November 30, 2015,
Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,
Happy New Year! Yes, the new Church year began yesterday with the first of four Sundays in Advent. Advent means “coming.” It refers not only to Christ’s first coming with Christmas but also his second coming to close out our current historical time. The season is penitential in that it urges us to prepare for the second coming of Jesus, but, like the increasing light caused by the succession of candles lit each week on the Advent Wreath, Advent is a time of rising hope.
The pattern of scripture readings also changes with the First Sunday of Advent. Matthew, Mark, and Luke rotate on a three year cycle. Since Mark is the shortest Gospel, it also includes much from John. In this new Church year, most of the Gospel readings will be from Luke.
Who was Luke, and what are the main themes of his Gospel? Luke was a physician and companion of Paul. He not only wrote the Gospel According to Luke but also the Acts of the Apostles. Luke’s Gospel is written for the Gentiles—for the nations of the world. It is intended to reach every person on the planet. He especially cares for the isolated and the poor. Luke portrays Jesus as constantly reaching to these people in his earthly ministry. Luke wants us to believe Jesus understood the hardships of life. In the Christmas story, Luke has Jesus born in a stable—among the animals, for there was no room in in the inn.
Luke’s Gospel (and Acts of the Apostles) was written around 90 A.D. He knew the tradition of apocalyptic—the imminent end of the age—as proclaimed by John the Baptist, Jesus, and Paul. Luke, in understanding that the end could come at any time, considers that there may be a delay. He is the first to realize that the Church will have a history. Hence, he is the Church’s first historian. He wants to leave us with an account of the very early Church’s life. I hope you have a beautiful and fulfilling Advent season and enjoy Luke (and Acts) throughout this new Church year. With my love and best wishes, I am,
Your brother in Christ,