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THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for Saturday after Ash Wednesday, February 21st, 2015

Liturgical texts here

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IF you really stop to think about it, to really absorb what just happened in today’s Gospel, it should revolutionize your life.

Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” (Today’s Gospel)

Tax collectors in Christ’s time were notorious for being scumbags, so much so, that it was a great scandal that Jesus should spend even a moment with them.

“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” (Today’s Gospel)

And yet, we Christians often fail to trust in God’s love for us. We say, “I should know better… I’ve been to confession so many times over this sin… God is tired of me, disappointed and angry.” And before we know it, the fire of Divine Love is reduced to smoldering embers, not because God put the flame out, but our lack of faith has!

Dear brothers and sisters, Baptism is only the beginning. You may be saved, but most of us have yet to be completely sanctified. That is, we are still sinners, and as such, we qualify for the Divine Physician.

The sinner who feels within himself a total deprivation of all that is holy, pure, and solemn because of sin, the sinner who in his own eyes is in utter darkness, severed from the hope of salvation, from the light of life, and from the communion of saints, is himself the friend whom Jesus invited to dinner, the one who was asked to come out from behind the hedges, the one asked to be a partner in His wedding and an heir to God… Whoever is poor, hungry, sinful, fallen or ignorant is the guest of Christ. —Matthew the Poor, The Communion of Love

If Jesus chose Levi—that is, the unbaptized, sinful, unenlightened ones to be His first companions, how much more does Jesus consider you who have received the Holy Spirit to be His beloved? And you are. You see, the problem is that we simply cannot believe that God can be this good.

My child, all your sins have not wounded My Heart as painfully as your present lack of trust does that after so many efforts of My love and mercy, you should still doubt My goodness. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1486

But so long as we remain in this subtle state of doubt, if not despair, we will remain infant Christians—lights hidden beneath bushel baskets, tasteless salt, dry wells. The difference between us and Levi is not our sinfulness, but whether or not we will get out of the chair of doubt and follow Christ as he did. Levi went on, in fact, to throw a “great banquet” for Jesus. But so many of us throw a pity party instead! So you are sinner? How about that! You are proof that Jesus died for a reason after all. Then let your sin be a cause for greater humility, for greater trust, for greater prayer—and above all, greater praise by thanking God that He still loves you. Yes, He will always love you, even if you commit the worst sin in the world. Why? Because you are His child. And because you are His child, He wants to do everything to deliver you from your sin. And sometimes, that means having to help you get up, over and over again, out of the dust of weakness.

God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. —POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 3

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you. (Today’s Psalm)

In truth, most of us never get beyond first base in the spiritual life, which is letting God love us. Second base is loving Him back. And third base is loving our neighbour, as beautifully described in the first reading. But how can you love your neighbour if you don’t love yourself? And you will only be able to love yourself when you see and accept how God loves you.

Today, Love Incarnate is looking straight into your eyes, and He repeats again, “Follow me.”

Get up Christian. You are loved. Now go tell the rest of the world. 

 

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