UNBORN WORD of the day


A TRIBUTE TO ST. LUKE FOR HIS INFANCY NARRATIVES
October 16, 2007, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Saints, The Incarnation

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Michele Tosini (1503-77) St. Luke

October 18 is the feast day of St. Luke.

In chapters One and Two of the Gospel of St. Luke we have 127 verses of narrative concerning the infancy and childhood of Jesus Christ and mysteries surrounding His infancy (Lk 1:5 – 2:52). These verses are unique to Luke and outline the earliest vignettes known about the childhood of Jesus Christ. The verses restricted to the infancy period are slightly less: 114 verses (Lk 1:5 – Lk 2:39).

The extraordinary account of the Annunciation to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel, for example, is presented only in Luke and no where else. Likewise, the remarkable Visitation event (and Magnificat “song”) and Bethlehem birth saga are Lukan treasures only. Which might lead us to wonder how would Christianity be different if there was no Luke? Would we celebrate Christmas? (Matthew also provides 47 verses of invaluable introductory information as well concerning Mary, Joseph and Jesus, before and after the birth. Mt 1:18 – 2:23)

We are indebted to Luke in a thousand ways, but especially for the first two chapters of his Gospel which are in a way a “prologue”, comparable to the famous “Prologue” to the Gospel of John (Jn 1:1-18): “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God…” But while the Prologue of John is about Mysteries and realities concerning the Word Incarnate, this “prologue” of Luke’s is focused on biological and historical events which reveal the Child Incarnate. While John is mystical, Luke is highly personal yet supernatural. All of this is to say that, the Incarnation Mystery of faith is so wondrous, that we need both Luke and John to unfold for us its beauty and reality. We can listen to John’s Prologue and see it with the eyes of the heart, but Luke’s we visualize all in fabulous images.

But it is only Luke who reveals to us the babyhood of Jesus and the attendant mysteries thereto. Luke is one of the Church’s great “Pro – Life” saints! There is no way around it. He alone tells of the conception of Jesus Christ, paints for us the tender mother who opens up her heart and soul to God’s plan and Spirit, then recounts the mysterious encounter between pregnant mothers and unborn children and finally recounts in all its poverty and glory the birth of humankind’s Savior in a manger.

St. Luke we thank you for the little details you carefully recorded about our Savior’s first nine months in the womb and then in the manger. You, St. Luke, have brought more tears of joy to human eyes than any other author in human history. You have revealed to us the mother of the baby Jesus and have transported us in our thoughts to kneel beside the beasts and shepherds, beneath the angels’ meditative gaze. It was first your descriptive words which gave rise to those Christmas hymns we sing now that cause our hearts to bow down in adoration again.

St. Luke, when we see you in heaven, we will get in that very long reception line of pro-life Christians who want to shake your hand, the hand which wrote down the sacred events of our Savior’s babyhood, events which gave us hope for all our earthly days.

George A. Peate, Unborn Word Alliance

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El Greco (1541-1614) St. Luke (detail)

 



2 Comments so far
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Michele,

Thank you for this very interesting post. I also enjoy how you’ve laid out your page, with all images.

The differences between the Gospels of Luke and of John are notable, as are differences within just the synoptic Gospels. John presents Jesus as co-eternal with God the Father and equal in Godhead. Also, Christ is in control until the end (notice no Johannine mention of Simon of Cyrene helping to carry the Cross), and the Cross itself is glorious. Between the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus about being ‘born again’, and the more famous passage, John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He gave his only Son…”, Jesus speaks of being ‘lifted up’ to glory, an unmistakable reference to the Passion.

Luke, too, focuses on the Passion and Resurrection. While Luke is meant to be more of a sequential history, according to a Basilian priest I spoke with recently the Lukan Gospel is as if it were arranged in reverse- the Evangelist likely worked backwards from the Resurrection to the Nativity to prior to the birth of John the Baptist.

Another perspective (the one I favour) is that Luke is written for a Greek audience. Theophilus (Greek for ‘lover of God’) is the first person named in Luke. This could have been an actual name, a pseudonym, or a designation of a group of Greek-speaking Christians, collectively ‘lovers of God.’ As he was writing to Greeks, this is likely why Luke’s account is so appealing to visual learners compared to the other Gospels. By contrast, St. Mark presents Jesus as a ‘suffering servant’ and is concise and criticizes the Jewish religious leaders and even the Apostles more harshly. Matthew, to a Jewish audiences, shows Jesus as the ‘new Adam’, a theme picked up on by St. Paul, who blends this with themes directed at the Greek culture. Matthew starts with a genealogy, tying Jesus into Israel’s royal lineage from King David. Luke, though, presents his genealogy only later. See my post on the Lukan genealogy. All my posts on Luke are sequential from the beginning of his Gospel, under the category ‘Gospel of Luke’. My next post will be on the Transfiguration. I’m glad you alluded Luke being a more visual Gospel. This is definitely shown in the Transfiguration narrative, so I was going to write my next article on Luke on precisely the ‘visual learning’ theme. I agree that the whole Lukan account is very ‘pro-life’. It’s a great story I feel blessed to learn and to blog about.

Thank you for checking out and commenting on my blog, and for your time. God Bless,

Warren

Comment by canadiancatholicblog

…Also please excuse the many typos in my last comment.

Warren

Comment by canadiancatholicblog




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