The first part of today’s gospel is far from riveting. A list of obscure Roman officials and a Jewish priest is not as compelling as the ministry of John the Baptist. Yet it is extremely important, and it is necessary for us to examine it closely because it tells us that Luke is writing a history of a Jewish prophet, indeed 2 prophets.
He first outlines the political geography of Jesus’ world, noting the date through the reign of the emperor and the emperor’s representative in every place that affected Jesus. He then adds the current local religious leader. This is critical. He does not begin with “once upon a time” or “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”. Luke is writing history and we must read his gospel and the acts of the apostles accordingly.
This is not a myth or legend which may give us a window into truth such as the first chapters of the book of Genesis. It tells the story of a real person, Jesus, who lived at a certain place, Judea and Galilee, who preached a message, the coming of the kingdom of God, and who was killed for this teaching. Should any of these not be factual, then Luke is either a dupe or a liar. His concept of writing history would not be the same as ours. The speeches for instance will all sound the same, because he will make them conform to certain rules. They are not verbatim, and would not be expected to be. But his audience knew what was important and could not be made up for any reason. His immediate audience would have especially understood that if Jesus did not literally die and rise this book is meaningless at best and malicious at worst.Continue reading “2nd Sunday of Advent – Homily (Fr. Smith)”