Luke’s Gospel emphasises the inclusivity of the Kingdom of God and Jesus, through His interactions with the marginalised in the society, conveyed that “all may call God Father”.
The gospel for the current liturgical year, C, is the focus of the first set of episodes of the Know Your Faith series which began on Monday, January 17 with a presentation on ‘Luke, a Gospel of Inclusivity’ by Denyse de Bourg, leader of the Bible study group at Church of the Incarnation, Maloney Gardens. The moderator was Angelo Kurbanali, from the Catholic Youth Commission.
The education series is hosted by the Catholic Religious Education Development Institute (CREDI) and the Office of Pastoral Planning and Development (OPPD) in collaboration with Catholic Media Services Ltd (CAMSEL). It is being carried on via CREDI’s, CatholicTT’s and Trinity TV’s Facebook pages and on Trinity TV at 8 p.m.
Luke was a physician, writing from the perspective of a Gentile to Gentile Christians in Greek, the dominant language at the time. De Bourg said he would have gotten additional information from Paul, a colleague and travelling companion, and details in the ‘Infancy narrative’ (chapters 1–2) could only have come from Mary.
De Bourg said inclusivity is shown in the approach taken to Jesus’ genealogy; Luke emphasises that Jesus came to save all people, all nations (Lk 19:19). Luke traced Jesus’ lineage to Adam, the first man and not just to Abraham, as Matthew did.
She added that from the start, Luke’s Gospel confronts the major sociopolitical tension of his time i.e., relations between the Jews and Gentiles, the non-Jews.
Simeon’s prophecy (Lk 2:32) to Mary was that Jesus would be a light for the Gentiles and the glory of the people of Israel. De Bourg stated, “Yes, the Jews were God’s people, but Jesus came to include Gentiles in God’s plan for salvation…Jesus did not confine His ministry to Jerusalem, which was the most important place for the Jews because the temple and the palace were there…much of the itinerant ministry was around the Sea of Galilee where the population was mainly Gentiles.”
The preferential option for the poor and marginalised in God’s plan for salvation can be seen in Luke’s version of the Our Father prayer (Lk 11:8). De Bourg continued, “And this Father who ordained that His son should be born in poverty, and whose poverty took Him around the countryside with nowhere to lay His head as Jesus said in 9:58.”
De Bourg highlighted other groups in society who were given prominence in Luke’s Gospel. Women are mentioned more times than the other synoptic gospels and they are named. She said naming attaches “importance to the person”.
Women provided for Jesus and His disciples (Lk 8:3); women followed Jesus as He experienced His Passion (23:49) and remained faithful to the end. “They were the first evangelists who brought the Good News of the Resurrection to the apostles” (Lk 24:1–11).
De Bourg said another aspect of Luke’s Gospel which she enjoyed was the inclusion of children. “To Jesus, children were not nuisances with no rights but valued members of the Kingdom.”
The gospel also speaks of shepherds, fishermen, tax collectors, the cripple, sick, blind, deaf, demon-possessed, and lepers. Although lepers were ostracised, Jesus still reached out and healed them (5: 12–16). “The unclean were made clean and were restored to society,” de Bourg said.
She summed up saying, “Jesus performed innumerable miracles of healing to return God’s suffering children to useful life. These were the poor and marginalised when Jesus walked the earth.”
De Bourg asked viewers to reflect: “Who would you add to this list today? How are we called to show inclusivity as disciples of Jesus the Christ?”
Gary Tagaille, of the OPPD gave introductory remarks. He said the first set of episodes would run until the end of February. Tagaille explained the production could not be brought live due to Covid-19, but questions would be addressed in subsequent programmes.
He encouraged viewers to send their questions and share feedback via: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp messages to 375-9484 and 382-2673.
Know Your Faith continues with Luke’s Gospel Monday, January 24 at 8 p.m. The topic is ‘The Name of God is Mercy’ presented by Kurbanali, and January 31, ‘A Journey and a Meal’ with de Bourg and Valerie Bethel.
By Lara Pickford-Gordon