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Catholic Faith Communities of Skibbereen, Rath and the Islands
What the Word says in itself
Of the four Evangelists, Luke is the most polished writer. His Gospel opens with a long, elegant, ﬂowing Greek sentence that even in translation, towers above the more humble prose in which most of the New Testament is written. It is all the more telling, then, that Luke’s Gospel is the one that most clearly points to the limitations of prose.
Some things just can’t be expressed in ordinary language. If the troubadour standing beneath the beloved’s window cannot sing, then the least he will do is express himself poetically; what he will not do is conﬁne himself to the common patterns of everyday speech.
In the opening chapters of Luke’s Gospel, the Good
News is simply too good for common prose – even for exalted prose. We’re not told that Mary sings her Magniﬁcat (Lk 1:46-55), but we’re le in no doubt that it is a hymn. For Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, speech is inadequate: only a cry of joy will do, and it’s good to reﬂect that the words we pray in the ‘Hail Mary’ – ‘Blessed are you among women’ – ﬁrst came to us as a spontaneous cry rather than a considered comment (Lk 1:43).
Then there is Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband, struck dumb for his scepticism regarding the angel Gabriel’s message. When his speech ﬁnally returns, he breaks into the long, poetic utterance we know as the Benedictus (Lk 1:67-79).
Heaven itself validates the impulse of Elizabeth, Mary and Zechariah. On the night of the Saviour’s birth, the light and glory that enveloped the shepherds were followed by the proclamation of the heavenly host: Gloria! – ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of goodwill’ (Lk 2:14).
Completing the hymnic line-out of the early chapters of Luke’s Gospel is Simeon,
The Shepherds and the Angel by Carl Bloch
the elder in the Temple, who has been awaiting the consolation of Israel. Taking the infant Jesus in his arms, he blesses God and utters his Nunc Dimittis: ‘At last, all-powerful Master, you give leave to your servant to go in peace according to your promise’ (Lk 2:28-32).
Click here to see an interesting pamphlet about a plan for Life →
Click here to see a wonderful reflection written by Bishop William Crean