The Gospel of Luke is the third and last of the “synoptic” Gospels. Along with Matthew and Mark, the Gospel of Luke seeks to tell the story of Jesus’ life in a fairly similar sequence, often with somewhat similar wording. In fact, almost half of the content of the books of Luke and Matthew are found in the book of Mark, and about a quarter of the content of Matthew and Luke are the same, though independent of Mark. The book of John is also one of the Gospels, however it does tell the story of Jesus in quite the same order as the others for various reasons mostly relating to the purpose of John’s writing and his audience. These “discrepancies” are sometimes sighted as a way of showing that the Gospels are not entirely reliable when it comes to the facts and timeline of Jesus’ life. However, in many ways this is similar to having four people that were at an event tell you about their experience, not one would be exactly the same as the other, but all would be true from their particular perspective. If you combine this with the differences in purpose for writing these Gospels, I think that we are blessed in that we can see a several different perspectives of Jesus’ life and ministry, all working together to give us a more in depth view of our Savior.
Though we don’t really know much about Luke as a person, tradition holds that he was a doctor and a contemporary of Paul. It is also likely that he was a Gentile Christian convert, not an eyewitness to the life of Jesus, but who did considerable research into His life and ministry. If Mark was the “News Report” version of Jesus’ life, Luke would be the documentary. Luke is the longest of the Gospels, and has really contains the most detail. Apart from the Gospel of John, Luke also holds within its texts, the highest percentage of unique material of the four Gospels. Connected to this book is the book of Acts, which we could call “2nd Luke” because it is a continuation of the story as the Apostles transition into the early Church after Jesus is taken to heaven.
Our reading today begins the narratives of both John the Baptist and Jesus, talking about their conception and the miraculous events surrounding them If you read closely the story of Zechariah, you’ll notice several similarities between his story and the story of Abraham and the birth of Isaac. Both are hold and have barren wives who miraculously conceive in an advanced age. Both births are foretold by God and are doubted by those that hear them. More than this though, both births signal the fulfillment of God’s word in both the Covenant and the Prophets and show the reader that God is at work and on the move in a way that only God can be.
Luke 1 also contains the Magnificat, Mary’s song of praise for all that has been going on. Take a moment to think about all that had been going on in Mary’s life. She had been taken out of her ordinary existence and thrust into the very center of God’s working on earth. She had been visited by Gabriel, one of the Archangels that has been in the very presence of God almighty. She now is carrying a baby, still a virgin, of whom she has been told that “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” What is her reaction in all of this? A song of praise to God for all that has happened. While she could have been afraid, uncertain, and even upset, she recognizes that God is doing something in her life and she trusts Him, and lifts up this song of praise, one of my favorite in the Bible:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.“
- The Synoptic Gospels (aesullivan77.wordpress.com)
- St. Luke (saintpatrickk.com)
- Jesus in the Gospel of Luke (insightscoop.typepad.com)
- Being a Theophilus (daramarquez.wordpress.com)
- A Catholic Laiety Intepretation of the Gospel of Luke (henryfaith.wordpress.com)
- Luke 1:26-38 (oh-mag.com)
- Luke 1:57-80 – The Birth of John (genebrooks.blogspot.com)
- Luke 1:1-25 – Birth of John Foretold (genebrooks.blogspot.com)
- Elizabeth – the barren one. (nothinglikeadane.wordpress.com)
- Luke 1:5-25 (oh-mag.com)