Grace to you!
Yesterday, I shared a story about the identity of Jesus as one who forgives our sins because he is God. Today, I would love to share with you another story about how Jesus actually searches out, literally reaches out to the sinner. To do this, permit me to give some background information to the writings of the Gospel of Mark, which has been our key text of reference for the past five days.
The Gospel of Mark, one of the four Gospels in the New Testament was written to share the story of Jesus’ life, witness, death and resurrection to the Roman audience who wanted to know who Jesus was. So, the writer of the story tries to use a style that fits the Greek audience. The Greek want a methodic, concise and systematic storyline. So, the Gospel of Mark is the shortest gospel, built on stories showing the supremacy of Jesus as God who has power over nature, the world and all that is in it. It also demonstrates Jesus has the power over the hearts and souls of people; he can heal them and forgive their sins. Equally, the gospel reveals the humanness of Jesus as well – someone who connects with everyone, especially the poor, the sinner as well as the gentile. These are themes, which resonate with the Greek people.
Hence, in the Gospel of Mark chapter 2:13-17, the writer tells us a story of the fifth person called by Jesus to be his disciple – the name of the person is Levi and he was a tax collector, a job which the religious, patriotic Jew hated for good reasons. Many tax collectors were fraudulent people who made their money by cheating the Jewish taxpayers as well as the Roman Governors to whom the taxes collected were paid. Tax collectors were therefore regarded as notorious thieves, notorious sinners.
Thus, when Jesus called Levi, the tax collector, as well as went to dinner in Levi’s house and many other tax collectors and sinners joined at table, it was deemed scandalous by those who claimed they were righteous. Why would this so called Jesus eat with tax collectors and sinners? they were curious to know. Jesus’ response that he has come to call sinners and not the righteous was spectacular and revolutionary. But there lies one of the key missions of Jesus. He reaches out to sinners; he seeks them out and offers them a handshake.
A sinner is Jesus’ favorite candidate. When the sinner welcomes Jesus in their home, he gladly dines with them. Sin is never a barrier to the embrace of Jesus. He actually wants us to approach him with our sins; and at the Confessional, he will heal us. Didn’t you realize that the person who is forgiven much loves so much? Don’t you know that you, though a sinner, are God’s favorite candidate?
God love you. God bless you.