After healing the paralyzed man, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up, left everything, and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
The OfferingFrom Rev. Katie Nakamura Rengers
I have been accused, over the course of my ministry, of being “anti rich people.” And maybe this Lenten reflection is my opportunity to own up that bias; I do get impatient with people who can’t see their own privilege and with churches that I perceive as spending obnoxious amounts of money on truly frivolous things. So there’s certainly a righteous indignation side of this. However, it’s also a defense mechanism – when there’s something I don’t have (money to fly to France, the latest i-phone, a Southern Living worthy house), my tendency is to discount that thing as excessive and trivial.
Apparently, the scribes and Pharisees agreed with me. In this passage, they’re especially wound up to see Jesus banqueting at Levi’s house along with a whole bunch of other tax collectors. It’s always a warning sign when you find yourself in solidarity with the biblical Pharisees.
Last year, I printed an icon of Joseph of Arimathea for my bulletin board. Joseph is the rich man with tons of authority and privilege, who, after all the other male disciples have run away, asks Pilate for the body of Jesus. As Jesus was essentially a pauper, Joseph has the body laid in his own tomb. For me, the icon is a regular reminder that God calls people of ALL kinds and with all sorts of resources to serve the Kingdom. And, of course, I have to remember that compared to most of the world (and this country) I myself am very wealthy – how do I use my wealth to be loving and generous?
Here’s my question for you: What kind of people do you have a bias against? Is there an icon of a Saint who fits that description that you need to hang on your wall?