Jesus noticed a tax collector, Levi by name, sitting by the customs house, and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And leaving everything he got up and followed him.
In his honour Levi held a great reception in his house, and with them at table was a large gathering of tax collectors and others. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples and said, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus said to them in reply, ‘It is not those who are well who need the doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the virtuous, but sinners to repentance.’
Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church
JESUS AND ISRAEL’S FAITH IN THE ONE GOD AND SAVIOR
587 If the Law and the Jerusalem Temple could be occasions of opposition to Jesus by Israel’s religious authorities, his role in the redemption of sins, the divine work par excellence, was the true stumbling-block for them.
588 Jesus scandalized the Pharisees by eating with tax collectors and sinners as familiarly as with themselves. Against those among them “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others”, Jesus affirmed: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” He went further by proclaiming before the Pharisees that, since sin is universal, those who pretend not to need salvation are blind to themselves.
589 Jesus gave scandal above all when he identified his merciful conduct toward sinners with God’s own attitude toward them. He went so far as to hint that by sharing the table of sinners he was admitting them to the messianic banquet. But it was most especially by forgiving sins that Jesus placed the religious authorities of Israel on the horns of a dilemma. Were they not entitled to demand in consternation, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” By forgiving sins Jesus either is blaspheming as a man who made himself God’s equal, or is speaking the truth and his person really does make present and reveal God’s name.
590 Only the divine identity of Jesus’ person can justify so absolute a claim as “He who is not with me is against me”; and his saying that there was in him “something greater than Jonah,. . . greater than Solomon”, something “greater than the Temple”; his reminder that David had called the Messiah his Lord, and his affirmations, “Before Abraham was, I AM”, and even “I and the Father are one.”
591 Jesus asked the religious authorities of Jerusalem to believe in him because of the Father’s works which he accomplished. But such an act of faith must go through a mysterious death to self, for a new “birth from above” under the influence of divine grace. Such a demand for conversion in the face of so surprising a fulfillment of the promises allows one to understand the Sanhedrin’s tragic misunderstanding of Jesus: they judged that he deserved the death sentence as a blasphemer. The members of the Sanhedrin were thus acting at the same time out of “ignorance” and the “hardness” of their “unbelief”.
For the leader. A psalm of the Korahites.
You once favored, LORD, your land, restored the good fortune of Jacob.
You forgave the guilt of your people, pardoned all their sins. Selah
You withdrew all your wrath, turned back your burning anger.
Restore us once more, God our savior; abandon your wrath against us.
Will you be angry with us forever, drag out your anger for all generations?
Please give us life again, that your people may rejoice in you.
Show us, LORD, your love; grant us your salvation.
I will listen for the word of God; surely the LORD will proclaim peace To his people, to the faithful, to those who trust in him.
Near indeed is salvation for the loyal; prosperity will fill our land.
Love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss.
Truth will spring from the earth; justice will look down from heaven.
The LORD will surely grant abundance; our land will yield its increase.
Prosperity will march before the Lord, and good fortune will follow behind.
Source: The New American Bible
The Servite Order is one of the five original Catholic mendicant orders. Its objectives are the sanctification of its members, preaching the Gospel, and the propagation of devotion to the Mother of God, with special reference to her sorrows. The members of the Order use O.S.M. (Ordo Servorum Beatae Mariae Virginis) as their post-nominal letters. The male members are known as Servite Friars or Servants of Mary.
The Order of Servants of Mary (The Servites) religious family includes friars (priests and brothers), contemplative nuns, a congregation of active sisters, and lay groups.
The Servites lead a community life in the tradition of the mendicant orders (such as the Dominicans and Franciscans). The Servite Order was founded in 1233 AD when a group of cloth merchants of Florence, Italy, left their city, families, and professions to retire to Monte Senario, a mountain outside the city, for a life of poverty and penance. These men are known as the Seven Holy Founders; they were canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1888.
These seven were: Buonfiglio dei Monaldi (Bonfilius), Giovanni di Buonagiunta (Bonajuncta), Amadeus of the Amidei (Bartolomeus), Ricovero dei Lippi-Ugguccioni (Hugh), Benedetto dell’ Antella (Manettus), Gherardino di Sostegno (Sostene), and Alessio de’ Falconieri (Alexius). They belonged to seven patrician families of that city. As a reflection of the penitential spirit of the times, it had been the custom of these men to meet regularly as members of a religious society established in honor of Mary, the Mother of God.
From the beginning, the members of the Order dedicated themselves to Mary under her title of Mother of Sorrows. Dedicating their devotion to the mother of Jesus, they adopted Mary’s virtues of hospitality and compassion as the order’s hallmarks. The distinctive spirit of the order is the sanctification of its members by meditation on the Passion of Jesus and the Sorrows of Mary, and spreading abroad this devotion.
The Bishop of Florence approved the Friar Servants of Mary as a religious Order sometime between the years 1240 and 1247. The Servants decided to live by the Rule of St. Augustine, and added to the Rule their own expression of Marian devotion and dedication. By 1250 there were a number of Servants who were ordained to the priesthood, thus creating an Order with priests as well as brothers.
