Saturday after Ash Wednesday
IS 58:9B-14/LK 5:27-32
Luke's Gospel today portrays Levi's calling. If you have seen Caravaggio's painting of this passage you can picture that moment. Jesus points at Levi, and Levi looks down, responding with a gesture as if to say "me"? The only words we hear from Jesus are "follow me.” Levi leaves everything behind, gets up and follows Jesus. How intense the gaze of Jesus must have been that Levi, the tax collector, would promptly stand up and follow him without a question.
We are also called to experience this gaze of Jesus, who in looking at us loves us and calls us to follow him more intentionally. We too, like Levi, are called to respond promptly and decisively to that call and movement of the Spirit. St. John Henry Newman, in one of his sermons, talks about the role of positive feelings in our lives, important moments of inspiration that come to us as a guide to move towards action, to a deeper and consistent life of faith and obedience.
These can be understood as internal invitations – the desire to pray, to do good deeds, the contentment in doing God’s will—they are an impulse of the Spirit, and as an impulse they can launch us to action. Newman warns us of the importance of listening to this calling and responding promptly because these feelings typically do not last, they go away. Neglecting to turn this invitation into principles of action is to lose, in Newman’s words, a “precious opportunity.” In the same way, the gospel today calls us to respond to Jesus’ calling. The inner impulse of the Spirit requires of us a prompt response, like that of Levi’s.
This Lent, let us pray with today’s psalm, “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I may walk in your truth” and in so doing, may we have the grace to promptly respond to God’s call in us. Our prompt response will renew our strength for us to be “like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.”
Director, Office for Spirituality