Thursday, October 18, 2012

Luke and Love

Almighty God, who inspired your servant Luke the physician to declare in the Gospel the love and healing power of your Son: Graciously continue in your Church the same love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of your Name; through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.--Collect for St. Luke the Evangelist

Of the four gospels, I have often thought of the Gospel of Luke as the story of Jesus as told for the underdogs. This is where you get the famous parables of the Good Samaritan, and the Prodigal Son. And this is also the place where we witness the devotional love of Mary for Jesus as she sits at his feet in rapt attention, so much so that she isn't even conscious of Martha's complaint that Mary should get off her duff and get in the kitchen to help her.

In all of three of these stories from Luke, the evangelist let's us see the depth of Jesus' love for those who are in the margins of his society in First Century Palestine. Samaritans were hated; Jesus shows the Samaritan as the "good" one in the story because he aids the man left for dead on the road. How deep is the love of God the Father for the least and the lost; listen to Jesus talk of the return of the prodigal son to a father so pleased to see his wayward child come home when he thought he was gone forever.

And with the Martha and Mary story we can see Jesus taking on the role of mediator and advocate as he simply tells Martha that she is worried about "things" while Mary has chosen "the better part." That better part can be explained to be the contemplative path with a total focus on God and the ability to block out everything else.

I figure that Luke, as a Greek and thus an outsider himself, might have taken the approach he did to recording Jesus' actions as way of furthering the spread of the Good News to the Gentile population. There is power in seeing yourself in the story of Jesus Christ's ministry. It gives the sense of "He was my advocate, too."

And so as the Collect of St. Luke talks of the Church continuing this work of love and healing, I look to those who call themselves Christian to commit to opening the doors of their communities to those who don't look just like them,, have the same level of income, or sexual orientation and gender identity. This is the spirit embodied in the Luke version of Jesus: a love that knows no boundaries.

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