13 Feb 2016
Saturday after Ash Wednesday
There are a lot of “ifs” and “thens” in Isaiah today. “If you remove oppression, then the Lord will guide you always.” “If you call the Sabbath a delight, then you shall delight in the Lord.” “If you bestow your bread on the hungry, then the Lord will give you plenty.” We give and the Lord gives.
But God is interested in the quality of our giving; the quality of our “yes” to those many “ifs” he puts in front of us. In the gospel we see that Jesus put in front of Levi a proposition, and Levi responded very generously. When Jesus said, “Follow me,” Levi didn’t roll his eyes and let out a heavy sigh. He simply “left everything behind,” and then “gave a great banquet” for Jesus at his house.
Saint Paul says that “God loves a cheerful giver” [2 Cor. 9:7]; and Levi certainly was that. In him we have one example of the quality we want to try to have in our everyday response to the Lord—the quality of trust and even joyful acceptance of what the Lord asks of us.
For instance, we might feel Jesus saying something like: “If you stop thinking uncharitably, then I’ll show you a happier life.” Or maybe, “If you turn to me instead of turning to food when you’re depressed, then life will be more peaceful for you.” Or even, “If you spend more time with me in prayer, then your life will fall into place.” Jesus puts propositions like that into our hearts.
And what leads to the greatest benefit, is when we can say “yes” to Jesus with trust and even joyful acceptance of what he asks of us. During Lent, it might be a good thing to consider how we respond to the Lord when he “pokes at our conscience.” Do we follow him willingly and with joy? Or do we let out a sigh and give a half-hearted . . . oh, ok.