He said to him, “Follow me.”
When Jesus saw Levi sitting at his customs post he called for Levi to follow. Levi left everything and followed Jesus [Lk 5:28]. But, unlike other times when Jesus invited someone to follow, it seems like Jesus is actually the one following Levi to his house, where Levi holds a great banquet with a large crowd of tax collectors around the table [Lk 5:29]. So what are we to make of this man who paradoxically leaves everything behind only to return home and have a banquet with his peers?
Could it be in this paradox we begin to confront the answer? Levi goes home, has his peers over, and has a banquet for Jesus. We often place primacy on “Follow me” stories like that of Simon, James, and John [Lk 5:1-11], but in today’s passage, Levi’s “follow me” call was to a place of familiarity, of commonness (at least what was common to him). He wasn’t asked to change his scenery, but asked to follow by bringing Jesus with him into his true place, his home, his sinfulness, and his creatureliness. Following Jesus does not always mean setting lofty goals of sweeping change in our lives. No, Jesus, perhaps more often than not, asks that we follow him in the familiarity and commonness of our ordinary and everyday (yea, sinful) lives.
During these days with ashes and the reminder of our being dust to which we shall return, maybe we are called to invite Jesus to sit at the table of our ordinary lives. Perhaps it is there at that table that we hear what the call to repentance is for us.
Take 30-60 minutes for the following imaginative prayer.
Recall that you are in the presence of God.
Read the Gospel [Luke 5:27-31], where Jesus calls Levi.
Enter into the scene at the table. It is your home. These are your friends.
What is talked about? What is eaten? How does Jesus fit in with you and your peers? What would you ask him?
How does Jesus’ presence challenge you? Does Jesus’ presence make you feel accepted? Called?
Pay attention to how you are feeling. What affective movement, if any, are you experiencing in this prayer?
Imaginative prayer gives us the opportunity to confront and experience Jesus through the mysterious workings of our mind–both conscious and unconscious. Allow any apprehensions to fall away and enter your imagination with the trust that God meets us in and through our human faculties!
Good and gracious God, we are always returning, always in a movement toward our true home. We know that “our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” As we begin the discipline of the season of Lent, give us the grace to begin our journey back to our true home. May we travel this journey wholeheartedly, not simply ‘rending our garments’ superficially, but truly placing ourselves in the hands of your Divine Mercy and experiencing your ineffable and unconditional love. May we who follow the Xaverian Way, commit ourselves to renewing our family and being your compassionate presence in our world today. We ask this in the name of Jesus, your Son and our brother. Amen.