September 28th, 1995, Serial No. 00287

Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.




New Testament Class

AI Summary: 





So we've been doing the four Gospels and looking at them from a single perspective, largely, which is that of unitive participation, with the thesis that Christianity, really, at its core, is this gift of Christ, which is a participation in Christ, a unitive participation in Christ, who is the wisdom of God, in whom, somehow, all things are radically contained, who is the center of all things, out of which all things come, in which all things are contained, and in whom we become one with Him, with God, and with everything else, in some way. And the knowledge that we have, the understanding that we have, is simply the radiation of the light of that unity, of that new being into our consciousness, and that that's received in baptism. So we saw that reflected in Mark's Gospel in a very veiled way. In Matthew's Gospel, it develops more explicitly, I think,


in that Jesus is the wisdom of God, and his teaching predominates. And then in Luke, we find it in another form, particularly in terms of the Spirit, not so much in terms of Jesus' wisdom, even though that's there, but in terms of the imminent Spirit within us, the participation in the divine energy. And then finally, in John, we're going to find it in a most explicit way, but that's for next time. The two handouts that you have are for John, the first letter of John. I'd invite you to read the first letter of John before our next and final session, because that text is very important for us, as a kind of concluding, and in a way conclusive text, or climactic text. Okay, we were talking about Matthew and Luke, and last time we compared some of the texts in Matthew and Luke, and especially we compared the parables, those which are found


only in Matthew, and those which are found only in Luke. And remember our basic pattern for the whole Gospel, of which you will become sickened sooner or later. And then behind that, we propose there's a Trinitarian, a very broad, expansive Trinitarian context of God, Word, Spirit, and Creation. And you can move towards this arrangement of Gospels in two ways. You can do it with a situation of a community. You can say that Matthew is talking to a Jewish Christian community, and therefore he's naturally in continuity with the law, and he has to provide for them a line of continuity with where they come from. And so he interprets the Christ event, the Christ mystery in those terms, and that's true. And as Luke is speaking to a Gentile community, they have an entirely different sort of concern, and he has the need to say something else, to say it in a different way, to present the mystery


in another way than he does, and that's true too. And so it would be for John and for Mark. However, we're really saying something else. We're talking not so much about causality, but about expressiveness. We're saying that the mystery actually manifests itself in a certain form, and this is very interesting. You may be skeptical of that, but it seems to me that it does express itself this way everywhere in the New Testament, that the form, you might say, is a cruciform figure. That's putting it graphically, putting it crudely, but that's the way it turns out. But the mystery actually expresses itself in these dimensions, and somehow things move around in the New Testament until they form this figure. Things migrate until they find it. Think of a magnet, you know, the iron filings, the old thing they do in the elementary physics. If you have a magnet underneath a sheet of paper and you put iron filings on top of it, they sort themselves out and arrange themselves


according to the invisible magnetic field, so that they in some way describe that field, they become a figure of that field. And so I believe it is in the New Testament. The invisible mystery is manifested by the alignment of all of the elements in the New Testament. Now this happens even among the various writings of the New Testament, so that Matthew parks himself over here, and Luke finds himself over here, and John finds himself there. I think it works that way. It seems too simple-minded to be true, but there are these simple great shapes in the New Testament that simply assert themselves. They also assert themselves in history. History is extremely complex, and at the same time there's something very simple operating in it. You can see that even if you just look at the Eastern and Western churches. There's something very simple that distinguishes them. It's not that it's extremely subtle and complex. It is subtle and complex, but at the core of it is something simple. The simple thing may be hard to describe, or it may accept a name. It may accept a label at a certain point. And behind this, we're saying, is that ultimate mystery of the divine persons.


Or, if you get tired of the word person, you can say what? The divine, not just manifestations. The divine, what would you say? The dimensions of the divine mystery? Those words go bankrupt on us pretty quickly. But whatever they are, these features of the divine, these elements, our words don't go deep enough. Whatever it is, this primeval, this archetypal form, that's in the ultimate mystery of being, asserts itself in this way, between the Gospels, and in many, many other ways in the New Testament. Now, I was trying to get together these characteristics of each of these Gospels, especially in Matthew and Luke. See, it's as if in Mark, what you have is the breaking out of the mystery. This word, eruption, I mentioned that last time, I-R-R-U-P-T-I-O-N. It's as if things are being torn, things are breaking through in Mark's Gospel. It's as if the event has happened like the exploding of a volcano, like the bursting of something through the earth.


