Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
(Ephesians 4:1-6; Luke 12:54-59)
In a remarkable painting the seventeenth century artist Caravaggio depicts Jesus calling Levi, the tax collector. Light streams from behind Jesus to expose a look of complete surprise on the tax collector’s face. Jesus points to Levi with his hand reminiscent of God’s on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. A new creation is taking place. Levi is being called to become a new man. Meanwhile he points his own finger at himself as if to say, “Me? You must be kidding.”
As Jesus calls the tax collector to follow him, he beckons each of us. Like Levi, we may be astounded by the summons. “Am I fortunate or deluded?” we ask ourselves. “Does it mean that I have to give up everything?” we worry. The reading from Ephesians today does not demur in impressing on us the reality of the call. It also reminds us of the burden such a call imposes. We will have to bear with the idiosyncrasies of one another and strive to make our own less annoying.
Sooner or later our effort will cause us to ask, “Is the call worth it?” A recent analysis discovers four stages of happiness: satisfying our physical senses, bettering our neighbors, coming to peace with others, entering into a relationship with God. The first two kinds are fleeting while the latter settle deeply within the soul. Ephesians proposes these final types of happiness as it speaks of “unity of the spirit through the bond of peace” and “one God and Father of all” as our destiny in Christ Jesus. It harbors no doubt that the assured goal more than justifies any energy exerted.