A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke 5:27-32
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."
Have you been in an Intensive Care Unit at a hospital? There is constant care and monitoring. Every beat of the heart is measured and every breath assessed for oxygen level in the patient. There are numerous analysis and steps taken in critical care unbeknownst to the average citizen. I think God is in the business of critical care for our souls. “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."”
Every beat of our hearts should be an act of love for others; but in our human nature, we can fall short. We have begun the liturgical season of Lent, which is a great time to repent. We celebrated Ash Wednesday by wearing the temporary brand of ashes in the shape of a cross, telling society we are sinners. We should also recognize we have been given the greatest gift, Mercy. However, we need to ready ourselves for God’s mercy.
I believe many of us struggle to receive forgiveness because our hearts are not ready. We have our own agenda and our pride comes first. We struggle to become docile and open to the Holy Spirit. When I find myself conjoining readily to my ego, I carve out some time to be in the presence of Jesus and walk through His pain and suffering in the Way of the Cross. Or, I pray the seven Sorrows of Mary. These are wonderful prayers set by the church, offering us a renewed sense of compassion and selfless thoughts which lead us to a true reconciliation.
Jesus never takes his eyes off of us and is constantly ready to administer to the sick, especially those needing critical care. Let us spend some extra time this Lenten season to search our hearts and give it to the great healer. No matter the sin or suffering, Jesus heals the repentant heart through the sacrament of reconciliation. I pray the ashes worn on the first day of Lent remain with us, so we can truly ask for God’s mercy.