Casting faith in a mould – Saturday, 1st Week in Ordinary time – Mark 2: 13-17

To help you get a better understanding of today’s Gospel, read also

When we read about the scribes or Pharisees in the Bible, our minds are practically made up! These were the Christ-killers; the thorn in Our Lord’s side, the bitter and unhappy ones. But what if initially they were not? What if they were just seekers who sought to understand the strange and shocking actions of our Lord that seemed so alien to what they were used to?

Consider today’s Gospel. As usual Jesus is teaching (2:13). Notice that the Gospel of Mark has mentioned this fact several times already. While he was teaching our Lord was also observing. We know from the Gospel of Mark that at this point he had many followers and disciples but he had called just four to be apostles ( a title not yet mentioned in the Gospel of St Mark) We know that Peter and Andrew, James and John have been called by Jesus to follow him (Mark 1:16-20). Now he calls Levi or Matthew, a tax collector with words similar to the call of the previous four.

Notice that none of these five apostles have questions or clarifications when called. The call of Christ is clear and those whom he called or is calling (yes that includes you) knew that this is a call from Jesus himself. It is the evil one that sows doubt. Think about it, you are being called to serve and to follow him right now but instinctively you will have doubts and fears; that is satan acting against us.

Levi obviously has thrown a dinner. This was by no means a pauper who struggled to eke out a living. Tax collectors were corrupt, ruthless and had no qualms sleeping with the enemy. Levi’s resignation from his job to follow a preacher would certainly have drawn in all sorts of curious onlookers. We are told the house has other tax collectors, sinful men (remember women did not sit at the table) and a bunch of Jesus disciples and followers and perhaps lurking outside the house were the Scribes of the Pharisees.

This was the most unconventional place for a self-respecting Rabbi to be seen, much less easting supper. Dining with someone was an indication that you shared in the innermost circle of love and trust. There is no evidence that the scribes of the Pharisees (a curious term used here) had daggers drawn out against Jesus. Perhaps as I have suggested, they were flummoxed and could not wrap their head around this most bizarre gathering. Hence, they sought an explanation. “ Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

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