In the first reading, God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, tells Israel the proper understanding of the Sabbath. The point of the Sabbath is not so much to rest as to, for one day, do the work of God instead of our own work. God tells his people to “honor it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or speaking with malice.” This is also a good description of what Lent should be about. The true spirit of Lent, fasting, almsgiving, and prayer, is embodied in this idea of turning our back on our own interests. Of course, most people will still have to work during Lent at a job which serves their own interest. Not everyone can take 40 days of vacation to serve the poor. Still, just because a person cannot do something entirely does not mean they ought not do it partially. We would all greatly benefit if, for the next 40 days we all stopped following our own pursuits and began serving.
How easy it is to follow our own pursuits! Even many who claim to follow God only follow him after serving themselves. Jesus said to Levi, “Follow me.” How easy it would have been for Levi to have cleaned up his work and collected all the money sitting out on the table, first taking care of Levi’s priorities before getting around to Jesus, but, instead of telling Jesus to wait just a minute, without a thought for anything in front of him, “leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.” The miracle recorded today is that Levi forgot. Levi forgot about the work he was doing. He forgot about the money he had collected. He forgot about whoever was next in line at the customs post. He forgot about his own interest and followed Jesus.
Again, not everyone can drop what they are doing to follow Jesus. Not everyone, but some can. Could you, like Levi, forget everything, leave it all behind and follow Jesus? Perhaps, like the rich young man, you would need to sell everything, close up shop, and then follow Jesus. Perhaps you are already where you belong, and what is left is to wake up every day and follow Jesus by doing your work with great love. The main thing is to follow Jesus, completely abandoned to his will, not doing what seems good in our own mind but having the mind of Christ.