Dining with Sinners

Luke 5: 27-32
Isa 58:9b-14 / Psa 86

It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
(Luke 5:32)

May you hear His call for you today,
That you may dine in God’s kingdom;
Like Levi when he heard Him say,
“Come”, and found life’s true freedom.

After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed Him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to His disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:27-32)

Reflection

Chapter five of Luke’s Gospel begins with Jesus calling His first apostles, Simon, Andrew, James and John who were fishermen, and they left their trade and followed Him. Then Jesus began to heal the afflicted, starting with the leper, and then the paralytic. After this, He called Levi, the tax collector. Fishermen in those days were treated with respect because they provided food for the populace. Not so the tax collectors (even to this day). They were worse than lepers and paralytics. But our Lord showed all that He regarded everyone with equal treatment. He came to save all men, and we, His followers must follow His example.

It has been said once that the two most effective tools in ‘winning the marketplace’ for Christ are a fork and a pen. The fork for breaking bread with people whom you would like to meet Jesus, and the pen (or email or SMS) for writing and spreading God’s Word. The image of a banquet with Jesus eating in the company of friends or followers is a very common scene in the Gospel narratives, and dining is often used by our Lord in many of His parables. An old saw, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” can probably also apply here. In fact, throughout the generations of man, in almost all cultures, issues are resolved, contracts are signed, partnerships are sealed, and many are converted on the dining table. It is no coincidence that the Holy Mass is about a supper. Our Lord certainly enjoyed being invited to all of those banquets.

Today (every Saturday) is a special day for every BCBP member, because it is the day when our brotherhood gets together for a fellowship breakfast. It is always a special breakfast for us, because it is the entry point for our guests to become acquainted with the BCBP, and hopefully encounter a more intimate fellowship with our Lord. We invite businessmen or professionals, doctors or tax collectors, and in many cases (like St. Matthew) the unlikeliest of guests turn out to be the committed evangelists. During the breakfast fellowship, we hear a brother, sister or couple share how Jesus came into their lives and told them to “Come, follow me.

How true another adage that says, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” I may not have been able to invite a guest to our BCBP breakfast today, but with the Holy Spirit’s inspiration and guidance, I thank God for the opportunity of having penned another Gospel reflection for the benefit of others who may also come to know about our Lord Jesus.

Lord Jesus, make us ambassadors of your selfless love by inviting those whose hearts are still hungry to Your dining table. Fill them with your Divine Presence, Lord, and nourish them with Your Word, as You have done for us that has changed our lives. Amen.

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