And there's a minimum of, what would you call it, of secondary reflection about it. There's a lot of heart in the writing of Mark's Gospel, but at the same time, it almost seems like he's doing it on the wing. It almost seems like things are immediately setting into a form. And what they're describing is this emergence of the mystery. There hasn't been a lot of development of thought after it. There also hasn't been a lot of community experience, which presents questions which the Scriptures are then, what would you call it, aimed to. And the revelation, the mystery is then aimed in order to answer, to respond to those questions. And there hasn't been very much of that yet. There's been some of it. But it's a relatively early stage. Whereas in Matthew and Luke, you've got a lot of community experience, and you've also got Mark's Gospel visible there. So something's being built on top of Mark's Gospel. Something's being developed further. What happens is that in addition to that rudimentary Christ mystery, which you have in Mark's Gospel, veiled and then unveiled in the baptismal experience,


but all in mystery somehow, in addition to that and on top of that, you have something else built, which is teaching, largely. The sayings of Jesus are invoked, are brought in, from Q and then from their own sources, in great number. And the parables are increased and multiplied. And you get a great proliferation of teaching, of doctrine, in these two Gospels. Corresponding to, the critics would say, to the situations of the community, which call forth these responses, these teachings. And bring to memory the particular teachings of Jesus that are relevant to answer those questions. But also it's needed in order to manifest the mystery. And then John's Gospel seems to manifest something else. It's as if the problems of the community are still there, but somebody has moved somehow into a stage of reflection beyond those problems, in which he attempts a synthetic vision. Or you might almost say that the synthetic vision emerges out of it,


from the depths, from within. And it's such a synthetic vision that all things somehow become one in their center. That's what we find in John's Gospel. And it's manifested especially in those I Am statements of Jesus, as we'll see. And it comes out, it's almost in liquid form, in its pure liquid form in the first letter of John, which is not a narrative anymore, it's not a Gospel anymore. And it forms a kind of closure. We started out with Paul, and we end with that first letter of John. They're very similar in a way, because they contain this synthetic insight. But at the same time, a lot has happened between the two. So we'll talk about that next time. This time I want to finish with Matthew and with Luke. Now, I tried to put together the features of Matthew's vision. And I made a new try this morning to do that. And sorting them into a few categories, I made a list at first of about 20 items. And tried to do the same thing for Luke. Remember we talked about a constellation at each pole, of different elements, like law and justice and things like that.


Which, if you put them all together somehow, gives you the location of this pole here, which you may not even be able to put a name on yet. And then another such constellation over here. So what I'd like to do this morning is go through those two constellations. Now, obviously doing something like that is not objective, because I've been looking for this pole. In other words, I've had an idea about what's in there. And so I naturally choose these elements so that they relate to that. So it's a very biased type of inquiry. But nevertheless, I think it comes out useful. Let me just read briefly these elements which I had for Matthew. And then I'll do the same for Luke. Now, Matthew's elements I've sorted this morning into about five categories. The first one is relation to the Old Testament, the First Testament. Second is relationship to the law. The third is Jesus as teacher and his authority. The fourth is the Church and the peculiar Matthaean vision of the Church. The fifth is morality, and the sixth is judgment.


The final judgment, that is. Now, under the first, and the Luke categories are very different. First of all, relationship to the First Testament. You have the idea of fulfillment, and Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. And Matthew is the only gospel in which you have this whole set of what they call fulfillment formula texts. If you want to find out what they are, you can look in Brown's Birth of the Messiah. He says there are from 10 to 14 of them. Now, they're not only fulfillment texts, but they are, what would you call it, completely, explicitly pointed out as such by a formula. And the formula goes like this. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet who said. So, Matthew completely sets it up explicitly. That's the cap completely out of the bag, as it were. And using these Old Testament prophecies as fulfillments.


Many of them are from Isaiah. About seven or eight of them are from Isaiah. Let me read a few samples. Matthew 1, 22-23. Isaiah 7-14. Behold, a virgin shall conceive. Remember? A virgin shall conceive, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. Now, that's explicitly introduced as what happens with Jesus as fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy. There are about five of them in the infancy narratives of Matthew. Because, remember, the infancy narratives are something that Matthew is introducing, putting in front of what he's received from Mark. The second one, and you, O Bethlehem. Remember? Third one, out of Egypt have I called my son. That's from Isaiah. The fourth one, a voice was heard in Ramah. Remember, after the killing of the innocents by Herod and Matthew. The fifth one, he shall be called the Nazarene. Remember? Because he was thought to have come from Nazareth.


The sixth one, the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Now we're out of the infancy narrative and into introducing John the Baptist. Remember? And the sixth one, the land of Zebulun. Galilee is the one about the land in darkness. In the land of darkness, a great light has appeared. Remember? Now, you see how strongly and how crucial, how important it is for Matthew to build his gospel on top of the Old Testament and explicitly in terms of fulfillment, of fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies. It's as if he has to respond to the expectation of the Jewish people that he's talking to that the Scriptures would be fulfilled, and so explicitly he does that and says, this is to fulfill the Scripture. Here you are. See, Luke doesn't have that concern. Talking to Gentiles, they don't have that preparation. So this is almost unique in Matthew. John has some, but they're more general. John will say that the Scripture was fulfilled or something like that, but he doesn't quote the Scripture and he doesn't use that precise formula that Matthew does.


Now along with that, you've got a particular reading of the Old Testament, which is the typical or allegorical sense. Remember we said there were four senses in the Scripture? The literal, the allegorical, and the moral and prophelogical. The typological sense is a sense of fulfillment in that you've got something in the Old Testament which is waiting to be kept, to be consummated. Waiting for its, what do you call it, archetype, right? You've got the type of the archetype. It's just waiting there. It's a vessel waiting for what is to fill it. So the vessel is the Old Testament prophecy and Jesus is the fulfillment. And bang, there you have it. Now that puts a cap, as it were, and makes a closure with the Old Testament prophecy. And Matthew's doing that all the time. So he's an interpreter of the Old Testament in this typological sense. Not so much, say, in the moral sense, or somewhat in the eschatological sense, the anagogical sense, but that's in terms of, what would you say, in terms of judgment largely.


