Dinners with Sinners

Luke 5: 27-32
Is 58: 9b-14/ Ps 86: 1-2. 3-4. 5-6

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, saying, “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 to repentance, but sinners.” (Luke 5:27-32)

Reflection

Jesus was going about and saw a tax collector, named Levi, sitting at his customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” Mesmerized, Levi left everything, and followed Jesus. Then he prepared a big party to honor the Lord in his house. He wanted the whole world to know about his newfound life, and perhaps even invite his old friends to encounter the same experience. The only fly in the ointment was the presence of the Pharisees and their scribes who murmured against his guests, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” But Jesus turned the tables on them, saying “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the ‘righteous’ (Pharisees), but sinners to repentance.”

I’ve read or heard it said once that the two most effective tools of evangelization are a fork and a pen. The fork for breaking bread with your friend 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 or Jesus eating in the company of friends or followers is a very common scene in the Gospel narratives, and is even 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 apply here too. 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 nourishment of other souls.

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

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