We begin our third week of daily reflections on Mark’s Gospel. I remind you that these are my reflections and are by no means exhaustive expositions.
All Called by Jesus
He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. Mark 2:13-14
Levi, who we will know better as Matthew, bears the name of the priestly tribe. He is no fisherman; he’s a tax collector. He is sitting at what would equate to a toll booth or tariff office for the Empire. Jews would look at him as a traitor because he handles tributes to Tiberius Caesar Augustus, one who is honored as “divus” (divine). This job and lifestyle make Levi an outsider amid his people and a sinner of note. Irony, for sure.
Jesus extends the same invitation to Levi as he had to Simon, Andrew, James, and John, “Follow me.” And Levi follows.
The calling of Levi always strikes me, as it reveals the diversity of backgrounds, gifts, and characters in those Jesus calls. You start with Galilean fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot from Canaan, and a non-Galilean from Kerioth. You will also have women from Magdala, Bethany, and Emmaus. There are more, all called by Jesus.
When I look around the church I serve, I see blue-collar and white-collar workers, old and young, female and male, black, white, and brown. We have notorious sinners of the past and some who have lived relatively tame lives. We have immigrants from Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, and the Caribbean. We even have people who the culture wants us to see as mortal enemies: political partisans. There is more, all called by Jesus. And this is why I affectionally refer to them as the “White Hot Mess.”
Diversity can often lead to tension. Add on a crisis in the church or a pandemic into the mix, and those differences can be amplified. Remind us that we have been made in your image and called into your ministry. May we be a “White Hot Mess” that shines brightly with your love and light from the top of the hill!
I pray this in the name of the Source of our light. Amen!