29Then Levi gave a great banquet for Jesus in his house;

and there was a large crowd of tax-collectors and others sitting at the table with them.30The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax-collectors and sinners?’31Jesus answered, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; 32I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.’

Where do I locate myself in this story?

I could be Levi, grateful for the blessing of life, eager to celebrate the experience of love that has been so profoundly uncovered in my heart, happy to throw a “great banquet” in thanksgiving for the restoration I have glimpsed.

Perhaps I am among the “large crowd of tax-collectors and others sitting at the table.” I have been accustomed to being excluded; now suddenly here is an unexpected experience of welcome.

Or, I might find myself among the “Pharisees and their scribes” who “were complaining to Jesus’ disciples”. I might feel that this “banquet” is just not quite proper. It crosses too many barriers, breaks too many conventions. Things need to be kept within reasonable parameters. If just anyone is welcome how will we preserve a cohesive sense of identity?

Wherever I find myself among the characters in this small tale, there is one place I know I belong. I am one who needs “a physician.” I am among the “sinners” in need of “repentance.”

There is something askew in my life. There is a part of me that is just a little bit bent, oriented towards the “sick” practice of placing myself at the centre of my own little universe. I see in myself a small tyrant concerned before anything else about his own needs and who battles always to make the world operate according to his wishes.

I am not “righteous”, that is, in line with the way life is designed to operate. I am out of alignment.

I know, again and again, I need to reorient my life (“repent”). I need to return to centre. I need to recover my true identity. I have wandered away and become lost. Jesus calls me back to my true self, to that place where I discover again that the heart of my existence is love and light, and goodness and beauty.

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