Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Glory to God on high! Peace on earth to men of good will!

St. Luke has a very special place in the New Testament.  Author of the third gospel, he also wrote the Acts of the Apostles. And in this he was unique. But this second book, which shows the infant church to take its first steps under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is of utmost importance. It is such that it allows us to glimpse the context of the communities to whom St. Paul and others direct their letters or even a bit of context of theApocalypse.
According to St. Luke, at the time of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, the angels sing, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will!"
But it goes to a concrete social space, pastoral, where there is a crib, which is a manger. Since the shepherds were not just regular people in the synagogues and religious acts they were unpopular people. But how could they be regular to such acts if they roamed the arid lands of Judea in search of pastures? Yet the word of the angels values their goodwill.
Each evangelist has his own traits and theological perspective. Something similar happens, for example, with the popes, the bishops, the parish priests, etc..Let's try to penetrate a little bit in that of St. Luke.
If the nativity tells the coming of the Saviour, the cross speaks of achievement, the end of his work. And how do we see Jesus at that moment?
Between two thieves or criminals, condemned by human justice.
We can sing: Glory to God who is worthy to be at the side of sinners! From the beginning to the end of his life among men. He came not to condemn but to save them.
I understand that the case told the good thief - how there may be a good thief? - is likely to cause us real scandal. Human justice sentenced him to death and his few words of goodwill, open the doors of Paradise. Without Purgatory.
But the man did not have to compensate the victims of his thefts, his violence?
How good this injustice - indeed apparent injustice - of God!
One gets the idea that God Himself takes charge of repairing the injured. But the thief is going, "today", to Paradise.
St. Luke is the evangelist of the parable of the Prodigal Son. And therein is a identically scandalous situation. The other son was angry, and we in our human justice, tend to agree with him. Then the errant son, who squanders the assets "with women of bad life”, marches and junketing, is worth of a big welcome party and for the orderly, dedicated brother, there is nothing?
In the writings of Blessed Alexandrina, Jesus comes to tell her something like this: I've wanted to go to my knees next to each man and ask him to love Me!  Alexandrina also reacts and thinks that as well. But it is more or less what is in the Gospel. Jesus came looking for the man and if he has a gesture of acceptance, if he takes a step in the right direction, Jesus wants to give him everything.
Glory to God on high!
Peace on earth to men of good will!
Sometimes people say that every day of the year should be Christmas. I think not: there's a day for Christmas, another for Easter, another to Pentecost, etc. To say that every day should be Christmas can mean emptying the historic character of the Incarnation of the Word of God. Getting a date from the year to speak of brotherhood, love, like a little demanding, but without Jesus, has little of Christmas.
In the Credo there is an expression that says, "And He suffered under Pontius Pilate". To someone it may seem that the name of Pilate receives there an undue consecration. Would not it be better to forget it, a bad person as he was?
No, the sentence says the historic nature of death and consequently the life of Jesus. Jesus is not a mythical entity, a mist on the fringes of real adventure of man. No, He shared with us our time, our temptations, our problems of hunger, cold, our suffering. And he came to give them a sense that we could not suspect.
Peace on earth to men of good will! Glory to God on high!

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