Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
January 15th, 2011

Joan Blandin Howard

Christian Spirituality Program
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
[310] Hebrews 4:12-16
Psalm 19:8, 9 10, 15
Mark 2:13-17

“For those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.  I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

If you have a broken leg, see a physician.  If you have malaria, see a physician.  If you are bilious, see a physician.  But, if you are heavy of heart, come to Me.  If you are weary of the struggle, come to Me.  If you long for peace and justice, come to Me.  If you are marginalized, ostracized, and long to be welcomed, come to Me. Should your faith falter, come to Me.

Earlier in chapter two of Mark, Jesus says to the paralytic man “Son, your sins are forgiven,… stand up and take your mat and walk”.  In today’s reading Jesus says to Levi who is “sitting at the tax booth”.  “Follow me.”   Yes, Jesus physically cured the paralytic man, but his focus was on the man’s faith, not on his disease.  In each case there is a directive: “stand up” and “follow me.”  These phrases are invitational as well.  Possibly not readily apparent they are also an anointing of strength to an outsider.  Jesus sees into the heart, acknowledges, invites, and welcomes the person, and even eats with the unacceptable.

In Levi’s case just the fact that he is “sitting” as Jesus walks by suggests that he does not feel he is one of the group; that he would be accepted and welcomed by the group. 

Prayerfully in contemplation, I might imagine that Levi has often sat by the way as Jesus walked by.  I prayerfully imagine their eyes meeting. I might further imagine that Levi felt a deep connection with Jesus even though ostracized by his followers.  Yet, it is Levi whom Jesus calls forward inviting Levi into his intimate presence. Levi is welcomed by Jesus in spite of what his followers would consider appropriate. 

Jesus’ followers think they know Jesus, but they have missed the essential quality of being a true follower.  No matter how many times and in how many different ways, Jesus’ message is to love one another, to act lovingly toward one another.  As an anointed follower of Jesus I am anointed to invite and welcome the stranger, the lonely, and the one who seems different and in some way unacceptable.  I am not commissioned to judge, ostracize or disparage the other.  Jesus’ life, death and resurrection make us one body. The body of Christ.

The good news in today’s reading is that although not all of us are called to be compassionate medical healers, we are all called, baptized and anointed into Christ’s compassionate healing. 

True love is possible
Only with understanding.
When there is understanding,
Compassion is born.
Thich Nhat Hanh

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