Now this puts a cap on it, as I say, and finishes it. You can stop with that typological sense and not develop the other senses. And there is something of a tendency in Matthew to do that. And also not to interpret the Old Testament text in terms of their context. In other words, he doesn't read the Old Testament text carefully to see what it means in the Old Testament, but he pulls it out of the Old Testament, as it were, and applies it to a particular thing in the story of Jesus. Yes? How does the interpretation, there's a lot of interpretations of Jesus of the law, the leftist law in Matthew 2, that it's the fulfillment of, and how does that fit in with the interpretation of the prophet, the fulfillment of citations of prophets? He likes the word prophet a lot. And he uses the word prophet for Isaiah, for instance. Now I don't know if there really is a difference between the two, except that the two lines, say the fulfillment of the prophets and the fulfillment of the law, except that the doctrine of the law, and what would you call it,


the transformation, the evolution, the development of the law in Matthew, is a very special thing, which does have features. And we're going to talk about that. We'll get to that later. But I can talk about that, but I can't say too much about his use of prophet, because I haven't traced that one out very much. Joshua? I'd say something more than fulfillment. And it makes sense with Jeff's question about the fulfillment of the law. You have heard it said, but I say to you, add something more. That's right. Ask in these things too, in these fulfillments, there's also something more that's not yet been told to us, but will be made clear in the course. So Matthew doesn't start to finish the Old Testament, but an opening for something new with the Old Testament. There certainly is in the law a part, and I want to talk about that, because when Matthew applies the law, and he's very concerned with the law, that's his language almost. When he applies it, he turns it inside out, he turns it upside down. There's very definitely something new. There's a new law, and the new law is in continuity with the old. It maintains the old, and yet it seems completely to invert it.


So we're going to get to that. And I'm clearer on that than I am on the fulfillment text, which they do seem, I'm over-accenting that perhaps, and saying that they put a stop. But if you were a contemporary biblical exegete, you'd be very probably dissatisfied with what he does in terms of the Old Testament itself, the meaning in the Old Testament. And it goes along with the kind of theology we've had in the West of using proof texts, because he's really doing it, he's using them as proof texts. They open up to something else, but then you're almost, what would you say, you're almost beyond that text. You use the text, it's fulfilled, and then you go beyond it and see what's happening. I don't know that the interpretation of the Old Testament text itself is really brought forward into the new thing that's happening very much. But we'd have to look into that in concrete text. It's like the prophecy about a child being born in the annual. I mean, in the Old Testament text, it says in the next sentence, practically, within this generation. So it is kind of proof texting, like you said.


Yeah, isolated from the Old Testament context. Okay, now we get to relation to the Old Testament law. First of all, he has an enormous concern for the law, for the Torah in Matthew, a wonderful traditional respect for the Torah. And at the same time, there's going to be, as I say, a transformation of the Torah. He has a tendency to see Christian life in the context of the Torah, and to interpret Christianity, Christian life, as a new Torah, the teachings of Jesus as a new Torah. Secondly, the old law is replaced by a new law. So that's the other principle, the counter-principle. Matthew said, you have heard what I say to you, remember? You have heard, thou shalt not kill. But I tell you, you shall not even be angry, and so on. We're going to talk about what that means, there's an interiorizing there. But holding fast, having established this foundation, this context of Torah, context of understanding, he completely turns things around inside, of course, seems to. And it's breathtaking the way he does it in the Sermon on the Mount.


I mean, it's magnificent. You get this sweeping sense of liberation, and of something which has been there forever, and has been, what would you call it, unsatisfying. In some way has not gone all the way to its end. And then suddenly the one who comes and carries it to its end, who explains it and crosses the T, or puts the point, the period to it, in a way in which the whole thing is illuminated. In other words, the whole law makes sense when it's interpreted from its center the way Jesus does it in the Sermon on the Mount. It's magnificent, a wonderfully dramatic thing. So we've got to be very careful that we don't just see Matthew as a legalist, because he's not at all. Remember, it's only in Matthew's Gospel that Jesus will say, call no man your teacher, call no man your father, call no man your master. You've got one teacher, one father, one master, remember? That's only in Matthew. So the other side of this law thing is wisdom. The other side is the wisdom of God which comes, the consummating wisdom of God,


which comes embodied in Jesus in Matthew's Gospel. Or so a number of scholars would say, and I'm inclined to agree with them. There's a radical transformation of the Old Testament law, which nevertheless is faithful to the Old Testament law. It's in continuity with its core. It's not its termination and replacement, but its fulfillment. And of course here, when you're talking about law, fulfillment is a beginning, because it's a new principle of life in some way. It's not just saying, well, that's it. This is a quote from, what is it, Barncamp or somebody. The interpretation of the Mosaic law from its center. Matthew, like the rabbis, believes in the enduring validity of the whole of the law. But he differs from the rabbinate in that he interprets the law not from a system of hermeneutical rules, a complex system of interpretation and formal criteria, but from a central point. And Matthew thus interprets the law on the one hand by the love commandment


