09 March 2019: When did Levi decide to follow Jesus?

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Reading 1: Isaiah 58:9-14; Gospel:  Luke 5:27-32

And leaving everything he got up and followed him

If I were Levi, I wonder if I would have followed Jesus so promptly? It took me several years of formation and discernment before I decided to take my religious vows! The Gospels have the bad habit of summarising real events to just one sentence and making them appear deceptively simple! Probably Levi took his time and Jesus may have talked with him over a period of time.

May be Levi was waiting to be called, deep down in his heart! All of us are waiting to be called in some way! It is Grace asleep in us. When a sudden trigger occurs, voilà, we are caught. We realize that the inner longing had been there all along, even without knowing it or even wanting it! It is as if Grace passes by and suddenly grabs you by your hair and lifts you up! You get frightened and try to escape. But you can’t. Slowly you realize that you had been waiting for this all the while. Strange are the workings of Grace!

Another curiosity of the Gospel of today is that Levi, “leaving everything” followed him! Jesus did not demand, “dump everything and come after me”. Levi felt naturally that other things had no more relevance, once he realised the beauty of his calling. Following Jesus cannot be one of our many activities. It is totalizing. The call takes over. Grace overrides everything else. It is only the “leaving everything else” that proves that we have understood the nature of the call itself, and its beauty! This is important to understand in a world where many of us are tempted to hold on to everything and yet follow Jesus!

Levi is the only apostle to throw a party for Jesus! Was that to say bye to his family, to celebrate his ordination or to honour the Master? It could have even been to test Jesus, curiously! He probably wanted to see how Jesus would relate with the outcasts of that society; he was one of them. And he saw that Jesus freely identified himself with them and ate with them, even in the face of criticism and ridicule. It was then that he finally decided that Jesus would be his master!

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