Christ tells us that, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9:13 and Mark 2:17). Throughout the Gospels, we see that Christ, as the True Physician of Souls & Bodies, does in fact call sinners to repentance, He calls those who are spiritually sick to work with Him so that He can make them spiritually well. In Luke 7:36-50, Christ accepts the repentance of the Sinful Woman who anointed His feet with her tears and precious anointment. In Luke 19:1-10, Christ accepts to be the guest in the home of Zacchaeus, and upon hearing that Zacchaeus say that if he had taken anything from anyone by false accusation, he would restore fourfold (Luke 19:8), Christ tells him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:9-10). This is how it is throughout the Gospels; Christ comes to save those who had been lost. One such example of a person, who we learn about in Saturday’s Gospel in Mark 2:14-17 (See parallel Gospel in Matthew 9:9–13), who would have been lost, had Christ not called Him, is the Apostle Matthew who had been previously called Levi. Just like Apostle Paul, who had previously been Saul, Levi was renamed Matthew. With their conversions to Christ, not only came a new life but a new name. We see this concept even in the Old Testament, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham (Genesis 17:5). We see this today even with those who convert to Orthodox Christianity, often they change their name also. So with a renewed life in Christ God, comes a new Christian name (this for many of us this happened as babies at our Baptisms and or the Service of the 8th Day Blessing, eight days after our birth).
Apostle Paul reminds us that we are to put off our “… old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the spirit of your minds” (Ephesians 4:22-23). When Levi’s and Saul’s names were changed to Matthew and Paul, when they became Christians, it means they were renewed in Christ Jesus. It means that when Christ called them, they learnt repentance which the Prayer of the Trisagion Hymn in the Divine Liturgy, tell us has been set as the way of salvation. This means that repentance is both therapeutic and medicinal for our mind (νοῦς). In fact, the word for repentance in Greek is μετάνοια which means to change one’s mind—to always choose Christ instead of sin. In the Prayer Of Simeon Metaphrastes, which is often recited to thank God after receiving Holy Communion, we pray, “[O Lord] mark me as Your dwelling place, of the [Holy] Spirit only and no longer a place of sin.”
May through this journey of Great Lent, we also be renewed in the spirit of our minds in Christ Jesus, as were both Apostles Matthew and Paul.