Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him. Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying, “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.” Luke 5: 27-32
ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS
Here St. John of the Cross speaks of another sinner who lets go of her sinful ways, Mary Magdalene.
“Mary Magdalene, in spite of her past, paid no heed to the crowds of people, prominent as well as unknown, at the banquet. She did not consider the propriety of weeping and shedding tears in the presence of our Lord’s guests. Her only concern was to reach him for whom her soul was already wounded and on fire, without any delay and without waiting for another more appropriate time [Lk 7:37–38]. And such is the inebriation and courage of love: Knowing that her Beloved was shut up in the tomb by a huge sealed rock and surrounded by guards so the disciples could not steal his body, she did not permit this to keep her from going out with ointments before daybreak to anoint him [Mt 27:64–66; Mk 16:1–2; Jn. 20:1]”(N 2.13.6).
The foundation of all spiritual growth is self-knowledge. Levi, who became Matthew, saw his sinfulness in the light of Jesus’ love for him and underwent a change of heart to become his disciple. Mary Magdalene also saw her sinfulness in the light of Jesus’ love for her and likewise underwent a change of heart to become Jesus’ disciple. To see our true state as sinners in the light of God’s love is disconcerting at first; but when acknowledged and accepted it leads to the freedom to undergo all sufferings for the sake of the one who sets us free.
Lord God, through this Season of Lent you call us to a deeper life of faith and union with you through Christ, your Son. Grant, we ask, that no attachments to our past (whether innocent or sinful) keep us from dining with the Risen Lord at Easter. We ask this through Christ, our Lord, Amen.
We invite you to add your reflections and prayers in the comments section below.
Adapted from A Lenten Journey with Jesus Christ and St. John of the Cross by Fr. George Mangiaracina O.C.D.