Have you ever noticed how some Bible passage are short on details? For instance today’s gospel reading is the story of Jesus recruiting Levi (more commonly known as St. Matthew now) as his disciple.
After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them.
This is all we are told about Levi. We need to look at the clues to piece his story together. From this passage, we can see that Levi was apparently a very successful tax collector. He had his own house. He had the financial resources to through a banquet at a moment’s notice. He had enough friends that he was able to fill the banquet with a “large crowd.” Levi had all the worldly trappings of success. What more could you want? Money, comfort, leisure for the buying.
Does this sound like anyone else we’ve seen recently? Heath Ledger was 28 years old when he died two weeks ago. He had fame, money, friends, and a life of comfort (he was scheduled for a massage at the time he died). Still, he was so unhappy he accidentally killed himself by taking a lethal combination of pain killers, sleeping pills, and anti-anxiety meds. At the same time, we also see Brittney Spears continue her very public self-destruction. These two have (had) everything in the world that is supposed to make life enjoyable.
Two thousand years ago a successful tax collector named Levi seemingly found himself in the same position. Then a man walked by and told him to leave it all behind. And he did! Levi gave up everything to follow a Galilean around for three years. He put his life in danger and, years later, likely gave his life for believing in the man who said “follow me.”
Don’t you wish we had the tell-all biography of St. Matthew?