Jesus Calls Matthew   2 comments

Above:  The Calling of Saint Matthew, by Hendrick ter Brugghen

++++++++++

Isaiah 58:9b-14 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

If you take away from the midst of you the yoke,

the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,

if you pour yourself out for the hungry

and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,

then shall your light rise in the darkness

and your gloom be as the noonday.

And the LORD will guide you continually,

and satisfy your desire with good things,

and make your bones strong;

and you shall be like a watered garden,

like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;

you shall raise up the foundations of many generations,

you shall be called the repairer of the breach,

the restorer of streets to dwell in.

If you turn back your foot from the sabbath,

from doing your pleasure on my holy day,

and call the sabbath a delight

and the holy day of the LORD honorable;

if you honor it, not going your own ways,

or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;

then you shall delight in the LORD,

and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth;

I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,

for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Psalm 86:1-11 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

Incline your ear to me, O LORD, and answer me,

for I am poor and needy.

Preserve my life, for I am godly;

save your servant who trusts in you.

You are my God; have mercy on me, O Lord,

for to you do I cry all the day.

Gladden the soul of your servant,

for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,

abounding in mercy to all who call on you.

Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;

listen to the cry of my supplication.

In the day of my trouble I call on you,

for you do answer me.

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,

nor are there any works like yours.

All the nations you have made shall come

and bow down before you, O Lord,

and shall glorify your name.

For you are great and do wondrous things,

you alone are God.

Teach me your way, O LORD,

that I may walk in your truth;

unite my heart to fear your name.

Luke 5:27-32 (Revised Standard Version–Second Catholic Edition):

After this [healing a paralytic] he [Jesus] went out, and saw a tax collector, named Levi, sitting at the tax office; and he said to him,

Follow me.

And he left everything, and rose and followed him.

And Levi made him a great feast in his house; and there was a large company of tax collectors and others sitting at table with them.  And the Pharisees and their scribes murmured against his disciples, saying,

Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?

And Jesus answered them,

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

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth your right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

+++++++++++

Over the years I have had encounters (often unpleasant) with religious know-it-alls, universally fundamentalist Protestants–often Southern Baptists and Church of God in Christers.  They have informed me that I think too much, ask too many questions, and that these tendencies have damned me to Hell.  Their narrow vision did not enable them to consider me part of the Christian spectrum.  Without even pretending to get along with them (for I do not know how to conduct an intelligent theological dialogue with one has consigned me to Hell), I am far more generous toward them they were toward me; they are Christians, too, as I define “Christian.”  Questions concerning damnation are sole province of God.  And some of my best theological discussions have been with those who have exiled themselves from organized religion (yet not Christian faith) after negative experiences; they were open to possibilities, not wedded to a rigid theology.

Jesus recognized great potential where others (in today’s reading, Pharisees) saw the damned and the undesirable.  Tax collectors were Roman collaborators and literal tax thieves–certainly despised people.  And Jesus thought of them as human beings who needed him.  So he reached out to them.  This caused a scandal.

May we who call ourselves Christians have enough courage to expand the boundaries of our thinking.  May we, by grace, see more nearly as God sees. When we look at people who differ from us as fellow children of God, bearers of the divine image.  May we dare to look past any tradition or other worldview which obstructs a divine viewpoint toward our fellow human beings.  And may we commit sacredly scandalous acts when those are appropriate.  Polite society tells us that those who lie with dogs rise with fleas.  This is true sometimes, but were the tax collectors dogs?  Did Jesus rise with fleas?  Are we more like Jesus or an unduly critical Pharisee clinging to tradition sincerely yet wrongly, out of faith?

Jesus said to follow him.  He did not say to affirm certain creeds in their entirety or to sign a written confession of faith.  No, Jesus said to follow him.  The path of Jesus is one of love of God, others, and self.  It leads to sacrifices, and sometimes to ignominy and martyrdom.  It is a narrow and difficult road, but it is the life-giving road, also.  Following Jesus is active; it is lived orthopraxy, not stale and merely intellectual orthodoxy frozen in the form of a creed, confession, or liturgy.  When lived orthopraxy is what it should be, it is indistinguishable from healthy orthodoxy.

So, let us follow Jesus.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 18, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GUIDO DI PIETRO, A.K.A. FRA ANGELICO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND ARTIST

THE FEAST OF SAINTS COLMAN OF LINDISFARNE, AGILBERT, AND WILFRID, BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF MARTIN LUTHER, PROTESTANT REFORMER

THE FEAST OF SAINT THEOTONIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/fourth-day-of-lent/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: