In today’s First Reading the Letter to the Hebrews describes the word of God as being like a two-edged sword, a sword that has the edges and finesse to get to the vital spots of its opponent. Yet this “sword” goes even deeper: it can pierce even the spirit and the soul, leaving its adversary (an obstinate soul) defenseless and exposed. Depending on your state of soul the word of God may feel like jabbing an already raw wound or exposed nerve, but, as Our Lord describes in today’s Gospel, he is trying to perform surgery, which requires pain, a pain with the goal of healing a greater wound.
In today’s Gospel the word of the Our Lord strikes to the heart of Levi (St. Matthew) as he sits at his post, collecting customs, and simply says, “follow me.” Levi does it without question; following Our Lord is the answer to what he has been seeking in life, and what he thinks his friends and acquaintances have been seeking as well, which is why he invites them to dine with the man who has given newfound meaning to his life. The scribes who criticize Our Lord for associating with tax collectors and sinners are also disarmed by the words of Our Lord in a master stroke: do not the sick, even the spiritually sick, need a physician? In a few words he changes our attitude regarding sinners: from condemned to wounded in need of our compassion and care.
The word of God has something to say every time we listen to it. Let’s allow the physician to perform his surgery on our souls today. If he has to cut deep we know it is with greater healing in mind.
Readings: Hebrews 4:12–16; Psalm 19:8–10, 15; Mark 2:13–17. See also Saturday after Ash Wednesday and St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist.