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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Feast of St. Anthony, hermit

Anthony (spelled without an "h" in the early Church) was the most famous of the early hermits and desert Fathers. He heard God calling him in a sermon, gave away all his possessions and went into the desert to live a solitary life; he had provided for his sister before he left which means much to me. He spent years alone in the desert and learned wisdom; he was noted for his holiness and mortification; others came to learn from him how to live as hermits. His life, written by Athanasius, influenced others to follow a life of solitude in the desert. Anthony was the first monk. Many others flocked to Egypt to live alone in the desert in the third century.

In the Gospel today Jesus calls another to follow him. This one was a tax collector, a despised profession among the Jews. Jesus was passing by and he "saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. Jesus said to him, 'Follow me.' And he got up and followed Jesus."

What a simple vocation! Jesus saw him, called him, and he followed! There was no looking back, no trying to hang on to something - he simply heard Jesus calling him and he followed. I think we are too busy to hear Jesus as he is still calling us each day to follow him. Or is it that we do not want to hear his call? Or we trying to protect ourselves? Let us leave all and trust Jesus.
Jesus goes to the house of Levi to eat and is immediately spied on by the Scribes and Pharisees who ask the disciples why Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus heard them and replied, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."
There is always plenty to reflect on in this Gospel!

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