and on the other hand by the imitation of Jesus. So those two principles become the center which interprets the whole law. Remember the question, what is the greatest commandment? That's in all three synoptic gospels. It has particular significance in Matthew. The greatest commandment is the commandment of love, which is two and one. And you'll find that in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere, Jesus is, as it were, melting down almost a complex structure of legal and all the questions that are converging. He just melts the whole thing into its center, into the commandment of love, which is not always explicit. He's not always saying, well, there's one commandment and that's love. He only says that once or twice, or it comes out once or twice in the light of his teaching. But he's doing it all the time. He's cutting right through to the simple center. He's dissolving and cutting through all the knots and tangled questions of the law because he is coming from the center of the law


and he is himself the center of the law and somehow the whole law, if he is the embodied wisdom of God. And so one center is the commandment of love. The other center, which is the same thing, is Jesus himself as the wisdom of God and therefore the imitation of Jesus. That becomes important in Matthew. Jesus as teacher and his authority. That's the third category here. Jesus is seen as teacher in Matthew and central place is given to the sayings of Jesus. Remember that Matthew forms those five great sermons, five great discourses out of the sayings of Jesus, which elsewhere is scattered around. The five great sermons. And then the authority of Jesus. Jesus is the authoritative teacher. Where was it? I guess at the end of the Sermon on the Mount where it says, well... And they were astonished because he taught them with authority, not like their scribes. Exousia is the word, authority, which can also mean power. Jesus as the divine wisdom.


That's coming out now in the book by Suggs, which I haven't been able to get a hold of yet. But we've got this book by Burnett, The Testament of Jesus Sophia, which picks that up and applies it, of all things, to the eschatological discourse, the discourse on the end of the world, which according to Burnett, is Jesus speaking as wisdom. That wisdom then is a peculiar kind of wisdom, which is connected on the one side with the wisdom of life, the wisdom which you are given, the teaching of Jesus. On the other end of it is judgment. In other words, it's the wisdom of history, the wisdom of knowing what God's power is going to do, the wisdom of the end. The Church. Now, the Kingdom of Heaven is central in Matthew, isn't it? Remember the preaching of the Kingdom of Heaven in the beginning of John the Baptist to Jesus? Remember the parables of the Kingdom? So the central concept there is the Kingdom of Heaven. The Church is not exactly the same as the Kingdom of Heaven,


but it's closely associated with it. It's, what would you call it, the Kingdom of Heaven as manifested and available in this world, even with all its imperfection. The Church is seen as an enduring entity in the world. It's not so much a movement, but it's something that's going to stand, something that has authority, something that stands like a fortress, like a castle, like a mountain with strength, like a rock. Authority is given to the disciples by Jesus. Remember? Especially at the end, where he says, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, and so go therefore and baptize and teach all nations. And then authority, and a fundamental primary role in the Church, is given to Peter. That's in Matthew 16. So it's very concrete in Matthew. What is handed on is very concrete and tends to be interpreted in terms of ecclesial authority, Church authority.


If you are a rock, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and I give you the power and the keys, and what you shall buy shall be bound in heaven. Yes? One of the things that I spend a lot of time, when I was with my clients, was studying how those communities identify. And only in Matthew, really tremendously contrasted to Mark, is this idea of the disciples understanding everything. In Matthew, at the end of the Kingdom miracle, he asked them, Have you understood all this? And the Greek is a very emphatic, Yes, everyone understands. And there's no irony there? Well, yeah, there is irony. Matthew does, it's not as ironic as Mark's portrayal of the disciples. They seem to understand, but then they lose their understanding again and again. But in Matthew, like you said, the keys, the idea of binding and loosing, is given, these are concrete, concrete authority is given to the disciples in Matthew. As many times in the disciples, the keys, the binding and loosing, is blasted to heaven.


I don't think it's any accident that Matthew, the Gospel of Matthew is so important, and you have it from your chief group. No, I think that Matthew gives you the vision, actually, which has become the vision of the Western Church. And it is a church that's very much in this world, and which is, what we call, locked, straight, locked tightly to the Kingdom of Heaven, so that actually the expression of authority in this world, the church in this world, is valid in the other world, it's tremendous, it's very much in the Catholic Church. And that business about the disciples understanding everything, I think there's something else maybe implicit in that. I found that too, I forget who I was reading. The idea of being able to understand everything, the sense of mystery, perhaps, a little bit, it's very present in the parables, the sense of mystery, but there, the sense of mystery seems to be left behind a little bit, everything seems to be being brought out into the daylight, but at least there's that implication.


