Dining 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, “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

Levi 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, “I have not come to call the ‘righteous’ (Pharisees), but sinners to repentance.”

I’ve 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 also. 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. It is particularly more special for my wife and me, because we have been privileged today to give witness in our brother chapter’s breakfast (BCBP East Davao) and share how Jesus came into our lives and told us to “Come, follow me.”

How true another adage that says, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Aside from the privilege of inviting a friend to the BCBP breakfast today, (I hope he comes) I thank the Holy Spirit for His inspiration and guidance, for having penned another Gospel reflection for the nourishment of other souls.

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 in our lives. Amen.

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