Thursday, August 26, 2010
The tax collector has been hated throughout history. In times of old they would collect for kings and heads of state. They would take from the payor not only the money the king required, but in many cases as much as three to four times the requirement. And if you could not, or would not pay, it often meant imprisonment and even death.
Even today, the tax collector is not much liked. He is even despised by many. Many have lost their homes because they couldn't pay their mortgage or the taxes on their homes, or just couldn't pay their taxes. The IRS just steps in and freezes your assets, has meetings with you, and even charges you with tax evasion. Taxes and tax collectors are the enemy of the economy, but the friend of politicians who constantly want more of your money.
Therefore, I am somewhat disturbed that Jesus called a tax collector to be one of his twelve disciples. Would he be the one to later betray Jesus. Could this guy really be trusted. you might notice that Jesus did not give the money bag to Levi, but rather to Judas, who would later betray him. And yes, the issue was money.
But when you look at it objectively, Levi (Matthew) could have been one of the most important appointees to the discipleship. It was a statement by Jesus that even the those who are considered sinners, and off scouring, are able to be saved and be followers of Christ, and even leaders in the Church. This message gives hope to a lot of us. And it demonstrates God's power to save.
Many of us were worse than tax collectors (hard to do) and God reached down with his love and grace and saved us.