The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Catholic Scripture Manual on Mark 2:13-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 31, 2016

Text in red, if any, are my additions.

Mar 2:13 And he went forth again to the sea side: and all the multitude came to him. And he taught them.

He went forth, from the home in Capharnaum (Capernuam) to the sea-shore.

Mar 2:14 And when he was passing by, he saw Levi, the son of Alpheus, sitting at the receipt of custom; and he saith to him: Follow me. And rising up, he followed him.

Levi. This was St Matthew s name before his call to the Apostleship. In like manner, Simon received the name of Peter, and Saul’s name was changed to Paul.

son of Alpheus. Not the same as Alpheus the father of St James the
Less. In the lists of the Apostles, St Matthew and St James the Less
are never classed together, whereas in the case of Apostles who were brothers, the names follow one another.

receipt of custom. The toll-house where taxes on exports and imports were levied. Capharnaum was a thriving business town, whence roads to Tyre, Damascus and Jerusalem, etc., branched off (see Geog. Notes, p. 82).

sitting at the receipt of custom. Therefore Levi was one of the despised class of publicans, classed by the Jews with harlots, heathens and sinners. (See Publicans, Part IV.)

Follow me. Jesus called Levi in spite of his position and bad reputation. It is probable that Levi had previously heard of, or witnessed our Lord’s miracles, and also listened to His discourses, since Jesus had already wrought mighty works in and near Capharnaum.

Mar 2:15 And it came to pass as he sat at meat in his house, many Publicans and sinners sat down together with Jesus and his disciples. For they, with Jesus who also followed him. For they were many, who also followed him.

as he sat at meat in his house. St Luke tells us that Levi made him a great feast in his own house; and there was a great company of
publicans and of others, that were at table with them (St Luke 5:29). It was doubtless a farewell banquet to his old friends, publicans and sinners.

Mar 2:16 And the scribes and the Pharisees, seeing that he ate with publicans and sinners, said to his disciples: Why doth your master eat and drink with publicans and sinners?

seeing that he ate, etc. These Pharisees would not, of course, have sat down and eaten with Levi and his friends, for this would have rendered them “unclean” according to their traditions. They merely came in, as the Oriental custom permitted, to watch the feast.

sinners. Lax Jews, not necessarily Gentiles.

said to his disciples. They may have feared to address our Lord directly, or thought it would be easy to triumph over His disciples, whom they knew to be poor, ignorant men.

Mar 2:17 Jesus hearing this, saith to them: They that are well have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. For I came not to call the just, but sinners.

I came not to call, etc. Jesus explains that He frequented sinners that He might convert them, just as a physician visits the sick that he may heal them.

to call the just, said ironically to the Pharisees who were “just” in
their own estimation. Also Jesus was always ready to leave the ninety-nine that He might seek the sheep that was lost (see Mt 18:12-14; Lk 15:3-7).

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