Luke, it may surprise you to learn, was not one of the Apostles. In fact, he wasn't even Jewish. He was a Gentile, a non-Jewish person, who was converted to the Christian faith by St. Paul during one of his missionary journeys. So Luke is exactly like us. He never met Jesus or heard him speak or saw a miracle. He came to faith based upon the testimony of others and through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Luke then took it upon himself to write down all the things he learned in a detailed and historical fashion to help Theophilus and others know about who Jesus is and why he matters.
During our second week, we focused on Mary in Luke's Gospel. Luke gives more attention to Mary than any other Gospel writer. In fact, most of what we know about Mary and the foundations for our Church's teaching on Mary comes from Luke's Gospel. For Luke, Mary is the first true disciple. She is unwavering in her trust in the goodness of God. Her fiat, her "yes" to God, allows Jesus to be conceived in her and begins God's work of redemption. She is present for all of the major moments in the life of her Son and ponders these events in heart. Mary is reflective, prayerful and discerning, all of the qualities necessary for discipleship.
This past week, we looked at women in Luke's Gospel. Luke mentions women more than any of the other Gospel writers. In fact, he has 23 unique stories in his Gospel that center around women. Luke is showing that women have a role to play in the Christian community. Jesus' interactions with women defy the normal religious and social expectations of his day. He speaks with women in public and recognizes their dignity, their faith and the gifts they have to offer. Jesus doesn't give in to social or religious attitudes of the time that view certain women as unclean or worthy of punishment. Instead, he shows women great compassion and mercy. Luke also makes it clear at multiple points that Jesus had disciples who were women. Certain women traveled with him and the 12 apostles from village to village, listened to his teachings and even supported his ministry with their own money. And women were the first witnesses to the Resurrection.
Our last Bible Study sessions will be this Tuesday at 6:15 pm and Wednesday at 9:00 am. I encourage everyone to come and join us, as we will be discussing universal salvation in Luke's Gospel. We will be looking at passages that highlight the faith and conversion of traditional outsiders: the Roman Centurion, the Good Samaritan and the poor who suffer. Luke himself was an outsider, so he has a particular passion for showing how Jesus extends the Kingdom to those on the periphery of society. No prior preparation is necessary-we read passages together during the session. It should be a great discussion! I hope you will join us.