“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)
“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)
“Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” (MT 24:42)
“Stay awake,” expect Our Lord’s coming, “for you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” Our lives are not only for earth, we are invited to spend all eternity with God in Heaven, and being “awake” help us to remember “here and now” how to love more, how to believe stronger, and how to have hope which always leads you to Him.
“Stay awake! For you do not know when the Son of Man will come.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“‘Who then can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.’” (MT 19: 26)
Our salvation is based on Jesus’ death on the Cross, not on our achievement or as a reward for our fantastic lives. No one can be saved by himself, but “for God all things are possible,” and the one thing we can do is to give our lives to Him and trust more in His love and mercy.
“Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich so that by his poverty you might become rich.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, ‘This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.’ Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.” (MK 9: 7-8)
The Transfiguration of the Lord was to strengthen the faith of the disciples. The voice of God the Father came from the cloud: “this is my beloved Son. Listen to him” to confirm His Son’s mission. But what is more important, with the Transfiguration we received a precious gift—the freedom to see no one but Jesus as an answer to all our needs—“looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.” He is the answer, the solution, the help and only hope.
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said, ‘Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.’” (ACTS 5: 19-20)
We could be “imprisoned” in our minds for so many different reasons: wounded by unfair expectations of our parents—we do not believe that we are important; used by somebody whom we loved—we think that we are valuable only when useful; rejected or abandoned by our partners—we do not believe that we have dignity. But God always sends the Angel of the Lord, sometimes during the darkest nights in our lives, to “open the doors of the prison, let us out” and to give us the mission: “tell the people everything about this life.”
“Everything about this life” means: we are loved unconditionally, we are so important for Him, we are valuable and always respected, we are redeemed and our dignity can shine wonderfully.
He never forgets to tell us the most important thing—we are loved by Our Lord, who is LOVE. And we can love like He does.
“God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’” (JN 20: 21-23)
With the resurrection of Our Lord, we receive amazing gifts: peace and the Holy Spirit and behind them the sacrament, which is an explosion of peace and presence of the Holy Spirit—the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is the Sacrament in which we can receive the beauty of the Resurrection: forgiveness of our sins, reconciliation with the Father and new life.
And today we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday instituted by St. John Paul II after the apparitions of Our Lord received by St. Faustina. We know from her diary that anyone who participates in the Mass and receives the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist on this day is assured by Jesus of full remission of their sins and punishments. And we are invited not only to receive these gifts, but also to exercise mercy toward our neighbors: first—by deed, second—by word, and third—by prayer.
Without mercy there is no hope for the world. With mercy our dignity shines, our relationships grow, and we becomes ambassadors of God’s presence in the world.
“You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord; blessed are those who have not seen me, but still believe!” (Gospel Acclamation)
“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be well?’ The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.’” (Jn 5: 6-7)
This is the saddest message: “I have no one to put me into the pool.” He was ill for 38 years and was totally alone, even surrounded by many like he: “a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.” Maybe, in the beginning of his illness, there was someone who took care of him. Maybe friends visited him regularly, but now—he is alone. Jesus’ love is always with us; we are never alone, and He is never tired of asking us: “Do you want to be well?” Did you answer Him?
“A clean heart create for me, O God; give me back the joy of your salvation.” (Gospel Acclamation)