Isn't the word mystery used a lot in Matthew? It is in the chapter on parables. To you is revealed the mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven, but I don't think Matthew put that in there, that comes from Mark. But it depends on what you mean by mystery, too. There's plenty of respect for mystery in Matthew, but at times, things seem to be being brought entirely into the daylight, and that's the, I think that's the result of moving from your fundamental center of gravity to being a mystery, as in Mark, to its being teaching, the emphasis on teaching. Let's see, the divine presence after Jesus' resurrection is seen as an enduring presence of Jesus with the Church and with the disciples, and this seems to be, in terms of protection, in terms of authority, in terms of a teaching power, and so on. There's a concern with the community, with the Church, with behavior and relations within the Church. Remember there's one discourse on relations between members of the Church,


the community. Remember the thing about if your brother sins against you, go to him first, and then take somebody else with you, and then bring him before the community. That kind of thing. And the fifth category is morality. One of Matthew's basic concerns is with morality, with moral teaching, and this involves in particular these relations within the community. There's a concern for dikayasune, for justice, that's one of his favorite words, and for the just person, the just man, righteousness. So he uses that language. Now the righteousness that Jesus requires of his disciples is the greater righteousness. Remember, greater than that of the Scribes and Pharisees. So it's not the same as what they had been taught before. The essence of justice or the Christian way of discipleship is doing the will of God. That's explicit and emphatic in Matthew. And the disciples imitate Jesus,


especially in his meekness and his humility. Do you remember the central quote on that? It's 11, 27, 28. Learn of me, for I am meek and humble in heart, and you shall have rest for your souls. It's a wisdom text. And then there's this language, only in Matthew, I believe, of perfection, of being perfect. Remember the teaching about forgiveness and compassion, and as your father, and as the sun shines upon the good and the bad and the rain falls upon the just and the unjust. So you must be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect. Do you remember what Luke says in the same place? You must be compassionate as your heavenly father is compassionate. Does he say something like that? It's those two different visions. It's when you compare the different versions of something in those two Gospels that you see they're quite different visions. Teleios, perfect, is found in the synoptics only in Matthew three times. In Matthew there's an interiorizing of religion.


Now here's the counter-principle once again. We talked about a radical revolution before. And an interiorizing in a sense of bringing the law to its center. But there's an interiorizing also in a sense of bringing things to the heart. In other words, you're talking about an interior law now. You're talking about an interior principle of life. But the difference with Luke is that it's not thought of so much as an interior energy, but as an interior law, an interior teaching, an interior wisdom, rather than an interior dynamism or movement of life. Finally, judgment. Matthew is greatly concerned with the final judgment. And his vision of the church is often associated with judgment. So the church is here to be the place of the kingdom of heaven and to draw people into the sphere of the rule of God until the final judgment, until the return of the Lord and the judgment. I think these traits,


the way they've been picked out, and of course, and I've said this begging the question, it's a vicious circle because I started with that conviction, but they do crystallize around one particular center, which is a Torah Christianity. It's seen as revelation, as truth, and as wisdom, and more specifically as a new Torah. The gift being seen largely as revelation, and the revelation is mediated by the new Torah of the gospel through teaching and teachers in a stable and authoritative church until the return of the Lord and the final judgment. Now remember the paradox here. There's a tension between this mediation that's set up in Matthew's gospel, who hears you, hears me, and then that other principle, that radical revolutionary Bolshevik principle that Jesus expresses in another place where he says, no teacher, call nobody teacher, call nobody master, call nobody father. Now, that's not just an inconsistency in Matthew's thinking or vision.


It's right in the New Testament. I mean, that's in the core of Christianity, I think, that irony, that paradox, which can only be expressed by saying two different words. You can't synthesize it in a single statement, I don't think. There's a question as to what degree Matthew sees that same, what would you call it, divinizing unitive mystery that we found veiled and yet present in Mark. And we're going to find it explicit in John. And we can come back to that later. But I'm puzzled about it myself. I don't know to what extent he recognizes it. It's there because it's there in the gospel. And Matthew is a gospel and in him is everything that's in Luke. But he doesn't develop it the same way that some of the other gospels do. Okay, let's look at Luke. I'd like to look at the corresponding constellation in Luke, which I had tried to work out earlier actually. I've got a whole bunch of texts of Matthew that seem to me to be characteristic texts,


but I haven't broken them down into these categories. And that might be kind of boring anyway to connect them to all. But you've got a lot of things in Matthew that are not in Luke, of course not in Mark. Remember the teaching on fasting and prayer and almsgiving, you know, and you have heard and I tell you, that's in Matthew. There are all those antitheses in Matthew of the old teaching and the new teaching. And they have a wonderful drama and excitement about them, a sense of liberation. And then all those Matthaean parables that we talked about last time, okay, remember those, and how they are part of the personality of Matthew's gospel. And by hook or crook, I thought we were able to connect most of them to the kind of thing we're talking about that characterization of Matthew. But remember when we do this, we're suppressing the common gospel, you might say, that's in Matthew. So he's got basically the same core as the other gospels. We're talking about the distinctive elements. Okay, Luke.


I've got a series of categories here for Luke 2. And this comes from a basic prejudice as well, as you know. The first category is the Holy Spirit, which is the inner reality which polarizes and distinguishes Luke's gospel. It's the divine energy or dynamism or movement. It's also communion. It expresses itself in a cluster of corresponding terms and modes. First of all, the explicit mentions of the Holy Spirit. Remember how often Luke does that. He does it in the gospel. He does it already in the infancy narratives. He'll do it when he's talking about Jesus exalting in the Holy Spirit, remember? But then he does it all over the place in the Acts of the Apostles, which is about the Holy Spirit, which is explicitly centered in the movement of the Spirit. Then you have the divine power, the dunamis. He loves that word. We said where Matthew likes exousia, the word which is usually translated authority, Luke is especially partial to the word dunamis or power. And the power of God was there for healing and that kind of thing. Or wait here in the city until you're clothed


with power from on high. Remember that? Right at the end of Luke's gospel. Remember how in Matthew you have the authoritative Jesus saying, all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me, and implicitly I pass it on to you. And in Luke you have wait here until you're clothed with power from on high. But what does that power mean? See, that power is the energy, the imminent, intrinsic energy and dynamism and movement of the Holy Spirit. It's a different vision. There's joy, exultation in the Spirit. There's a sense of freedom and expansiveness in Luke. Now there is in Matthew too. It tends to appear in Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount where you've got this continual opening of the cage of the Torah and the way it is uninterpreted. Of the million prescriptions and niceties and so on. And Jesus unlocks the whole thing and with a breath of fresh air blows through the whole thing. In Luke, it's in these, particularly in these scenes I think, it's partly in what Jesus says but it's more in the scenes that Luke describes.


When you see Jesus in that synagogue in Nazareth and he says, the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he's anointed me to bring good news to the poor. It just raises your heart. It's just an exhilaration. It's partly Luke's artistry. It's partly his poetic narrative character. His way of bringing things alive. But that is not completely separate from what we're talking about from this dynamism of the Holy Spirit in which he's in such good touch. It's like a, what would you call it, a creative manifestation or ramification of that. Then there's the image of fire, of course. I imagine you could find a number of other images but remember the image of fire. First of all, Jesus talks about fire and baptism in Luke. But the word is also in the other gospels but not all of them. But then remember Emmaus and the fire burning in the heart. And then remember Pentecost Day in Acts 2 and the flames, the tongues of flame coming down. It's interesting. Tongues of flame and the fire


which is somehow associated with the opening of the Scriptures in the Emmaus episode. Then you've got prophecy. Luke loves the word prophet and prophecy. He tends to look at Jesus as a prophet which may seem surprising. Well, prophet has several angles to it. Of course, one angle is that the prophet is the one who looks toward the future and foretells things. But that's not the principal angle. That's secondary. The first thing is that he speaks for God. He speaks the word of God. But he's also very much the man of the spirit. He's not the man of the law. He's the man of the spirit. He's not the one who somehow teaches authoritatively, teaches the Torah so much as the one who calls people back to the true law under the influence of the spirit. The man of the wilderness and so on. But he's not the institutional person. He's the one who's out there speaking only with the authority of the interior energy that's in him, that energy of God's spirit. Then you have history. Luke is preoccupied with history. He's writing in history. He's talking about the movement of the word of God


in history. First in Jesus and the gospel and then in the disciples, in Paul and Peter and the others and in the Acts of the Apostles. He fundamentally sees it in terms of a continuing history. The history seems to be expanding. History is progression as a movement of the word. And then there's the image of the way of the journey. Very important for Luke. The journey is something on which you move, obviously. And that progression, remember, from one city to another. In Luke, it might seem to be circular in the gospel because you move from Jerusalem to Jerusalem, but when you come back to Jerusalem at the end, things are ready to explode, aren't they, when the power from on high comes. But in the Acts of the Apostles, it's a movement from where? Jerusalem to Rome by way of Antioch, the intermediate point. And Rome means the end of the world. So that's an expansive movement into the whole, into universality. There's the predominance of love and compassion in Luke's gospel. Forgiveness,


seeking the lost. There's more of a sense of outpouring, of excess, of the transgressing of boundaries, of some kind of infinitely loving and descending and compassionate and outpouring energy in Luke's gospel. We saw that especially in the parables. Remember the prodigal son and the good Samaritan and the two debtors and so on. OK, category two, this divine movement or energy or dynamism requires a correspondence or participation on the part of the human person. So in some of the parables you find a clear translation, a transposition of this energy into a persistence, an absolute quest to dedication. Remember the stubborn widow, the lost coin. It's the same energy, it's just in a different key. It's translated into another form, which reflects and participates the divine dynamism, sometimes paradoxically, as with the crooked steward, you remember. One of these responses,


one of these expressions of energy is prayer, which Luke mentions again and again and again, whether Jesus' prayer, whether Jesus' teaching on prayer, or whether somebody say Peter praying in the Acts of the Apostles when he has his vision. Discipleship is hearing and doing the word. We mentioned love and compassion and forgiveness and seeking the lost. And this excess, this transgression of boundaries, in Luke the one who is, the one who is approved is also the outsider who breaks in, or the person who breaks out. The one who somehow breaks through limits. Now you can hear the vision is different from that of Matthew, even though you can bring them pretty close together in this revolution that's inside the Sermon on the Mount. But there's a breaking of boundaries. And the sense of liberation, a lot of it comes from that. When anybody who somehow comes towards Jesus is already inside. Remember the thief on the cross? I mean the hopeless people are already inside. As soon as they turn towards Jesus. There's the necessity of almsgiving and generosity too,


