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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Luke 5, 27-32

When he went out after this, he noticed a tax collector, Levi by name, sitting at the tax office, and said to him, 'Follow me.'

And leaving everything Levi got up and followed him.

In his honour Levi held a great reception in his house, and with them at table was a large gathering of tax collectors and others.

The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples and said, 'Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?'

Jesus said to them in reply, 'It is not those that are well who need the doctor, but the sick.

I have come to call not the upright but sinners to repentance.'


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The Gospel passage shows us Jesus who once again leaves the house. It is an invitation that we too go out of our protective habits, and above all to not live for ourselves but for others. Jesus is walking down the street when he meets a tax-collector named Levi. Tax-collectors collected taxes for the Romans, who at that time governed over Palestine, and therefore they were considered sinners, not fit for the Gospel, we could say. But for Jesus no one is unfit for the Gospel, not even the greatest of sinners. No sooner does he see him than he calls him, and that tax collector, immediately, like the other first disciples did, gets up, leaves the tax booth and begins to follow Jesus. What counts for the disciples is not the point in which we find ourselves, but readiness to hear the call and to follow it. Levi, once he had gotten up and become a disciple, is no longer the same person. He is different inside his heart. And he shows it: he wants his friends too (tax-collectors and sinners, whom everyone should avoid according to Pharisaic prescriptions) to meet Jesus as he had. In truth, all these perhaps more than others feel the need to be loved; they intuit how precious the Lord’s love is and go to find him and gather around him. The banquet feast expresses well the joy of being in Jesus’ company. He has truly come to seek the poor and sinners. And they are aware of it. Today, Levi the tax collector, together with all the others, is before us so that we may imitate their readiness to gather around the Lord and taste the joy of being saved. In this spiritual path of Lent they remind us of the urgency of turning with our heart to Jesus and following him in his journey towards Easter. We too are sick and sinners and we need this time of grace in order to return to the Lord with readiness, like Levi, without postponing the time of conversion so that we can taste the joy of the banquet with Jesus and with many friends, poor and sinners like we are.

Sunday Vigil