Gospel Reflection Jan 27 – Fr. Morris
January 27, 2019
Sunday, January 27
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21
Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events
that have been fulfilled among us,
just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning
and ministers of the word have handed them down to us,
I too have decided,
after investigating everything accurately anew,
to write it down in an orderly sequence for you,
most excellent Theophilus,
so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings
you have received.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news of him spread throughout the whole region.
He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.
He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
St Luke gives us some great insights into how we can read the Holy Gospels as four different viewpoints of one singular Christ event. St Luke has been exposed to not only written histories of the events surrounding the Christ, but also the oral traditions of the eyewitnesses that are being conveyed around the early church. We can imagine the illiterate relying mainly on oral tradition, and the literate believers leaning on the written accounts. If we add in differences in geography and language, we can see how early believers would have an incomplete and fragmented picture of Jesus’ life and public ministry.
St Luke — generally accepted by tradition and scholars to have been a highly-educated Gentile doctor who converted — was probably frustrated by this state of things. And so, this trained scholar sets out to investigate everything afresh, gather and sort through disparate sources, and then arrange them in an accurate but readable account. St Luke becomes a source curator and narrative editor who rescues ordinary believers from being forced to wade through a giant hodge-podge of source materials. Christians could now just read his Gospel and know they have received a reliable account of the life and teachings of the Messiah.
We have within the text of Scripture itself an explanation for the four Gospels, and how they so often repeat each other verbatim but then disagree on small details or sequence of events. Four different authors, using common and different source material (their own first-hand experiences, oral eyewitness accounts, written narrative accounts), craft, organize, and write their own unique Gospels under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Rather than trying to harmonize the four Gospels into one consistent narrative or making hay out of minor discrepancies in detail or chronology, we should focus instead on what each Gospel communicates to us uniquely well. For God did not dictate one Gospel from heaven, but rather inspired four dissimilar human writers to compose four distinctive Gospels. With the eyes of faith, we begin to see the unique power and charism of each of the Gospel accounts.