Levi is snuffing out the candles and it’s about to be pitch black. The disciples and others are feeling a little weird because Jesus has asked them to spend the night IN THE HOUSE OF A TAX COLLECTOR! People of all sorts are scattered throughout Levi’s villa in Capernaum.
Today was his last day as a tax collector.
Levi: Anybody need a cover or something? Bathroom’s out back, to the left. There’s water in the icebox.
Peter: Jesus, you know we (motioning toward the other disciples) can stay at my house, nearer the water… (mumbles to himself) ‘Levi’s’ villa — ‘Taker’s’ villa — got that right.
Jesus: We’re fine Peter. Besides this place is bigger and cleaner than your place. Smell the lavender?
Nathaniel: Is it good for us to be in this place all night? What will the neighbors think? There are women here…and the Pharisees — they’ll talk about this forever.
Pharisee: I heard that! I’m taking names!
Jesus (with authority): Everybody! Listen up! This is a good place and a good time. Follow my instructions. Be absolutely quiet. (They hear the sound of nightingales, trickling water, a breeze through the hall and crickets.)
Now, here’s complete silence… (and the room goes completely silent — no sounds at all — eerily quiet).
Peter (uncomfortably): Master, please quote us some Isaiah…or, what’re tomorrow’s plans? Fishin’?
Jesus: Shhh. Turn off all the noise and listen. Open your eyes and see the nothing around you.
They all lie in absolute silence in the darkness. A deep, holy peace settles on the group.
Jesus (quietly): Before the universe was created, there was this. Nothing. And it was all God — the Father, Spirit and me. And it was all NOW. We made everything, placed it in time, and it still didn’t fill us up. There’s still more nothing than something out there — you cannot comprehend. Plus, all past, present and future are only perceived now. NOW. Everything is the lessor part of me!
Peter: I’m lost.
Jesus: Exactly. My gift to you is now. Enjoy it. When you cancel out all the noise, ideas, distractions — everything. What’s left is you and me. In my emptiness I bestow the deepest peace and love for which you might hope. When you are lost, I am found. When you are empty, I am there. When you are full, I am there. I am. My presence is a consuming fire! You lose and find yourself in me.
Levi (thoughtfully): So, no matter where we find ourselves and no matter the circumstances, we have the gift of ‘now’ from you if we shut out all the noise and pay attention? Hmm. I’ll ‘take’ that, or my name’s not Levi!
Jesus (quietly smiling): Beginning now, I shall call you, ‘Matthew’ — ‘gift of God’ — your story will be a gift to many. In life or death — something or nothing. I am. And I am with you. The past no longer exists and the future has yet to come. Right NOW, I am with you. Do not neglect the salvation to be found in this moment. Follow me, Matthew.
Matthew: I do.
Jesus: Seek nothing more.
Tr8: Right now, experience Christ. Live him in this moment.