Following his encounter with Our Lord, Levi was moved to change his life completely. Now, you might think that this would be the perfect way to end his story; but Levi encountered further aggravation when some Pharisees disrupt the dinner he gave in Our Lord’s honour. The Pharisees objected to Jesus spending time with Levi’s sordid group of friends. Shouldn’t a spiritual leader avoid the sinful so as not to risk contamination?
Then, as if to add insult to injury, Our Lord appears to agree with the Pharisees by likening Levi and his friends to the “sick” in need of a doctor. Now Levi might have reacted defensively, but the fact that he stayed with Jesus and became one of his apostles is a testament to his humility and his dedication.
Last year Pope Francis likened the Church to a “field hospital” for the faithful—not just for those who don’t believe but for all of us. Now, we may not like to think of ourselves as being sick and needing help. But that’s what the season of Lent—that’s what the Cross—is all about. As Saint Paul wrote to Timothy: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15). If we can bring ourselves to echo Saint Paul’s words, if we can find the humility and the dedication of Levi, then we’ll end up finding the same joy, peace, and freedom that they both discovered. And that means our celebration of the Paschal Mysteries this year will become that much more profound and meaningful.