Pope Alexander IV, favored a plan for the amalgamation of all institutes following the Rule of St. Augustine. This was accomplished in March 1256, and about the same time a Rescript was issued confirming the Order of the Servites as a separate body with power to elect a general. Four years later a general chapter was convened at which the order was divided into two provinces, Tuscany and Umbria, the former of which St. Manettus directed, while the latter was given into the care of St. Sostene. Within five years two new provinces were added: Romagna and Lombardy.
Suppression and expansion
St. Philip Benizi was elected general on 5 June 1267, and afterwards became the great propagator of the order. The Second Council of Lyons in 1274 put into execution the ordinance of the Fourth Lateran Council, forbidding the foundation of new religious orders, and suppressed all mendicant institutions not yet approved by the Holy See. In the year 1276 Pope Innocent V in a letter to St. Philip declared the order suppressed. St. Philip proceeded to Rome, but before his arrival there Innocent V had died. His successor lived but five weeks. Finally Pope John XXI, decided that the order should continue as before. It was not definitively approved until Pope Benedict XI issued the Bull “Dum levamus” (11 February 1304). Of the seven founders, St. Alexis alone lived to see their foundation raised to the dignity of an order. He died in 1310.
Pope Boniface IX granted the Servites the power to confer theological degrees on 30 January 1398, and the order established the Marianum in Rome.
The new foundation enjoyed considerable growth in the following decades. Even in the thirteenth century there were houses of the order in Germany, France, and Spain. Early in the fourteenth century the order had more than one hundred convents including branch houses in Hungary, Bohemia, Austria, Poland, and Belgium; there were also missions in Crete, the Philippines (St. Peregrine-Philippine Vicariate), and India.
The disturbances during the Protestant Reformation caused the loss of many Servite convents in Germany, but in the south of France the order met with much success. The Convent of Santa Maria in Via (1563) was the second house of the order established in Rome; San Marcello al Corso had been founded in 1369. Early in the eighteenth century the order sustained losses and confiscations from which it has scarcely yet recovered. The flourishing Province of Narbonne was almost totally destroyed by the plague which swept Marseilles in 1720. In 1783 the Servites were expelled from Prague and in 1785 Emperor Joseph II desecrated the shrine of Maria Waldrast. Ten monasteries were suppressed in Spain in 1835. A new foundation was made at Brussels in 1891.
After the Risorgimento in 1870, the government of Italy closed the Marianum along with many other papal institutions. The institute was re-founded as the College of Sant Alessio Falcioneri in 1895.
At this period the order was introduced into England and America, chiefly through the efforts of Fathers Bosio and Morini. The latter, having gone to London in 1864 as director of the affiliated Sisters of Compassion, obtained charge of a parish from Archbishop Manning in 1867. His work prospered; besides St. Mary’s Priory at London, convents were opened at Bognor Regis (1882) and Begbroke (1886). In 1870 Fathers Morini, Ventura, Giribaldi, and Brother Joseph Camera, at the request of Bishop Joseph Melcher of Green Bay, Wisconsin, took up a mission in America, at Neenah. Father Morini founded at Chicago (1874) the monastery of Our Lady of Sorrows. A novitiate was opened at Granville, Wisconsin, in 1892. The American province was formally established in 1908.
The order continued to expand geographically throughout the twentieth century, taking responsibility for missions in Swaziland in 1913, Acre in Brazil in 1919, Aisén in Chile in 1937, and Zululand in South Africa. It also made foundations in Argentina from 1914 and more solidly since 1921; Transvaal in South Africa since 1935, Uruguay 1939, Bolivia 1946, Mexico 1948, Australia 1951,Venezuela 1952, Colombia 1953, India 1974, Mozambique 1984, Philippines 1985, Uganda, Albania 1993, and also the refoundations in Hungary (Eger) and the Czech Republic.
Pope Pius XII, through the Congregation of Seminaries and Universities, elevated the Marianum to a pontifical theological faculty on 30 November 1950.
After the Second Vatican Council, the order renewed its Constitutions starting with its 1968 general chapter at Majadahonda, Madrid, a process which was concluded in 1987. In the same year, Prior General Michael M. Sincerny oversaw the creation of the International Union of the Servite Family (UNIFAS).
The twentieth century also saw the beatification (1952) and the canonization of Friar Antonio Maria Pucci; the canonization of Clelia Barbieri (d. 1870), foundress of the Minime dell’Addolorata; the beatification of Ferdinando Maria Baccilieri of the Servite Secular Order (1999); the beatification of Sr. Maria Guadalupe Ricart Olmos (2001), a Spanish cloistered nun who was martyred during the Spanish Civil War; and the beatification of Cecelia Eusepi of the Servite Secular Order.
Through the centuries, the Servite Order has spread throughout the world, including all of Europe, parts of Africa, Australia, the Americas, India, and the Philippines. The general headquarters of the Servite Order is in Rome, while many provinces and motherhouses represent the Order throughout the world. In the United States there is one province of friars with headquarters in Chicago. There are four provinces of sisters with motherhouses in Wisconsin, Nebraska, and two in Illinois.