remember, in Luke. And just another expression of the same thing. And this movement, historically speaking, is a third category. It's a movement into fullness, into the universality of all humanity. A movement out to the ends of the earth. And Rome paradoxically means that. It doesn't seem to mean that for us. This is expressed largely in terms of movement from place to place. So the universalism of Luke, which is more natural since he's in a Gentile situation. The transgression of boundaries in the historical metaphor. And yet, not all the time. Remember when Paul couldn't go into Asia because the spirit stopped him? And then the spirit will push him in some other direction. But basically, it's moving out to include everybody. It's no longer a Jewish community. It's no longer limited by anything like those racial or national or historical bounds. The journey, the way the road is dominant metaphor in Luke and Acts. So you're always going somewhere because you haven't got to the end. But to say you haven't got to the end means you haven't got to the whole. You haven't got to the entirety yet.


And the places, the cities, Jerusalem, Antioch, and Rome is terminized for the journey. They're associated with this way. In other words, those cities describe the points. They describe the way. They're the points through which you draw the line that is the way that moves out to the entirety of the universality. History is a progress of the divine word in the world. We mentioned that one. And this progress is a moving out until the word includes everything or reaches everything. Then the image of meal or banquet is an expression of inclusiveness. Luke loves that image of the meal. He's got a lot of meals in his Gospel. I forget who it is that writes about that at length. And that's also what you call a natural symbol of generosity, of outpouring, that kind of thing. Then the sharing of goods is an expression of koinonia. In other words, the new gift of communion which has been given in Jesus is the fundamental thing that brings people together so that they have their very being in common in some way, this new being that they've been given,


this new inner and basic being. And since that's one, everything else is negotiable. They can let go of other things. They can put their goods in common. And that becomes what would you call a sacramental expression of a new gift of the oneness, the unity of gifts that they've been given in the Spirit. The fourth category is a kind of reversal. This movement of outpouring of divine grace or love of mercy, which is a movement of fullness and into fullness, requires in its recipient an emptiness. And so you've got this exigency of poverty in the written Luke, which you don't find in Matthew, not in the same way. There's a kind of absoluteness about it. Do you remember when we were yesterday, don't take anything, don't take any bag, don't take any staff, not a second shirt, and so on. And it's much stronger in Luke. And it's got something to do with this. It's almost like the inverse. It's almost like the concave figure that corresponds to the convex figure


of the outpouring. And even in order to be a vessel of that outpouring, to express that outpouring, you have to be empty in some way. And then the parables, remember, the rich fool and the rich man and Lazarus and those things. Poverty and humility, poverty and beatitude demand for self-empty. And then finally, and mysteriously, this energy of the Holy Spirit which distinguishes Luke's gospel has an affinity for qualities of the corresponding feminine side of humanity. It's as if somehow Luke, if you compare Matthew and Luke, to me it seems that Matthew is on the more masculine side, the side of still some kind of framework of structure, of order, or the cognitive side you could almost say, given the side of wisdom. Whereas Luke is on the feminine side. Now the feminine side almost is movement itself, is like energy itself. On one level it's feeling. On another level it's aesthetic sensibility. On another level


it's compassion or love. Or what would you say, the poignancy, the tenderness of relationship that you see in Luke. In the infancy narrative scenes, the visitation is one. Yeah? That's right. That's right. And it goes with it. I think the way that he paints these scenes, the way that he presents his scenes is tremendously intuitive. There's an artistic intuition which is pulling the right things into the right relationship to create something. Not rationally and logically so much as by a magical aesthetic intuition. Also there's the connection of the psyche in some way. What we call the psyche nowadays in Luke, which goes along with the feminine side. But the infancy narrative, remember we contrasted the infancy narratives in Luke with those in Matthew and they're much more feminine in Luke, which is obvious enough. Yes? One of the things you said that helped a lot was when you said Mark is kind of pre-reflective.


Yeah. Because one of the things that helped me to understand that gospel a little more is it's directed more at individuals than personal decisions. It's kind of a gospel of crisis. Yeah, that's good. Personal confrontation and corruption is a good word. It has less to do with the community. The community is important but the community is always related only to Jesus, not to what the disciples are doing or what anyone else is doing. It's Jesus' personal confrontation of all the disciples of the person reading the gospel. It's like Mark in a number of ways represents the first moment. The first moment of baptism, the first moment of conversion, the crisis moment of conversion, the first moment of before the church is beginning to think of itself as something apart from that first moment. There are other moments like the charismatic moment tends to be that way too, to set itself into the first moment, the moment of baptism in the Holy Spirit. And sometimes


