“Jesus went out along the sea. All the crowd came to him and he taught them. As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed Jesus.” (MK 2: 13-14)
Now I understand better the English phrase “by the way” because Levi’s vocation was born exactly this way, when Our Lord “passed by, and saw Levi, son of Alphaeus,” and “said to him, ’Follow me.’” No great novena, hundreds of rosaries, special preparation, retreats and spiritual directing. Nothing like this. In passing. God calls us when we are ready and when we are not. Levi “got up and followed Jesus” without any question, any comments, or any assurances that he was completely unworthy and for sure that Jesus should invite somebody else. Jesus said, “he got up.”
“The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor and to proclaim liberty to captives.”
“He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.” (MK 1: 45)
Jesus takes care of us everywhere. Also in “deserted places.” There is no need to go especially there (but of course you can go and I would strongly recommend this) because we have such a place in ourselves: hidden, shameful, and empty. Jesus chooses these places to be with us to give us many consolations. There is no place, no loneliness which cannot be filled with God’s love. And God’s word beckons us—“people kept coming to Him from everywhere.”
“Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and cured every disease among the people.” (Gospel Acclamation)
Please keep me in Your prayers. I’m just about to start my individual annual retreat in my hermitage.
I’ll keep you in my prayers very much.
God bless and see You in two weeks.
“‘The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven or from men?’ And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, `From heaven,’ he will say to us, `Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, `From men,’ we are afraid of the multitude; for all hold that John was a prophet.’ So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.’” (MT 21: 25-27)
They seemed to themselves smart, but their “cleverness” didn’t help them recognize the truth about Our Lord. Jesus came with one very simple message: we are loved, we are important, we are God’s children. He has all authority to “do these things” and “grant us salvation.”
“Show us, LORD, your love, and grant us your salvation.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘As for you, your sins are forgiven.’” (LK 5: 18-20)
The “men” who “brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed” expected only (probably the paralyzed man too) that Our Lord would cure him. He received from Jesus forgiveness first—“your sins are forgiven.” Only after the reunion with God came the cure. Our Lord always wants a better life for us, a bigger perspective and a deeper relationship with Him. Our health, job, and many other different expectations are secondary and subordinate to the main one.
“Behold the king will come, the Lord of the earth, and he himself will lift the yoke of our captivity.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“He received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.” (DN 7: 14)
Our Lord is the King of the Universe, and “He received dominion, glory and kingship.” It is not like any other kingdom; “His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away.” All of this is just for one reason: to assure us that we are loved and protected forever.
“Stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, ‘Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!’”
Most of the time, we can come very close to Our Lord, but when we can’t, we can, like the lepers:”at a distance from him,” raise our voices saying: “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us.” And He is never tired of answering our requests; He is always welcoming, and it doesn’t matter what we bring; He answers each time.
“In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying: ‘Blessed are…’” (MT 5: 1-11)
Our Lord totally changes perspectives for all kinds of situations generally recognized as bad situations. The Bible uses the word makarios (gr.) which means fortunate or lucky rather than blessed. Our Lord turns around the entire perspective. How often we can see only the other side of the tapestry–full of knots, short threads, a mishmash of colors—it generally looks like a mess. Only God looks from the right perspective—“He went up to the mountain,” and can see the beauty of the tapestry, and only He has the authority to say what is good and what is bad.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest, says the Lord.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’” (LK 13: 7-9)
This world expects fruits on demand from us. We should be ready to answer to all needs. At the same time, we forget that we need time to grow; we need good ground and all kinds of supplementation. Our Lord is patient, full of respect and always supporting us.
“I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, says the Lord, but rather in his conversion that he may live.” (Gospel acclamation)
“The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” (ROM 7: 18-19)
Our poor condition: “the willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not.” So often we try so many times to do something good, but “I do the evil I do not want.” It happens within families, among couples and parents, within coworkers and in many other situations. God knows our condition and is always with us to support us, to help us and to bring us hope. Always we can ask for forgiveness and start again and again.
“Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.” (Gospel Acclamation)