We have entered a brand new liturgical year, the “year of St Luke”! 60% of this longest Gospel will be proclaimed throughout this liturgical year…

What is so new about it, though? We have certainly been here before…the Church’s year rotates on regular basis after all.  On Sundays, t’s Luke every third year!

And so we may fall into the trap of a  “proclamation boredom”. Our thoughts may wonder to other, more “relevant” issues as we stand to greet the Gospel each Sunday, or break it open with our Catechumens. But this stance that there is nothing new for me, an old hand in the trade, that “I have heard it all before”, is a very short-sighted one. Even the wheel of your car or a bicycle is always the same, but always covers new ground. Let us see how this Gospel can help us do the same…

1. Write your own ordered account of the Good News YOU have received.

This is the only Gospel with a preface. And it is a genius little introduction. Read these 4 verses (Lk 1:1-4) and see what the aim of the Gospel is. Make bullet points, or write out the things that convince you, in your experience, about the Christian story you have received. Use your mind and hear, heritage and experience. Then pick your own Theophilus – lover of God. It can be your wife or husband, child, parent, friend, catechumen, a bus driver, anyone… Focus on what would help them to see how well founded the Christian Story is. How would you structure the Good News of your life, the one that you just jotted down? Remember, it is the things that make sense to you that will most likely make sense also to those you are trying to pass this message to. What would you include and what would you exclude? This exercise will make you aware of what is important to you in being a Christian and passing your faith on.

2. Find parallels of fulfilled promises.

Next comes the narrative of Jesus’ birth and boyhood (Lk 1:5-2:52). All the stories here parallel something in the Old Testament or in the then contemporary era. Find yourself a good commentary and try to research which bits mean what and how they link to the Old Testament / Roman Empire. They always reveal certain promises of God and/or desires of human heart being fulfilled. Getting a grasp of that is important not only for a deep experience of Christmas, but also for the next step: look around and try to find those bits of news that confirm that God is still keeping love, hope and faith alive even in the present time. Maybe you can even name some events where divine power enters our circumstances through the strength of faith and character of certain people. Maybe you can even find some promises of God in the Bible and see how they are being gradually lived out even in your environment. Options are endless…. Having done that, write your own Magnificat or Benedictus about something relevant to your life right now. Invite the catechumens to do the same over the festive season of Christmas… This exercise is very useful for expanding our ability to “spot” elements of the Good News and God’s work around us within a historical context. You will be amazed how much more you will start gradually noticing…

3. Find an answer to a temptation.

Baptism and temptations of Jesus is the next chunk in the Gospel (Lk 3:1-4:13). Notice the sequence. Temptations are impossible to endure without first having the experience of God as a loving and proud Father/Mother/Lover (whichever image helps you). Spend time reading the account of Baptism again and again (Lk 3:21-22). Place yourself in the story. Only after having experienced God’s attention, bring in a thing or two you often struggle with. The answer to it will be in God’s gaze gently placed on you. You can even devise a session for your catechumens to do precisely that during Lent, maybe over a retreat. Do not forget that the entire public ministry of Jesus hinges on this gaze of his Father. And if it is crucial for him, it must be crucial for anyone who follows him…

4. Re-write some parables.

St Luke shows a Christ concerned for the poorest of the poor, with beautiful parables and stories balancing events featuring men and women (Lk 4:14-19:27). When reading the parables, try to re-write them using contemporary language and environment. Alternatively, try to invite the catechumens to come up with different endings for each. The ensuing discussions are often incredibly deep and enriching.

5. Enter your own Jerusalem.

The conflict in Jerusalem leads to Jesus’ cross and resurrection (Lk 19:28-24:53), two sides of the same coin. This is probably the most challenging part of the Gospel but potentially also most helpful. Each one of us must go to his or her Jerusalem at some stage, namely, facing the tough situations in our lives. A good exercise for this part of St Luke’s Gospel is to get a map of ancient Jerusalem and construct your own blueprint from it. Read through the events in Jerusalem from St Luke’s Gospel and mark the corresponding places on your map (use your imagination if you have no certainty). Find the realities in your life that correspond to the realities in Jesus’ Jerusalem (poetic licence welcome) and maybe even invent your own names for the various quarters of “your” Jerusalem. (A sequel to this activity, with a clear message of resurrection, can be a similar exercise using the image of Heavenly Jerusalem in Revelation 21.)