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Passages proper to Luke

Passages proper to Luke

Jesus Christ
Oral and written tradition
The Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel of Mark
The Gospel of Luke
The Gospel of John
The meaning for today

From ‘Notes on the Formation of the Gospels’, by John Wijngaards;
published in Background to the Gospels (Bangalore & Ann Arbor 1981)
and Together in My Name (London 1991).

Parables proper to Luke

In Luke’s edition of the Gospel we find preserved some of the most famous and moving parables spoken by Jesus:

the parable of the rich man who laid up treasures for himself --- Luke 12:13-21

the parable of the fig tree --- Luke 13:6-9

the parable of the man who built a tower --- Luke 14:28-30

the parable of the king who went to battle --- Luke 14:31-33

the parable of the lost drachma --- Luke 15:8-10

the parable of the prodigal son --- Luke 15:11-31

the parable of the unjust steward --- Luke 16:1-12

the parable of the rich man and Lazarus --- Luke 16:19-31

the parable of the useless servants --- Luke 17:7-10

the parable of the wicked judge --- Luke 18:1-8

the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector --- Luke 18:9-14

It will be noted that all these parables were put by Luke in the setting of the ‘Journey to Jerusalem’.

Stories involving women

Luke has also taken a particular interest in noting down words and deeds of Jesus concerning women. It may be that in the common catechetical teaching the role of women in the Church had not been sufficiently dealt with.

What was Jesus’ attitude towards women? Did they have a place in his affection and did they have a part to play in Jesus’ plan of salvation? Luke points out facts that speak for themselves:

The most blessed of all women is Mary, Jesus’ mother, whose greatness and vocation Luke comments on in a special way (Luke 1:26-56; 2:5-8; 34, 51; etc. cf. 11:27-28).

Elizabeth is spoken of with high esteem (Luke 1:5-6; 13, 26, 39-45; etc,), and so is the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36-38).

Jesus’ heart is filled with compassion for the widow of Naim (Luke 7:11-17).

Jesus converts and consoles Mary Magdalene (Luke 7:36-50).

Some pious women help Jesus in his ministry: Mary Magda lene, Joanna, Susanna and others (Luke 8:1-3).

Jesus teaches in the house of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42).

Jesus cures the poor woman who was bent over (Luke 13:38-42).

On his way to Calvary Jesus speaks to the weeping women of Jerusalem (Luke 23:27-31).

Luke also mentions the women known from Matthew and Mark: Peter’s mother-in-law (Luke 4:38-39), the woman with the flow of blood (Luke 8:43-48), the poor widow who offered two coins in the temple (Luke 21:14) and the women who witnessed Jesus’ passion (Luke 23:49) and resurrection (Luke 24:1-10).

No doubt Luke wanted to stress this aspect of Jesus’ ministry for pastoral reasons. The part played by Mary and other women in Jesus’ plan of salvation has been described so vividly by Luke that it is an in-exhaustible source of meditation and inspiration to our own day.

Jesus' kindness and love

Luke also merits our gratitude for having noted some special occurrences in Jesus’ life which characterize him as the loving saviour:

  • the conversion of Mary Magdalene (Luke 7:36-50);
  • the conversion of Zacheus (Luke 19:1-10);
  • Jesus’ weeping over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44; cf. 13:34-35);
  • Jesus’ prayer for his executioners (Luke 23:34);
  • Jesus’ promise to the good thief (Luke 23:3943);
  • Jesus’ conversation with the disciples going to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).

From the above survey we can understand that Luke has much valuable material which we do not find in the other Gospels.

He did not want to replace the common catechetical preaching, but he did want to supplement it. In this he certainly has succeeded very well. His contribution to our knowledge about Christ is great, indeed.

John Wijngaards

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