that can be made everything, but in Mark you really are at the beginning. So it's not a suppression. And everything, it's like everything is contained, everything is latent, everything is still in the bag where the bag hasn't been opened so that all the things can come out and differentiate themselves. But they're all in there. And he appreciates that mystery and keeps its integrity. He keeps the whole thing there. He doesn't have a preconception that amputates certain things, at least it doesn't seem to. You're called to faith or you're rejected by people. Just like people outside of the, very much outside of a modern society like a emerging woman and all these unclean people. People coming to Jesus from outside are the only ones who understand. And then it breaks through. I believe that's slanted also against the baptismal thing. I take a baptismal opening at the end. In other words, you don't understand anything until that's happened. You don't understand anything until the resurrection somehow. Because it's


simply veiled until then. And the people who are outside don't understand. They understand in the sense that they see the fullness of Jesus in some way, I think, but they don't understand it perhaps in an articulate way either. How much they do understand it, I don't know. But there's always that dialectic of the insider and the outsider. So the disciples have to be humiliated in the face of the outsider, and so on. Because that's something that's being put into the Church. That principle, that self-inverting principle, that corrected principle, that ironic principle, has to be grafted into the organism of the Church forever, and so it's there, as in all the Gospels. Okay, that's the cluster, basically, for Luke. A few more in this final category of the feminine side. Just the appearance of woman and of the feminine in Luke,


and it seems the feminine woman seems to express herself more in Luke's Gospel, seems to be more herself, more at home, seems to be able to fill the space, or fill the scene, or as you have in the infancy narrative scene, especially the Visitation, I think, is sort of doubly feminine in a way, but that's not the only one. And then immediate experience reflected through narrative scenes. There's that sense of the communication of immediate experience through poetry, through, here it's a narrative poetry, and a narrative poetry of images, which is able, out of words, to bring a visual scene alive somehow, so that it becomes radiant for you, and somehow communicates something of the experience that was there in the beginning, something of what's in the heart and mind of Luke himself. So he was given that legendary title of painter, I don't know whether it's because of the quality of the Gospel, I presume it is.


Luke is a master storyteller, as a narrative poet. His scenes are luminous very often, especially the scenes that are centered in Jesus. You just feel that light and that warmth coming out of Jesus. Somebody said that the, for instance, the story of Emmaus is maybe the greatest story in the Bible or something like that. People say that kind of thing. I remember Fr. Bernard was telling us that in a homily, was reading it to us one time. I don't like those kinds of ratings, I don't think they're appropriate. When you say something is absolutely supreme, at one point it's absolutely supreme, then you have to put everything else in the shade. I don't think that's the way it works because I think any scene in the Bible can open up to you and touch you and become, for that magic moment, become the greatest scene in the Bible because the presence is there, the presence of the Spirit and of the divine wisdom is there at every point. But it certainly is marvelous, and so are a number of the other stories, or the parables. The parable of the prodigal son, what a story that is,


what a story that is, that can make you weep time after time after time. And that's not just art, but that's a kind of inspired art. In other words, the Holy Spirit somehow has been able to express itself through the mode of poetry, through the mode of words, which becomes then a kind of projection of a visual thing. Okay, we won't be able to do much more, if anything, more with Matthew and with Luke. I should allow a little time for possible questions. I'm always thinking about these four versions of the mystery and the four Gospels, okay, and this morning this is the way it lined itself up for me, that in Mark you have the baptismal mystery, the Christ-fulness experienced within oneself in baptism, and that is the climax and the center of the whole thing, and almost being


unverbalized. It's not developed. It's not explicitly developed the way it is already in Paul. See, Paul develops that. He draws all kinds of things out of that, makes it very explicit. Mark doesn't. It's veiled, and then at the end, bang, the whole thing leads up to that experience, but you don't have reflection about it afterwards. In Matthew, the mystery of wisdom, the fullness of the kingdom known in the teachings of the person of Jesus, who is the wisdom of God. In Luke, and the law and the teaching becomes interiorized in you, but in Luke it becomes interiorized in a different way. See, the wisdom of God is interiorized in you as a wisdom within you now, which is able to, as it were, fuse all of the questions and issues that were covered by the law into a single principle of life, which is marvelous. But in Luke, that single principle of life is an energy rather than a wisdom. It's an energy rather than a wisdom of the law. So you have in Luke


the imminent mystery of the spirit, the fullness experienced in the divine energy of the spirit, both within oneself and within the movement of saving history. It's both inside you and it's around you. So you're moving in this flow of the spirit and the world, but it's also, it's that fire in your heart that interprets the word, it's the fire that becomes love, it becomes the desire for God, it becomes the principle of what you do. And finally, in John, we have the unitive mystery of the I am, which is all reality, the cosmos, history, and the self permeated and illuminated by the uncreated unitive life in the Christ center, pardon the clogged language, but we'll talk about that next time. In John, it seems to pull together, it pulls together in something like, in Luke you've got movement, a breakthrough into movement, the translation of the whole of the gospel into movement, so that it's an energy inside you, an energy in the world. And in John it seems to stop again, it seems to stop, but it stops not in a way of


something that's static, there's another kind of immobility there, an immobility of the depth of the rooting of something in the center, in the source, in the ultimate reality. So that the, what's there before you, what's gathered together, and as it were stands there, like the sun, is full of energy itself. Okay, next time we'll say something about John's gospel and then one John, and as I said, I urge you to read the first letter of John before our next session. Any questions or comments or anything before we conclude today? Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.