The forgiveness of God as we see it in Jesus quickens the dead or dying heart.  Such is the gracious love of God for each of us.

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