Read the four gospel accounts regarding the ministry of Jesus and you will find four distinct themes within the pages of His Life, reaching four different groups of people, all ready to receive God’s hidden promises, revealed in Christ, and realized in man (cf the Mystery of the Church - Col. 1: 24-26). The goal is the same; its the path to God that varies according to the authors’ discrepancies which becomes universal for all humanity.
Without analyzing the various themes of each, let’s look at the one that reaches to the downtrodden, disenfranchised, and those living in obscurity until the Gentiles find reason for hope from One who cares in a manner not even dreamed until God’s Incarnation rises above the never-seen-before action of Creation’s reason for the chosen; Humanity!
To set the progression of Luke’s style as to his theme regarding the poor, I have inserted four sections of his Gospel Account with a comment to each.
“He has shown might with His arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones, but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.” Lk. 1: 51-53. The first of four pronouncements Luke presents to us within his Gospel where the theme of Jesus’ mission was to the poor. See how Mary also plays a very prominent place beginning with the visitation and the Magnificat.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” Lk. 4: 18-19. Within the proclamation see the parallel with Mary’s Magnificat; concern for those who are downtrodden.
“Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.” Lk. 6: 20-23. Notice the difference between the Beatitudes of Matthew and Luke; Similar in essence, but different wherein Luke directs his to the poor and lonely.
“Go tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me. “ Lk. 7: 22-23. Throughout his gospel account Luke takes direct aim at those who have always been on the fringe of society, close but never entering that circle of acceptance.
Who are the poor among us? In the 21st century there still are many; one may even be sitting across from you at lunch, making you feel uncomfortable by the way they dress, or smell. Look at the family member who has become obnoxious due to addiction or attitude so different than your own. And of course, that neighbor that drives an older car called a rattle-trap and you wonder why the police haven’t arrested the owner for cluttering up your neighborhood. After all, you have an appearance to hold-up when visitors come to the multi-expensive castle you live in.
Again, let me reiterate that statement as to the different themes of the four gospel accounts. Luke hits our conscience with the very words of Jesus; Blessed are you when people hate you…… Remember that the love Jesus promotes can sometimes be more difficult to find adherence with rather than just going to Church on Sunday, dropping your money in the basket, and once outside brushing your hand across your forehead saying, whew; glad that’s over for another week.
Where are the poor among us is a better question that is so easy to find; in the workplace, the home, and of course those we must rub shoulders with, constantly. They are there! Do we recognize them?