A little girl was sitting with her grandmother on a bench. She said to her: “grandma, I would like to be taller than you.” Her grandmother replied: “Yes, one day, you will be taller than me.” The girl reacted: “No, I would like to be taller than you right now. If you stay sitting there and I stand up, I would be taller than you!”
To become a new person
In today’s Gospel, it is a question of becoming another person while standing up. When Jesus passed by, Levi was still sitting. To answer Jesus’ call, Levi stood up. This gesture shows us a profound transformation in Levi. To follow Jesus, he must first of all get up. To get up is to set aside the past. To get up is to change the present. To get up is to turn one’s eyes toward the future. Levi got up from his customs post as Jesus got up from death. In both cases, Luke used the same verb for “get up” in the Greek text (Cf. 24:46). Jesus was raised from death to enter a new relationship with his Father and with everyone. Levi was raised from his usual work to be involved in a new relationship with those around him.
To celebrate a new relationship
This new relationship deserved to be celebrated. Levi stood up to follow Jesus. And then Jesus followed his new disciple into his house. This house became a place of feasting for people whoever they were. Luke even specified that it was a sumptuous banquet. This great reception reminds us of the one that the rich man offered to his friends (16:19). But there, not everyone was invited. Poor Lazarus was indeed excluded from the feast. But here, the table was set for “a large crowd of tax collectors and others.” Whoever sat at table with Jesus became his friend. And so, through Jesus, people became friends of one another.
To have a new understanding
Excluding themselves from the circle of Levi’s friends, the Pharisees and the scribes rebuked Jesus by talking to his disciples. When Jesus overheard their complaint, he explained to them directly: “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners” (5:31-32). In his explanation, Jesus specified not only the reason for his visiting Levi’s house, but also the purpose of his mission on earth. He came to save humanity from its sinful condition. He came to help sinners to stand up from their corrupted nature.
Are we ready to get up from what binds us in relationships, in our feeling of exclusion, of inferiority, and even of shame? Are we ready to share the joy of being at table with Jesus and his friends? The table is set for all of us. Let’s celebrate the joy of being Jesus’ friends one with another. Jesus is present among us to gather us into his family, into his friendship. From his divine condition, he bends down in order to lift us up to God.
Prayer: Almighty God, come and raise us up so that we can share your friendship.
Resolution: Make an extra effort to include the excluded within my circle of friends.