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By Dr. Jeff Mirus, Catholic Culture, Aug 30, 2019
As I mentioned in treating Matthew and Mark, it is difficult to say something truly original in a commentary on the Gospels. Consequently, I have tried simply to highlight an overall theme for each one: For Matthew, Jesus as the Messiah; for Mark, Christ as Son of God; and now, for Luke, the radical challenge Jesus Christ presented, and continues to present to all of us. A significant goal of Luke’s account is to use a continuing series of comparisons and contrasts to impress upon his readers just how different Christ and His message are, in comparison to all that we have formerly considered significant in our lives.
To illustrate the constantly rising crescendo of this challenge, I have divided my essay under six subheads.
1. The comparison with John the Baptist
Luke famously (and delightfully) opens his Gospel with a close account of the births of both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, an account shaped by a direct comparison. John’s birth is foretold and celebrated with what we might call minor local miracles, but it is clearly a human conception. But John himself testifies to Mary’s child while still in the womb, and when John’s father, Zechariah, offers a prophetic utterance, it is a witness to the Christ. Moreover, while the angel Gabriel is the messenger in both instances, he tells Mary that she will conceive a savior by the Holy Spirit—and the universality of this conception and birth is stressed in the action of persons and events far beyond the local community: angels; shepherds; the Roman census which takes Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem; the child’s Davidic heritage; and Simeon’s proclamation of Christ as savior, as light to the Gentiles, as a sign of contradiction. Shortly after we find the boy Jesus already a master of the Old Law, discoursing with the elders in the Temple at the age of 12. ….