17 February
Lk 5:27-32

Jesus 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."

“The Word leaped down from heaven into the womb of the Virgin, he leaped from his mother’s womb onto the wood [of the cross], and he leaped from the wood of the cross into the underworld, Sheol,” wrote Hippolytus of Rome (+ ca 235).  It would be strange if the Word became flesh, but stopped short of mingling with the common people, all of us, “the great unwashed.”  Jesus mixed with “the worst elements” in society. (What a disdainful expression! Have you ever been called an ‘element’?).  There was not just one tax collector but “many”. 

It was inevitable that the Pharisees would arrive on the scene.  They needed those tax collectors.  The name ‘Pharisee’ means ‘Separated’: their special righteousness separated them from the common people.  Naturally they needed those others to be different: otherwise they themselves could not be ‘Separated’.  It was essential for the Pharisees that there should be lots of tax collectors and sinners; it is essential for some ‘good’ people that there should be great numbers of ‘bad’ people.  But how disconcerting it always is to find Jesus among the bad!


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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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