Freeing the Captives - A Meditation on the Feast of St Luke

We can never get too much of the message and lesson of St Luke and can never read too often the story of Jesus announcing his purpose to the world in Luke’s gospel.

Luke himself was a rather murky figure, as all the Gospel writers were. He was named as a companion of Paul, in fact Paul’s letters tell us that Luke was with him right up to the end of Paul’s story and probably his life. And how fitting,and what a blessing, to have a physician as a companion in one’s last days.

But of course, in celebrating St Luke we are reminded that the point is to celebrate his witness to Jesus. He is like a finger pointing to the moon.  Jesus himself is both evangelist and physician, a healer, God’s agent, sent to make us all whole.

Jesus says that he came to bring good news to the poor and to set the captives, the people who are oppressed, free.  He brings sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf and mobility to the lame.  In the Psalm for today, we hear about binding up the broken hearted, which Jesus adds in the parallel passage to this one in the Gospel of Mark. These are all echoes of themes in the Hebrew Bible about how salvation will be seen and understood by all when they see the lame walk and the blind see.

And we want to be made whole, ourselves. We want healing from our infirmities and and our frailties.

But see how Jesus expands the notion of healing.  It’s not just physical healing, but it’s freedom.  Freedom from all kinds of things that bind us.  

Some of us, and some of those we love, are bound by physical ailment and illness.  

But others, others whom we might not know, are bound by other things.  They are bound by mental illness, they are bound by injustice and prejudice, they are pushed down or pushed aside - maybe because they are old or ill or disabled, maybe because they lack education or don’t speak our language, maybe because they are slaves to one addiction or another, maybe because they were born in poverty and have never been able to escape it.  Maybe they are pushed aside because they are “not like us” and we despise them or we are afraid of them or we have judged and condemned them and want them out of our way.  There are many people in our world who have no one to stand up for them.

And Jesus says, I’ve come for those people.  I’ve come for the lost, I’ve come for the disheartened, I’ve come for the ones on the margins, I’ve come for the despised.  I will stand up for those no one else will stand up for.  And that's the good news.

And the healing that Jesus wants for those he has come for is made manifest in a new way; it’s a new kind of healing.  A healing of our whole world, a restoration of those who have been pushed aside back into society where they will be loved and cared for like everyone else.  

Jesus is not just about making sick people well but about making the world whole, about freeing those society pushes down and restoring them to community because in Jesus’ view, the world is not right if there are people on the margins.  We are not whole if we do not know and love all of our sisters and brothers and desire their restoration to us.

And so you see how we can never get enough of this message because for most of us it’s a hard one.  Most of us are not on the margins and we don’t mean to be unconcerned with those who are, but our days are full and we sometimes forget.  We forget not only those who are often invisible to us but we also forget that we, too, will be free when we let go of our judgment and prejudice and fear and desire to keep the marginalized on the margins where they will not disturb us.

But Jesus doesn’t forget. Thanks be to God.


Nan said…
Powerful message, Penny. Thank you.