Third Sunday (Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21)
This Sunday we finally begin our reading of the Gospel of Luke, the gospel laid down to be read in Year C. There are two separate passages in today’s gospel reading. We begin with the opening four verses of chapter 1, in which the evangelist sets down his method of working and his intention. Luke tells us that other evangelists have already written gospels. His sources are eyewitnesses of Jesus, and those who have preached the gospel. Luke assures Theophilus, to whom the gospel is addressed, and all who hear or read it, that the gospel is trustworthy.
Luke begins the story of Jesus’ ministry with his visit to the synagogue in Nazareth. Jesus reads from the book of Isaiah at the sabbath service and declares that the text he reads is being fulfilled. Luke wants us to recognise that Jesus is the long-awaited anointed one of God (the Messiah, the Christ). He brings ‘good news to the poor’, not those who have little in a worldly sense, but those who recognise their poverty in the sight of God, their need of God. Luke is already answering the question ‘Who is Jesus?’ The Nazareth story will continue next week.
What can we deduce from this gospel about how the gospels came to be written?
What do you understand by the word ‘fulfilment’?
Let us pray that our hearts will be open to new insights as we begin reading Luke.
Let us pray that we ourselves may be ‘good news to the poor’.
Fourth Sunday (Luke 4:21-30)
The story of Jesus’ visit to Nazareth, which we began reading last week, is placed by Luke at the very start of Jesus’ ministry. The people are delighted by the ‘gracious words’, literally ‘the words of grace’, which he spoke. Quite suddenly, the atmosphere changes, and Jesus challenges the people’s expectations. He knows that their approval is superficial. Prophets are generally rejected by their own.
Jesus illustrates this be referring to the two Old Testament prophets. Elijah and Elisha. Elijah encountered persecution in Israel and both prophets performed mighty works for those who were not Jews. Jesus stresses that the healing mercy of God is for all. The people of Nazareth react in annoyance, reject their own prophet and threaten physical violence.
Luke anticipates here the different reactions to the preaching of Jesus found in the rest of the gospel. Acceptance, rejection and violence will all be present.
What is my reaction to the preaching of Jesus?
Have I ever experienced being ‘a prophet rejected by his own people’?
We ask that Jesus’ words of grace will heal all bitterness an resentment.,
We ask that we ourselves may be ‘good news’ to the stranger.
Fr Adrian Graffy