Luke’s Top Ten

17 Oct

LukeIn anticipation of the feast of St. Luke tomorrow, I thought I would offer a top ten list of favorite passages from St. Luke’s Gospel, but with a twist: All selected passages must be substantially unique to St. Luke’s Gospel. In other words, the mere fact that St. Luke includes an interesting detail, such as the sweating of blood during Our Lord’s Agony in the Garden, isn’t good enough. The following list, then, contains favorite Gospel passages that likely would have been lost if they were not recorded by St. Luke the Evangelist.

The list is in order of appearance in St. Luke’s Gospel:

(1) Luke 1:26-38 Annunciation

The announcement that the Son of God is coming into the world, and Mary’s breathtaking response. It doesn’t get any better than that!

(2) Luke 1:39-56 Visitation

Another “Joyful Mystery”; I’m particularly fond of Mary’s hymn of praise, known as the “Magnificat.” There’s also a fascinating connection with the Old Testament, as Mary is revealed as the New Ark of the Covenant.

(3) Luke 2:1-20 Nativity

One might protest that St. Matthew includes some mention of Jesus’ birth and infancy, but the details provided here are mostly unique to Luke’s Gospel—everything from their being no room at the inn and being laid in a manger to the adoration of the shepherds and the glorious praise of the angels.

(4) Luke 5:1-11 Call of Simon the Fisherman

I love the invitation to Simon Peter to “put out into the deep” and Simon’s subsequent response to the miraculous catch of fish: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Despite his weakness and failings, he would become a “fisher of men.”

(5) Luke 10:29-37 Parable of the Good Samaritan

A good reminder to make “real” our commitment to love our neighbor as ourselves.

(6) Luke 10:38-42 Martha and Mary

This passage is really short, but the Church is so much richer for knowing that, despite the wonderful hospitality offered by St. Martha, Mary chose the greater part.

(7) Luke 15:11-32 Parable of the Prodigal Son

This is arguably the most famous—and most profound–of all of Jesus’ parables. I love the image it gives of God the Father, and what it teaches me as a human father.

(8) Luke 18:9-14 Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

I love this parable, as humility before God is the key to authentic prayer.

(9) Luke 23:39-43 Good Thief “Steals” Heaven

While other Gospels mention that Jesus was crucified between two thieves, only St. Luke gives us the final exchange between the two thieves. Who can forget Jesus’ words to the good thief: “Amen I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

(10) Luke 24:13-35 Road to Emmaus

This is perhaps my favorite post-Resurrection story concerning Jesus, in which the two disciples’ hearts “burned” as Jesus opened the Scriptures to them, and then they definitively recognized Him in the breaking of the bread. This episode is probably the story alluded to in Mark 16:12-13, but of course only St. Luke gives us details.

I hope you concur that this is a pretty amazing list of great Gospel passages recorded only in Luke. Perhaps even more amazing is that I could probably come up with a second top ten list of beautiful passages unique to Luke (e.g., Canticle of Zechariah; Presentation in the Temple; Finding in the Temple; Jesus declares a Jubilee; Raising the Widow of Nain’s son; Parable of the Lost Coin; Parable of the Unjust Steward; Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus; Cleansing of the Ten Lepers; Zacchaeus). But the ten listed above are my favorites in this category.

What is your favorite passage from Luke?

By the way, I included an image of St. Luke with an ox. St. Luke’s Gospel is often represented by an ox, which is symbolic of Old Testament sacrifices and priesthood. St. Luke’s Gospel opens with Zechariah’s priestly service in the Temple.

2 Responses to “Luke’s Top Ten”

  1. kkollwitz October 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    I like this bit best: “And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”

    Overshadowing has a long and important history in the Bible, beginning with Exodus. This simple verb says an awful lot about Mary and her relationship with God; and indirectly about her relationship with Joseph as well. Luke gets it.

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