OK, let’s change that to Happy New Liturgical Year! Its less snappy but avoids the confusion.
The Church has a set calendar, which determines what readings are heard at masses every day of the year, all over the world. This is one of many ways in which we are part of a universal Church; every time we go to Mass or read the readings of the day (as you can here), we read and pray about the same readings as every other Christian all over the world. Like St Paul said, we are all part of one body- the Church- and God speaks to us both as a whole and individually every day in the readings.
As you may have discovered if you’ve ever picked up a Bible (if you haven’t, I can recommend it), there is a lot of it to read! So the Church breaks it down into useful chunks which are just enough for us to take in in one sitting. This way, we have enough readings to last us for three years before we repeat ourselves! These three years are called Year A, Year B and Year C. We start a new year on the First Sunday of Advent, which was this last Sunday- hence the title of this blog!
We have just entered Year C, which takes most of its Sunday Gospels from Luke’s Gospel.
St Luke is believed to have been born around the time of the birth of Jesus, and by trade was a doctor. We know this because St Paul refers to him as ‘our friend Luke, the Doctor’, in his letter to the Colossians. Luke did not know Jesus during Jesus’ life on Earth, but rather came to be a Christian after hearing of Jesus through St Paul. Luke is understood to have travelled with Paul and learnt all about Jesus’ life, ministry and teachings. Being an educated man, he was able to write them down in a book we now know as Luke’s Gospel! Few people were able to write in these times, and fewer had the money to buy ink and papyrus (paper) to write with.
Luke did not only write his Gospel, he also wrote the book of the Bible called ‘The Acts of the Apostles’. This book documents the adventures and trials of the apostles and their companions, spreading the good news of Jesus in the years and decades after the resurrection. People who have studied the Bible recognize the similar writing style of the authors of the two books, and in Acts the author refers to ‘my earlier work’. The Acts of the Apostles is a Testament to the power of the Apostles’ belief in Jesus; they were willing and ready to go to the ends of the Earth, to be discriminated against, imprisoned and even put to death for their belief. But they knew, as we know now, that Jesus is the truth, and He was with them as He is with us today. We can take so much inspiration from the Apostles for our own lives!
In his two books, St Luke gives us a big chunk of the total Bible. He is a really important source of information about the life of Jesus and the actions of the early Church. I hope you enjoy hearing more from him on the Sundays of this next year!