The Calling of Levi

Today’s gospel – the calling of Levi (usually identified with the apostle Matthew), in Luke chapter 5. Levi is a ‘toll-collector’ (that is a collector of indirect taxes) who in Luke’s version entertains Jesus with colleagues in his own home; Jesus is criticised for accepting this hospitality. At a time when hospitality is, almost uniquely in human history, very difficult to show to others, it’s perhaps worth reflecting on its importance and why we miss it so much. Welcoming family members, friends and strangers and sharing food and drink with them is a good thing to do, a virtuous thing. We don’t have to do it elaborately or get stressed by it (which happens easily); we’re simply sharing the gifts we have received from God with others. Even the poorest people are often able to share these gifts and show hospitality, as we see in the Bible (for example, the Widow of Zarephath with the prophet Elijah [1 Kings 17]). Christianity encourages us to see the face of Christ in our guests; but the example of the calling of Levi shows us that we can or might be criticised as hosts or guests. We are meant by God to be hospitable people – so politicians and others who stir up hostility to strangers and others who would be guests peddle a very un-Christian message.

God bless and take care

Fr Ashley

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