Daily Reflection
January 19th, 2002
Tom Shanahan, S.J.
University Relations and the Theology Department
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1 Samuel 9:1-4, 17-19; 10:1
Psalm 21:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
Mark 2:13-17

“I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”  The last words of the Gospel reading for today are a wonderfully consoling piece of news.  In all our struggle for perfection, doing the “right thing,” working hard to please God, and in general focusing way too much on ourselves and our efforts, the simple words from Mark’s gospel puts it all in perspective.  I am a sinner; God loves me and continues to call me into life, and that’s the simple and most beautiful truth of it all!  But how easy it is to end up on the side of the “righteous” and then not really be able to hear the call!  Now that’s a shame.

How incredibly attractive Jesus must have been in calling disciples to him.  In the passage today Jesus simply says to Levi the Son of Alpheus, “Follow me” and Levi leaves the tax-collecting desk and follows Jesus.  Let’s not forget that the tax collectors were in many ways the “lowest of the low”.  They represented the foreign power of Rome as well as the general tendency to skim off the top of their collections and thus they were not easy to like.

But Jesus goes to Levi as he had gone to Peter and James and John to offer them discipleship.  Were these men “righteous?”  Certainly not of their own accord.  However, they were afforded the opportunity of great growth by following in the footsteps of Jesus.  How well did they do this?   Knowing the rest of the story, we know that they finally understood the call only after Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Till then they remained slow and plodding in their discipleship.

How about us?  The truth is that what makes us at all good is not our attempts at goodness and righteousness, but the very fact that we have been called into discipleship ourselves by our Baptism.  The strength for living out the splendid implications of that Baptism comes from the Lord who calls us not just once, on a day-by-day basis.  Now that is a gift.

Jesus, show me how to be tuned in to your call as it comes to me each day.  Help me to grow in the Spirit by responding to the call.  Bless all of us with the realization of your presence in our lives and how to keep responding to your call to us as your disciples.  Thank you for the call.

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