In Luke 5:27-32, the Pharisees passed judgment on Jesus for associating and mingling with tax collectors and sinners. However, in response, Jesus said that He came to call not the upright, but the sinners to repentance. The Gospel talks about what our disposition should be. Jesus came to save sinners, not the righteous. He calls us to strip away our masks, reflect on our lives, be honest and humble enough to admit that we need saving. While God is merciful and kind, while He has the power to save us and grant our heart’s desires, we have to want it. We have to tell Him that we want to receive His mercy, that we desire His love, and that we are in dire need of saving.
After reading the Psalm today, I was awed at how beautiful and powerful David’s prayer was and how it shows us how a humble servant with complete faith in God should pray. In Psalm 86:1-6, David prays “Listen to me, Yahweh, answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard me, for I am faithful, save your servant who relies on you. You are my God, take pity on me, Lord, for to you I cry all the day. Fill your servant's heart with joy, Lord, for to you I raise up my heart. Lord, you are kind and forgiving, rich in faithful love for all who call upon you. Yahweh, hear my prayer, listen to the sound of my pleading.” And this I think is what the Gospel is asking us to do. Be humble enough to admit our weaknesses, our limitations, our sins, and ask God to replace these shortcomings and heal our pain with His love, mercy, and grace.
The First Reading then tells us God’s response. Isaiah 58:9-14 says “Then you will cry for help and Yahweh will answer; you will call and he will say, 'I am here.' If you do away with the yoke, the clenched fist and malicious words, if you deprive yourself for the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, your light will rise in the darkness, and your darkest hour will be like noon. Yahweh will always guide you, will satisfy your needs in the scorched land; he will give strength to your bones and you will be like a watered garden, like a flowing spring whose waters never run dry… If you refrain from breaking the Sabbath, from taking your own pleasure on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath 'Delightful', and the day sacred to Yahweh 'Honourable', if you honour it by abstaining from travel, from seeking your own pleasure and from too much talk, then you will find true happiness in Yahweh, and I shall lead you in triumph over the heights of the land. I shall feed you on the heritage of your father Jacob, for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.”
The First Reading affirms us that if we cry for help, God will listen. If we honor God, put Him first in our lives, and follow His commandments, we will find true happiness in Him.
In this season of Lent, may we, through reflecting on God’s words, sacrificing, and doing charitable works, strip ourselves of anything that hinders us from completely surrendering to God. May the Holy Spirit fill our hearts with humility to allow us to admit that we cannot do it alone, and that we need God in our lives. May we trust and claim that we will be at our happiest when we put God before all else.