The astonishment and approval of the synagogue crowd quickly turns to engagement as Jesus spells out his mission. He refers to two accounts from the Scriptures involving the two great ninth century prophets – Elijah’s dealing with the widow of Zarephath and the cure of Naaman through the ministry of Elisha. The importance is in that in both cases it is a gentile that is the recipient of the prophet’s care. Luke is clearly demonstrating here a thread that is in the whole Gospel, that the Lord’s mission is for the gentiles not merely the Jews who will for the most part reject him. The anger of the crowd points to his rejection and Passion (Luke 4:21-30). Of all the prophets, it is Jeremiah who is most similar to the Lord. He is appointed as prophet ‘to the goiim’ who will be rejected by his own people but they will not prevail (Jeremiah 1:4-5.17-19). St. Paul’s famous hymn to love (agape) reminds the community that are summoned to mirror the nature of God himself (I Corinthians 12:31-13:13).
Dei Verbum incorporates in Chapter V on the New Testament the central elements of the Instruction of the Pontifical Biblical Commission Sancta Mater Ecclesia (1964). In the light of Form Criticism and Redaction Criticism, the Constitution reaffirms the historicity of the Gospels and that they ‘faithfully hand on what Jesus, the Son of God, while he lived among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation, until the day he was taken up (cf. Acts 1:1-2).’ But then it explains the next two ‘layers’ of which the Gospel is composed. Firstly, ‘the fuller understanding’ of the words and actions of Jesus that the Apostles gained after the Ascension, enlightened by the Spirit. This is the expansion of the oral tradition – as argued from different perspectives by Form Criticism. Secondly, the fact of the editing by each of the evangelists of the material – this accepts the findings of Redaction Criticism. (DV 19) Each Gospel presents a true but distinctive portrait of the Lord. Thus in the Gospel extracts last Sunday and today Luke gives a unique insight into the beginning and the overall nature of the Lord’s mission.
Canon Mervyn Tower