Lent is a time for us to take an honest look at ourselves and receive the grace of Jesus’ healing love.

“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.’”
Luke 5:31‒32

After he had renounced his family and was walking on a country road, St. Francis of Assisi saw a leper. In a moment of grace, he ran toward him, embraced him, and carried him to a river to clean his puss-filled wounds. Instead of disgust at the leper’s unwashed, diseased body, Francis felt joy and compassion. He discovered the vocation he would live for the rest of his life.

In the Gospel reading today, Jesus sees Levi (or Matthew in the Gospel of Matthew) at a toll booth collecting taxes. In the social world of Jesus, Levi was as a moral leper. Tax collectors paid the Romans a fixed sum of money in order to have the legal right to squeeze all that they could from the people. Because they were considered traitors to the people, tax collectors were seen as public sinners and shunned in polite company.

Jesus sees Levi and calls him to be a disciple. Levi leaves his booth and hosts a party for Jesus, with his fellow tax collectors in attendance. Jesus is criticized for his behavior. Jesus responds that he has come to heal the sick, to bring sinners to repentance.

What we need to recognize is that we are not among the righteous—we are the sinners whom Jesus has come to save. We have an infinite capacity to hide the truth of our own moral leprosy from ourselves. We are given this season of Lent to face ourselves honestly, make a true examination of conscience, and celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Pope Francis
“I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else.”

Lenten Action
► Plan to take one of the many opportunities to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation during the season of Lent.
► Download the free eBook 7 Ways to Practice Lent by Joe Paprocki.
► Go back and reflect on something that particularly touched you these first days of Lent.
Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

Help us, O Lord, to be open to the grace of repentance. Show us your compassion and heal our wounded hearts.