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Rev. Mark Watson/Pastor

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THE GOSPEL OF LUKE

On December 1, 2018, the First Sunday of Advent, we began a new year in the Church.  During this year, we will hear the Gospel of Luke at Sunday Masses.  Thus this article focusses on the meaning of the Gospel of Luke.  I hope this will help you better understand the Gospel that we will hear proclaimed each weekend.

But before I lay out the meaning of this Gospel I would like to thank so many for the very kind Christmas gifts that you gave me.  I have been touched not only by gifts but by the kind messages that many wrote.  Many parishioners gave me baked items which I am still enjoying. Each of the gifts that I received is special and I am very appreciative of each one.  I want to thank everyone who gave me a gift this year.  I am most appreciative of the relationships that I have with the parishioners of Christ the King.  May God bless each of you and your families.

The Gospel of Luke is the first volume of a two-volume set of writings.  The second volume is entitled the Acts of the Apostles.  The Gospel of Luke tells the story of the birth, life, death , nd resurrection of Jesus.  The book of the Acts of the Apostles tells the story of the beginning of the early church and especially focusses on the ministry of Saints Peter and Paul.

It is believed that the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles was a companion of St. Paul.  It is not known where Luke wrote his Gospel and the book of Acts.  It is believed that both were written for people of Greek heritage who were Gentile (not Jewish).  Luke himself was probably a Gentile and had been trained in Greek rhetoric or writing.  He wrote the two editions from approximately 80 AD to 85 AD.

The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles are histories of the life of Jesus and the development of the early church.  Luke writes to Gentiles in order to show that God fulfilled His promise of salvation to the Jews and is now inviting the Gentiles to salvation through Jesus Christ.

Luke is very adept at storytelling.  Only in Luke’s Gospel do we find stories such as the parable of the rich fool  (12:16-21), Lazarus and Dives (16:19-31), the Good Samaritan (10:30-35) and the Prodigal Son (15:11-32).  While these stories are placed in the mouth of Jesus, they were probably shaped by Luke himself.  Luke weaves the stories together to form an orderly account of the life of Jesus and the beginning of the church.

Important Themes

Geography and Journey – Central to the Gospel of Luke is the theme of journey. The central location of both books is Jerusalem.  The majority of the Gospel portrays the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem.  After the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples wait in Jerusalem until they receive the Holy Spirit and from there they bring the message of salvation to the ends of the earth.

Prophecy – Luke shows both that Jesus is a prophetic Messiah who speaks the word of God as he brings God’s visitation to His people.  The Gospel of Luke and Acts show that the life of Jesus and the life of the early Church fulfill biblical prophecy.  Jesus is shown to be prophetic as his promises are fulfilled in both the Gospel and Acts.

The Great Reversal – In the Gospel of Luke those who are powerful, rich and “have consolation” within society and who seek on that basis to “justify themselves” respond to Jesus with “testing” and rejection.  They are “cast down” or “humbled” and in the end “cut off from the people.”  In contrast, those ordinarily deemed unworthy, lowly, marginal, or even outcast, are accepted by God.  They are “raised up” and become part of the restored people of God.

Salvation – Jesus was sent to bring salvation to his people.  Jesus is sent by God to save the lost.  This is clearly seen in the parables of forgiveness in chapter 15: the lost coin, the lost sheep and the Prodigal Son.

Conversion – The idea of repentance or changing one’s mind and heart is central to the Gospel of Luke.  Before Jesus comes on the scene John the Baptist calls people to turn back to God.  In the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul turns his entire life back to God.

The Response of Faith – Those who respond to the prophet are called to be men and women of faith.  Faith in the Gospel of Luke combines obedient hearing of the Word of God and patient endurance.  Faith is a commitment of the whole person which can grow and mature.

A blessed week to all!  Fr. Mark

(This article is based on the introduction in the Sacra Pagina commentary of the Gospel of Luke.)