Isaiah 58: 9-14
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.
If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
from pursuing your own interests on my holy day;
if you call the sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs;
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Psalm 86: 1-6
Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am devoted to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all day long.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
listen to my cry of supplication.
After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up, left everything, and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
In the gospel today, Jesus comes to Levi, or Matthew, tells him to follow him, and Levi immediately gets, leaves everything, and follows Jesus. His life is completely changed. Two simple words and he abandons his whole life to pursue a path he cannot see or discern yet. Even though he does not know what lies ahead with this man who called him, Levi’s initial obedience prospers right away. As soon as he begins following Jesus, his friends and colleagues meet Jesus and begin socializing with him too. The life Jesus has in store for this disciple is not an easy one. He calls him to a walk where he will face uncertainty, lose his financial comfort, see Jesus taken to prison to go to the cross, and ultimately be killed himself on behalf of Jesus. Matthew’s reward, though, is very great. He follows Jesus closely throughout His ministry and sees first hand his miracles and teachings. He receives insight from the Holy Spirit to write the gospel of Jesus Christ and joins Jesus in His glory in heaven.
Throughout Lent, Jesus calls us to make the same drastic changes to our lives as he asked Levi. He calls us to abandon our former lives and follow him. He expects nothing less than what he asked of his disciples. He calls us to change our lives, completely sometimes, and follow him into a life of fellowship and death and life with him.
This Lenten Season, how is God calling you to change your life and draw closer to him? He may be asking you to make dramatic changes in your life to follow him. He may also be asking you to change small patterns or habits that will lead to greater reliance and trust in him. Be open to how God is calling you this Lent and ask for the grace to respond to his call.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for this season of repentance and change. I ask that you transform my heart and life so that I may always respond to your calls to follow you more closely. Help me to trust you completely even when I cannot see or understand the path you lay for me. Amen.