Interpreting Luke’s Gospel subject of prayer, study day
By TIM BULLARD
CONWAY Are you hungry?
A hunger and thirst for knowledge about the Book of Luke enlightened study group members one Saturday in Conway about the importance of the meal and other topics in this Gospel.
Home-cooked meals, evangelization and literary style all enrich the writings of Luke in the New Testament, participants of a prayer and study day learned at St. James Church Nov. 1.
“Who is Jesus? That’s going to come back over and over in the Gospel,” said Father David Valtierra of The Oratory in Rock Hill. The priest drove three hours to Horry County to dissect Luke’s work and teach others how to teach and interpret this book of the Bible. “Luke could probably write for TV today,” he said. “Tell the story.” Father Valtierra noted there are usually 17 minutes of a TV show left without the commercials.
“Luke is masterful about doing that,” he said. “He mentions the Roman world. That represents his global perspective. It was the Mediterranean world of the Romans.” Father Valtierra called Bethlehem “a good Old Testament town,” adding, “It has connections to David.”
“The story starts out about Joseph. It tells us he is from David’s family,” he said. “The focus becomes on Mary. The scene of Jesus being born is very simple, isn’t it?” Luke’s writing includes the core of about two or three sentences usually, said Father Valtierra, including a response, proclamations and announcements, as in the story of the Nativity with the shepherds. “You’ve got a song and a choir,” he said. “They weren’t your neighborhood success story. They were the bottom of the barrel. They were unclean. They couldn’t go to the synagogue. But they were the first witnesses, right?”
As the shepherds were the witnesses in Luke’s work, he said, the angels were “messengers.”
“Luke’s Gospel is the Gospel of evangelization,” he said. “Look at what the angels do. They are witnesses. They are announcers. They were proclaimers.”
Father Valtierra enticed the participants to become like the angels in getting others excited about the word of God. “Get them excited,” he said. “Proclaim the message. Look at what they do.”
“What about Jesus as the shepherd of the flock?” he said, answering an audience question. “Luke likes to invoke these Old Testament characters.”
David was first a shepherd, he noted. “He wasn’t the first son. He was the seventh son,” he said. “Annointed” in Greek and Latin translates to “Christ,” according to Father Valtierra, calling David “a kid.” Luke uses the theme of “the spirituality of fulfillment” a lot, he said. “They listen to the proclamation and are changed by it,” he said. “They went out and told other people. That’s the difference.”
Father Valtierra kept the audience focused as they asked questions up until the liturgy and Mass.
“Hearing it out loud is important,” he told the group. “It’s different than reading it. Keep that in mind.”
Father Valtierra compared 70 A.D. and evangelization to South Carolina in that there were Greeks and others who were hearing the message for the first time.
“They’re all from different places. Sounds like South Carolina to me,” he said.
Luke uses “echoes” and phrases like “Don’t be afraid” “Watch for little phrases like that,” said the priest.
“This Gospel is highly eucharistic,” said Father Valtierra. “Alfred Hitchcock couldn’t do it better.” One of the reference materials that Father Valtierra suggested for in-depth study of Luke is Dining in the Kingdom of God, a captivating reference guide to how meals were an important part of the gospels, especially Luke.
There is the chow-down at the House of Levi turn to Luke 5:27-39 before supper some day.
Munching out with Simon the Pharisee check out Luke 7:36-50 after breakfast.
Culinary fun in the city of Bethsaida? investigate Luke 9:10-17 on the way to Hardee’s.
That was in Gallilee.
On the way to Jerusalem the book points out a meal in Luke 10:38-42, a noon-time brunch at a Pharisee’s home in Luke 1:37-54 and there was hospitality with Zaccheus in Luke 19:1-10. Don’t forget hunger with the Passover in Luke 22:7-13 and Luke 22:14-38 and snacks at Emmaus in Luke 24:13-35.
Everywhere one looks in the Book of Luke, somebody is quelling their appetite for the Lord’s word during a meal.
“The guy was probably never without a bagged lunch,” Father Valtierra said to laughter. “They were a highly eucharistic people, obviously.”
There is also a call for social Justice, he noted, in Luke’s writings.
Father Valtierra was pleased with the interest and turnout of people at the session.
“I think it shows how Catholics and Christians hunger for the Scriptures. This group is excited, energetic and alert.”