By Kathy Kuczka
This weekend, we begin a new liturgical year. That means we will be hearing proclamations from the third of a three-year cycle of Scripture readings, also known as cycle C. During this year, the gospel proclaimed is from the evangelist Luke. Luke is the only gospel writer who was not a Jew. He was believed to be Greek and was writing primarily to a community of Gentiles.
Perhaps because of his Gentile origin, and because he was well-traveled, Luke portrays a broadminded openness to all kinds of people. He champions the downtrodden and those on the fringes of society. In Luke’s gospel it is the poor and insignificant, e.g., Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, and the lowly shepherds who are chosen to receive God’s favor. The first time Luke’s Jesus teaches in public, he acknowledges those who are at the heart of his mission and preaching:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:14-19
Luke emphasizes the mercy of God with parables such as the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son, and with stories of Jesus eating with sinners and rejects. At every turn, Jesus was breaking bread with someone from the wrong side of town. This is one reason Luke’s gospel is known as the gospel of meals. As Jim Dunning in Echoing God’s Word, says: This gospel is like one, long progressive dinner. (Quoting Robert Karris) “Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal.” The climax of all the meal stories in Luke is the appearance of the resurrected Jesus to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. The disciples, who fail to recognize Jesus, eventually have their eyes opened in the “breaking of the bread.”
As we feast on Luke’s gospel this coming year, may we discover anew the God who prefers to dine with the broken and bruised, who keeps vigil until the lost have been found and who walks with us, step by step and hand in hand on our life’s journey.