Annually, on the Wednesday of Holy Week, Father Tony breaks down the Gospel narrative for the Passion we will experience throughout the Triduum. This year, we will be hearing the Gospel of Luke. Father Tony went through the entire Gospel reading with us, verse by verse. It was an intense form of lectio divina, but gave us a real opportunity to look at this Gospel with fresh eyes.
The first area to note is Luke's Gospel is addressed to a specific person, who mostly likely was meant to be representative of us all: Theopolis, or Lover of God. Luke, as a man, was most likely not a Jew, but a Syrian from Antioch. He was likely to have been a second-generation convert to Christianity. His conversion would have been from his life as a pagan. He was unlikely to have been a Jew.The focus of his writings, which, in addition to the Gospel, included the Acts of the Apostles, were designed to help people be aware of what they should do between the comings of Jesus.
Luke's Gospel provides more information about the women who followed Jesus than any other Gospel. Also, Luke paid significantly more attention to the compassion of our Lord as He addressed the needs of the lonely, the outcast and the afflicted. Finally, he focused on everyone's need of the redemptive power of God's saving grace.
Over and over through these passages, we see Jesus acting as Jesus in the face of increasing tension, challenges, and ultimately His pain and death. We see this compassion as the servant of the one coming to imprison Him has his ear cut off by Peter. In the midst of Jesus' agony in the garden, he heals the injured. We see this compassion as Jesus looks at Peter after Peter's third denial. This simple glance pushes Peter to his sorrowful repentance and return to Jesus. We see this compassion as Jesus tells the repentant thief, while they are hanging from their Crosses, that He will see him this day in paradise. This is the same compassion we have seen from Jesus for the woman at the well, the woman who was condemned for adultery, the child of the centurion, and all the others he had healed during his ministry.
As the Gospel narrative moves forward, we see many direct scriptural quotes which are used in the Stations of the Cross we pray throughout Lent: Luke 22:26 where Simon of Cyrene is pressed into service (the 5th Station), Luke 22:29 where Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem (the 8th Station) Luke 22:46 where Jesus dies on the Cross (the 12th Station), and finally, Luke 22:59, where Jesus is placed in the new tomb of Joseph of Arimathea's tomb (the 14th Station). These are not just clever stories, made up to tell the stories, but witnessed experiences, carrying centuries forward to help us relive those final moments of the Lord.
Jesus' willingness to pick up His Cross and go to His death shows His true self so clearly that even a centurion, another pagan, witnesses his actions and comes to faith. We are extended this same invitation: to enter into Jesus' Passion, Death and Entombment to prepare us for Jesus' glorious resurrection on Easter morning.