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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
December 5, 1997     The Message
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December 5, 1997

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The Message -- for Catholics of southwestern Indiana Welcome to my spiritual home,, By FATHER EUGENE LaVERDIERE, S.S.S. Catholic News Service The Gospel of Luke is my home. For a long time, I just visited there. But little by little, it became my home. I like inviting people to this spiritual home of mine, and really enjoy showing them around, especially in my favorite rooms. One of my favorite rooms is the story of the disciples of Emmaus (24:13- 35). I spend a lot of time in that room. As this article unfolds, you will see why. [ accompany the two disciples of Emmaus on their way. Disheartened, they are abandoning the Christian jour- ney. Soon a third person joins them, some- one they do not recognize. I listen as they say how the good news turned out to be bad news, not knowing all the while that they are speaking to Jesus. My heart jumps when they invite Jesus to their home. Then Jesus speaks to them and interprets the Scriptures: There is no reason for them to be discouraged. At their home, my heart bursts into flame as Jesus takes bread, gives thanks and breaks it. After they recognize Jesus, I accompa- ny the disciples back to Jerusalem. Good news has to be shared. I am with them as they receive the good news that Jesus is risen and has appeared to Simon Peter, and as they tell the community how they met Jesus on the way and recognized him in the breaking of the bread. Each time I come to my Emmaus room or invite people into it and show them around, I discover something new. For me, the story of the disciples of Emmaus summarizes the whole Gospel of Luke. The disciples of Emmaus repre- sent the readers for whom Luke wrote his two-volume work, his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Many Christians at that time were dis- couraged. More than 50 years had passed since Jesus died, rose and ascend- ed to heaven. A lot of things had changed. And in the eyes of many, what seemed to be good news had turned out to be bad news. There were sporadic persecu- tions. There were problems with the leadership. The poor were discriminat- ed against. The Christian communities were dis- heartened. Their original enthusiasm was gone. They lost their missionary spirit. There were defections. Yes, Luke's readers were like the dis- ciples of Emmaus. The story responded to their discouragement. It was time to take a fresh look at the Scriptures. The disciples of Emmaus invited a stranger into their home. The stranger turned out to be Jesus. Like them, the Christians in the communities Luke wrote for should invite people to their homes and offer Christian hospi- tality. In the Emmaus story, Luke showed how Jesus is with them and how they can recognize him in the breaking of the bread. After recognizing Jesus, the risen Lord, the readers want to share their experience with everyone. In Luke, my spiritual home, the Emmaus room is connected with sever- al other favorite rooms where I spend time pondering various aspects of the Emmaus story. One of those rooms is a story of Jesus at Nazareth at the beginning of his pub- lic ministry (Luke 4:16-30). It shows how Jesus challenged the synagogue he attended regularly. In the Emmaus story, the disciples invited a stranger to their home. That stranger turned out to be Jesus. But for Luke's readers, including us, who is Jesus? And who might be that stranger? Jesus presents himself to his home- town synagogue with poetic words taken from Isaiah 61:1-2: "The Gospel of Luke is my home," says Blessed Sacrament Father LaVerdiere, a Scripture scholar. "One of my favorite rooms is disciples of Emmaus (24:13-35). I spend a lot of time in that will see why." CNS "'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives And recovery of sight And let the oppressed go And to proclaim a the Lord"' (4:18-19). By FATHER JOHN J. CASTELOT ..... -Catholic News Sorvico Luke was the only gentile author of a New Testament book, probably a Syrian by birth. He displayed an impt:essive masteiy6 Greek. ;: : His prologue (1:1-4) is one finely hal, =, anted sentence in classical Greek. From there on he adopts the style of the Greek translation of the Old Testament, a type of Greek called "Common," but there is nothing common about his use of it. Writing about 85 A.D., when the fever- ish expectation of an almost immediate Second Coming had subsided, he pro- jects a long period of history before that final event. He even wrote a second vol- ume, the Acts of the Apostles, telling of the beginnings of that history in the life of the Christian communities. One tegtnui about Luke holds that he was a physician..While there is no evi- dence for this, his writings do reveal a dedicated doctor's heart. He comes across as a man whose heart went out to suffering humanity. In his portrait of Jesus, Luke highlights the Lord's healing ministry, by which he not only  diseases but healed people, restoring them to physical and emotional wholeness. He was deeply moved by suf- ferings of all sorts. The special objects of his cncem were despised Samaritans' lep- ers, the poor, those written off as "sinners," tax collectors, women, especially widows. . Luke opens his 15th chapter thus: "The tax collectors and sitmers were all draw- ing near to listen to him, but the Phar- isees and scribes began to complain." Luke then tells three parables about a lost sheep, a lost coin, a lost person (the Prodigal Son). We realize that Jesus is pre-eminently a savior who rescues peo- ple from misery and restores them to full human dignity. Luke's portrait of Jesus' gentle accep- tance of sinners has gained this Gospel the title "Gospel of Great Pardons." Only Luke tells the story of the woman whose appreciation of Jesus' for- giveness moved her to kneel before him and pour out her tears on his feet. Only he tells the parable of the Prodigal Son. Only he records Jesus" prayer for his executioners' forgiveness. Only he tells about the Good Thief. Jesus offers encouragement to people overwhelmed by a sense of unworthi- ness, even now. It has been said that in Luke's Gospel Jesus always seems to be eating. True, there are many banquet scenes, but they indicate more than Jesus' conviviality. one common metaphor for eternal bliss was the heavenly banquet at the Father's table. Jesus' sharing of meals bcith all sorts of people suggested clear- ly that he was at the Father's table. His indiscriminate infuriated the "better" Father Castelot is a author, teacher and