Gospel Reflection – Saturday, February 17, 2024 – Luke 5,27-32 – Catholic Bible

First Reading (Isaiah 58:9b-14)

Reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.

Thus says the Lord: if you destroy your instruments of oppression and leave behind authoritarian habits and malicious speech; if you welcome the needy with an open heart and provide all assistance to the destitute, your light will rise in the darkness and your dark life will be like midday.

The Lord will guide you always and satisfy your thirst in the dryness of life, and renew the vigor of your body; you will be like a well-watered garden, like a fountain of waters that will never dry up. Your people will rebuild ancient ruins; you will raise up the foundations of past generations: you will be called a rebuilder of ruins, a restorer of paths, in the lands to be inhabited.

If you refrain from going out on the Sabbath, or attending to business on my holy day, if you consider the Sabbath your favorite day, the glorious day, consecrated to the Lord, if you honor it by setting aside activities, business, and conversations, then you will delight in the Lord; I will make you ride on the heights of the earth and enjoy the inheritance of Jacob, your father. Thus spoke the mouth of the Lord.

– Word of the Lord.

– Thanks be to God.

Gospel (Luke 5:27-32)

— READING from the Gospel according to Luke.

— Glory to you, Lord!

At that time, Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax booth. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” Levi left everything, got up, and followed him.

Later, Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house. A large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law complained to Jesus’ disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

— The Gospel of the Lord.

— Praise to you, Lord.

Reflecting the Word of God

Brothers and sisters in Christ, may the peace of the Lord be with you. Today, I would like to begin our reflection with a question: Have you ever felt invisible in the midst of the crowd? Have you experienced the sensation of being ignored, of not being recognized in your essence and dignity? In our everyday life, it is common to feel this way, lost amidst the rush, the incessant demands, and the worries that consume us. But I have good news for you: God never leaves us invisible! In His infinite mercy, He sees us, knows us, and calls us to a life of fullness and transformation.

At this moment, I would like to turn to the Sacred Scriptures, to the First Reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 58:9b-14). The prophet speaks to us about the true fasting that pleases God, a fasting that is not limited to external abstentions but transforms us internally. He says to us: “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am.” These words reveal to us the closeness of God, His readiness to listen to us and to help us. He is always by our side, ready to heed our pleas, as long as we are willing to turn to Him with a sincere heart.

And how can we turn to God? How can we live this true fasting? The Gospel of Luke (Luke 5:27-32) offers us an inspiring answer. In it, Jesus calls Levi, a tax collector, to follow Him. Levi was a man despised by society, considered a sinner and an outcast. However, Jesus sees beyond his appearances, beyond his mistakes and limitations. He sees in Levi the possibility of a radical transformation.

By accepting Jesus’ call, Levi gets up, leaves everything behind, and becomes a disciple of the Master. He undergoes a true fasting, abandoning his old life of sin and making room for divine grace to act in his life. And as Levi experiences the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus, he becomes a new man, called Matthew, the apostle and evangelist. He becomes an instrument of God to proclaim the Good News and bring hope to many thirsty hearts.

This story invites us to reflect on our own lives. How often do we let ourselves be defined by our mistakes, sins, and weaknesses? How often do we feel unworthy of God’s love? Jesus shows us that He is willing to welcome us, forgive us, and transform us, regardless of our past. He sees us as we are, but He also sees what we can become through His grace.

My dear ones, like Levi, we are called to rise up, to leave behind everything that separates us from God, to abandon old patterns of thought and behavior that bind us, and to embrace a new life in Christ. True fasting is an invitation to strip ourselves of our selfishness, of our excessive ambitions, and of our pursuit of recognition and power. It is an invitation to open ourselves to God’s love and to others, to become channels of His grace in the world.

But how can we live this transformative fasting in our daily lives? Allow me to share some practical guidelines. Firstly, we need to cultivate humility, acknowledging our dependence on God and our need for His guidance in all things. Just as Levi had the courage to leave everything to follow Jesus, we too are called to renounce our self-sufficiency and to trust fully in the Lord.

Moreover, we must nurture our relationships, seeking reconciliation and forgiveness. Often, we carry grudges and resentments that prevent us from experiencing the fullness of God’s love. Jesus teaches us that true fasting includes reaching out to the needy, sharing our food with the hungry, clothing the naked, and welcoming the stranger. It is in these small acts of kindness and compassion that we manifest God’s love in our lives.

We must also strive for justice and the promotion of the common good. Isaiah tells us: “If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness.” We are called to fight against all forms of oppression, to denounce injustices, and to work for the building of a more just and compassionate society.

Brothers and sisters, living this true fasting is not an easy task. It requires effort, discipline, and constant inner conversion. But we are not alone on this journey. God is with us, strengthening us and empowering us every step of the way. He offers us His grace and His constant presence to guide us.

At this moment, I invite each of you to take a moment in silence. Close your eyes and open your hearts to the action of the Holy Spirit. Allow yourselves to be touched by His transformative grace. Think of an area of your life where you need to live true fasting, where you need to rise up, abandon old patterns, and embrace a new life in Christ. Ask God for the strength and courage to make this decision and the perseverance to move forward, even in the face of difficulties.

My beloved ones, may this reflection inspire us to a life of authenticity and commitment to the Gospel. May we be living witnesses of God’s love in our world, radiating His light and hope wherever we are.

May the call of Jesus resonate in our hearts as it did in Levi’s heart: “Follow me.” And may, in responding to this call, we experience inner transformation, the joy of reconciliation, and the fullness of life in God.

May Our Lady, the mother of Jesus and our mother, intercede for us and accompany us on our journey of faith. May she teach us to live true fasting, following the example of her beloved Son.

May the Lord bless us and strengthen us in our journey. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.