Father Christopher writes:-

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The first Sunday of Advent is the start of a new year in the life of the church, and this is marked in particular by a change in the gospel read at Mass during most of the year. We have now moved into year C which is the year of Luke. We know little about St Luke to whom authorship of both the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles is traditionally attributed, but he is thought to be Luke the beloved physician to whom St Paul refers in the Letter to the Colossians as one of his co-workers; and in a very sad passage in Paul's second letter to Timothy he tells us how Luke alone was with him as he was chained during his imprisonment. Tradition has it that St Luke was also an artist and he is credited with having painted a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As we will hear during the course of the year, St Luke's gospel shows Jesus as particularly concerned with caring for the poor and marginalised, children and women, tax collectors and sinners and others on the fringes of society, as well as giving a very positive view of the Gentiles, who share in the possibility of salvation.

St Luke's gospel comes into its own as we approach Christmas because among all the gospels it gives us the fullest account of the events leading up to the incarnation. Whereas St Matthew's gospel gives a fairly brief account of the incarnation mostly from the point of view of Joseph, though also including the persecution by Herod, the visit of the Wise Men and the flight to Egypt, St Luke tells us about the annunciation to Mary, the journey to Bethlehem for the census, the birth in the stable, the annunciation of the angel to the shepherds and the presentation of the child Jesus in the temple. He does this alongside the annunciation to Zechariah about the birth of John the Baptist, Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth and the birth of John. In doing so he highlights the different responses of Zechariah and Mary to the angel's messages and also the different roles of John and Jesus. John's task is to make ready a people prepared for the Lord; Jesus is to be called the Son of the Most High, He will be given the throne of His ancestor David, and of His kingdom there will be no end.

Whether or not St Luke was a portrait artist, he certainly paints a wonderful picture in the infancy narrative of Christ, including words that the Church has adopted in its liturgies. The Magnificat of Mary, when she visits Elizabeth, is said daily at Evening Prayer, as is the Nunc Dimittis of Simeon when Christ is presented in the temple; the Benedictus of Zechariah at the birth of John the Baptist, once Zechariah regains his power of speech, is said daily at Morning Prayer; and the words of the heavenly host at the annunciation to the shepherds 'Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace to men who enjoy his favour' forms the basis of the Gloria sung at Mass.

Only Luke is with me said St Paul. I have recently witnessed the dedication of many nurses at Kingston Hospital, and I hope that as we, our friends and families all rejoice with the shepherds at Christmas we will also remember doctors and nurses staffing our hospitals over the Christmas period, showing that same
dedication to their patients that Luke the blessed physician showed to St Paul.

Have a very happy Christmas.

Blessings

Fr Christopher.

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Father Christopher writes:-

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The first Sunday of Advent is the start of a new year in the life of the church, and this is marked in particular by a change in the gospel read at Mass during most of the year. We have now moved into year C which is the year of Luke. We know little about St Luke to whom authorship of both the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles is traditionally attributed, but he is thought to be Luke the beloved physician to whom St Paul refers in the Letter to the Colossians as one of his co-workers; and in a very sad passage in Paul's second letter to Timothy he tells us how Luke alone was with him as he was chained during his imprisonment. Tradition has it that St Luke was also an artist and he is credited with having painted a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As we will hear during the course of the year, St Luke's gospel shows Jesus as particularly concerned with caring for the poor and marginalised, children and women, tax collectors and sinners and others on the fringes of society, as well as giving a very positive view of the Gentiles, who share in the possibility of salvation.

St Luke's gospel comes into its own as we approach Christmas because among all the gospels it gives us the fullest account of the events leading up to the incarnation. Whereas St Matthew's gospel gives a fairly brief account of the incarnation mostly from the point of view of Joseph, though also including the persecution by Herod, the visit of the Wise Men and the flight to Egypt, St Luke tells us about the annunciation to Mary, the journey to Bethlehem for the census, the birth in the stable, the annunciation of the angel to the shepherds and the presentation of the child Jesus in the temple. He does this alongside the annunciation to Zechariah about the birth of John the Baptist, Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth and the birth of John. In doing so he highlights the different responses of Zechariah and Mary to the angel's messages and also the different roles of John and Jesus. John's task is to make ready a people prepared for the Lord; Jesus is to be called the Son of the Most High, He will be given the throne of His ancestor David, and of His kingdom there will be no end.

Whether or not St Luke was a portrait artist, he certainly paints a wonderful picture in the infancy narrative of Christ, including words that the Church has adopted in its liturgies. The Magnificat of Mary, when she visits Elizabeth, is said daily at Evening Prayer, as is the Nunc Dimittis of Simeon when Christ is presented in the temple; the Benedictus of Zechariah at the birth of John the Baptist, once Zechariah regains his power of speech, is said daily at Morning Prayer; and the words of the heavenly host at the annunciation to the shepherds 'Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace to men who enjoy his favour' forms the basis of the Gloria sung at Mass.

Only Luke is with me said St Paul. I have recently witnessed the dedication of many nurses at Kingston Hospital, and I hope that as we, our friends and families all rejoice with the shepherds at Christmas we will also remember doctors and nurses staffing our hospitals over the Christmas period, showing that same
dedication to their patients that Luke the blessed physician showed to St Paul.

Have a very happy Christmas.

Blessings

Fr Christopher.