The first part of our Gospel this Sunday is like the introduction to a book, which is great since this is only the second Sunday of our new liturgical year, Year C, the Gospel of Luke year. So we hear about characters who will turn up again later in Luke’s account of Jesus’ life: Pontius Pilate, Annas and Caiaphas, Herod, and John the Baptist. Luke puts the words of Isaiah 40:3-6 on John’s mouth — a welcome contrast to the fearful words of last week’s Gospel about persecutions and trials! Every valley shall be filled … winding roads shall be made straight and rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. These last words introduce another of Luke’s themes: Jesus’ good news is not meant only for his own beloved Hebrews but for the whole world. Scripture scholars tell us that the same author wrote both this Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, which describes how Gentiles begin to be welcomed into the first early Jewish Christian communities. But welcoming all is a challenge for us still, isn’t it? We live in a church and world polarized between liberal and conservative, and one divided North and South, and between rich nations and poor ones, divided along racial lines. Instead of feeling one with others, we feel divided from them and perhaps even threatened. This Gospel invites us to hear Jesus saying “fear not” as we engage in prayer about these complex issues, and take small actions to become more welcoming.
– Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia