The Call of Levi
There are many people who are drawn to Jesus whom they considered as unwanted and unlovable, such as: the lame, the blind, the lepers; the homeless, such as: the widows and orphans; public sinners, like: the town prostitutes and corrupt tax collectors. In today’s gospel Jesus calls Matthew, a tax collector and one of the most despised people, to be one of His disciples. Despised people because they are collaborators of the Roman government, the Jewish enemy, and make their profit by extortion of collecting taxes more than what is required of the Roman law. Therefore, orthodox Jews refuse to do business with them; refuse to give or receive anything from them; refuse to intermarry and avoid any form of entertainment with them.
Jesus says to Matthew in today’s gospel: “Follow me.” These are the same words that Christ uses to call all His followers like us. There are no two disciples of the same background. All come from different backgrounds and all have different personalities and talents. Christ calls His followers from among sinners even the hardest of sinners. Look at St. Matthew, he is a tax collector and the most despicable of sinners and yet Christ chooses him and looks beyond his sin. He can have chosen someone more holy and yet He chose Matthew. He read his heart and He sees a generous spirit willing to know and live the truth. And it is Christ who calls and we must respond. This calling is popularly known today as vocation. Vocation is a perspective that God has called and equipped people to serve Him through their work in the world.
Vocation comes from the Latin word vocare, which means, ‘to call’ and this calling means the work we are called to by God.
There are different kinds of voices calling us to all different kinds of work and the problem is on how to find out which one of these voices, is the voice of God rather than that of the voices of the Society or the Superego or Self-Interest.
According to Frederick Buechner in his book, Wishful Thinking A Theological ABC (Harper San Francisco, A Division of Harper Collins Publishers, 1973, p. 95) said that a good rule for finding the voice of God calling us out is this:
- The kind of work God usually calls you to do is the kind of work that: A) you need most to do and B) the world most needs to have done.
- If you really get a kick out of your work, you have presumably met Requirement A, but if your work is writing TV deodorant commercials, the chances are you have missed Requirement B. On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you have probably met Requirement B but if most of the time you are bored and depressed by it, the chances are you have not only bypassed Requirement A but probably are not helping your patients much either.
Somebody had said that God calls us to a far more stable basis for significance. He wants us to establish our identity in the fact that we are His children, created by Him to carry out good works as responsible people in His kingdom (Eph. 2:10). This is our calling or vocation from God. According to Scripture, our calling is irrevocable (Rom. 11:29) and is focused on eternal achievements, not merely temporal ones (Phil. 3:134:1).
Let us remember that the place God calls you to, is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.