HOMILY FOR SATURDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY.
THEME: HE LOVES EVEN SINNERS
BY: Fr. Karabari Paul.
“Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?”
We give thanks to God that man does not possess the power to give verdict at the final judgment. Some of us know people of our congregation and community that are simply going to hell. How wrong we are. Jesus sees in people what we may not see. The people we consider unrepentant sinners may be potential saints. The verdict belongs to God and God alone.
Levi in the Gospel of today(Luke 5:27-32) was a Jewish tax collector. He had turned coat to work for the Romans, taking his fellow-Jews’ money on behalf of their oppressors. In fact, tax collectors were renowned for their dishonesty. If they were not bad enough, they were also ritually unclean. They had business contacts with gentiles. Their clothings touched the unclean garments of the gentiles. And the Pharisees claimed that if a person ate with sinners, that person became a sinner also.
Levi would have been completely hated. The old self-esteem might take a hit. But miraculously, beautifully, Jesus chose him. And he was brave enough to say ‘okay, I will follow you and your plan’, in spite of whatever he felt about himself, or what others thought.
God’s plans can be pretty nerve-wracking. One of the scariest things about living a life full of good, godly, actions, and choices is what others might think, do, say. We are human, and other people’s reactions do affect us, so we are not saying that it’s wrong to feel that. Definitely not. One dangerous way to live is certainly to live on people’s opinions. It is difficult to please God when you are only interested in what people will say or do. What we are saying, though, is that it is always so worth it to push past perceptions, whether they are your own or others’.
When our fear of other people’s perceptions makes an attempt to stop us following God, He can help us to get past it. Through Jesus, you are capable and equipped. Through Jesus, you have a calendar full of chances. God always has a heavenly reason for His plans, so He will make it possible and entirely worthwhile.
Remarkably, if God should look at us the way we see others, we would not see the light of the next day. Jesus said to Levi, “Follow me,” and Levi got up and followed him. Levi found righteousness in the Son of God. The Pharisees saw righteousness in themselves. He saw with his own eyes what the accusing Pharisees also saw but could not recognize. He saw what Paul described in his letter to the Romans: “In the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” (Romans 1:17). Those who see righteousness in themselves judge others.
Levi made no assumptions. He saw, he listened, and he believed. He trusted the One sent from God because he trusted God. May we, too, live by faith, not by assumptions. When we see people the way God sees them, we will love them without prejudice.
Levi also realised that the comfort from his zone could only last for a while. He needed salvation and the opportunity came, he didn’t waste time to utilise it. Today, another opportunity has come for us in Nigeria to choose a better country. We must be very intentional and determined. It is about our future, that of our children, and that of our business and career. Our choice today determines what awaits us. It is our pathway to either prosperity or doom. This fate is not what a governor, minister, commissioner, or man of God should decide for us. We have had enough of bad governance. Like Levi, we must be swift and bracket every negative opinion and inducement.
GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE. May God bless and keep us all through Christ, our Lord Amen. Good morning.
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