Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Advent Week 2 Tuesday

Readings: Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 96; Matthew 18:12-14

We are so familiar with this example of the shepherd who leaves ninety-nine sheep in order to go in search of one stray that we fail to see how irrational it probably is. Of course if the ninety-nine are safe or are being cared for by someone else then it makes sense that the shepherd will try to find a stray. But if that is not the case, and there is the risk of losing even more of them, he will surely cut his losses and take care of the ones remaining. If the stray does then turn up of course it is an extra joy, and will feel like a bonus. But the thought of leaving ninety-nine at risk to go in search of one seems a bit crazy.

And that is the point. Luke brings it out more clearly in his version where he combines it with the story of a woman who lost a coin and searched high and low until finally she found it only to spend at least as much on a party to celebrate its recovery. And the third unbelievable story in that triad in Luke 15 is, of course, the story of the Prodigal Son, received back by his father with love and celebrations.

In modern times people often contrast faith and reason as if they were opposed to each other, which of course they are not. The real contrast generated by the gospels, however, is not so much between faith and reason as it is between love and reason. Saint Catherine of Siena talks about the madness of the Divine Love, how crazily in love with His creatures God is.

The beautiful love song that is today's first reading from the prophet Isaiah sings of this crazy love of God. Now the highway through the wilderness is not for the people returning from Babylon to Jerusalem, it is for the Lord returning to Jerusalem to dwell once more with His people. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, Isaiah says, or, in another translation, speak to the heart of Jerusalem. It is a time for tenderness and a fresh start, for gentle shepherding and warm care, a time to experience once again the everlasting love of God.

The contrast between the lovers is extraordinary, on the one hand a people that is poor flesh, as enduring as the grass, here today and gone tomorrow. On the other hand is the infinite and eternal God, creator of all things, whose word stands forever and whose love is constantly searching to turn the heart of His people back to Him.

'Let creation rejoice' is another cry of the Advent season. Nature always sings for lovers: the hills are radiant and the trees dance, the rain is playful and the sea thunders praise, the meadows rejoice and even the animals know something special is going on. This is the world being transformed by the presence of God's glory, a glory He wants us to see and to share. We do it by turning again towards Him and learning His ways anew, by opening our hearts to the comfort and tenderness of our Good Shepherd.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Advent Week 2 Monday

Readings: Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 84; Luke 5:17-26

From time to time during Advent we hear about the great highway which will be constructed to facilitate the return of the people to Jerusalem from their exile in Babylon. Restored to their own land they will once again rejoice in the presence of God with them. The valleys will be filled in and the mountains brought low, the way will be wide and direct, facilitating their return, and making their journey easy. The blind will see and the lame will walk.

In today's first reading this highway is referred to as the 'Sacred Way'. Other ancient cultures had Sacred Ways. There is one in China, for example, connected with the journey of the Emperors to heaven. There is one in Greece, from Athens to Eleusis, the way to the joyful celebration of religious mysteries. And there is one just ten minutes from where I live, the Via Sacra that runs through the Roman Forum, from the Colosseum to the Capitol.

There is a striking contrast between the Roman Sacred Way and the one spoken about in the reading from Isaiah. The Via Sacra was the final stage of the triumphant journey made by victorious Roman generals as they returned with their booty, their captured kings, their enemies enslaved. The rejoicing along that road was at the humiliation and weakness of others. The triumph celebrated the power and glory of Roman military might, culminating in the execution of many of the captives, thrown to their deaths from the Capitol.

Isaiah's Sacred Way is also about triumph and rejoicing but not at all 'alla Romana'. Here no enemy is needed to support the rejoicing. If anybody has been defeated it is the people themselves in their sinfulness and forgetfulness of God. The road is open to everyone and is not about humiliation and the despising of weakness. On the contrary it is about life and new strength and a welcome not just for God's chosen people but for all the peoples of the earth who will come from east and west, from north and south, to take their places on Mount Zion.

Today's gospel reading can be brought in also. There are obstacles for people getting to Jesus. How are they to find the way to the Way? A crowd of people prevents the paralysed man getting to Him. In fact the paralysed man needs the help of others if he is to have any hope of getting to him. And his friends engage in a piece of pastoral creativity, opening the roof and letting him down directly into the presence of Jesus.

A few thoughts here. Will we have the humility to allow ourselves to be helped along the way? Of course we want to walk on our own two feet, to find our way to God by ourselves. But inevitably we need the help of others and will we be ready to accept it? We need the help of the Church, the community of those who believe in Jesus. (It could be that the friends who bring the man to Jesus are the first apostles, recently called, and getting down to their task. It could be also that the crowd preventing access to Jesus can also be understood as the Church: the scandalous lives of believers are a major stumbling block for people.)

Another thought: where is the place, in ourselves, that will be ready to open so that we can be in the presence of Jesus? The most difficult of the deadly sins are the ones that close us down and cut us off, imprisoning us within ourselves: pride, anger, and envy. What is needed if we are to open up? What is needed if we are not to despise weakness in ourselves but are to be gracious and humble in accepting how God works for us through others?

In John's gospel Jesus describes himself as 'the Way' and it is one of the names used for the primitive Christian movement in the Acts of the Apostles. Advent invites us to search again for the way, to return to the Lord, to reflect on the things that prevent this return, the things that paralyse us and block our access to Jesus. Advent reminds us also that there are people who can give us directions, who are travelling the way before us and with us.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Advent Sunday 2 (Year C)

Readings: Baruch 5:1-9; Psalm 126; Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11; Luke 3:1-6

The public history of the world helps us to pin down another history. The record of great events and important personalities has woven into it another history, the history of the Word of God and of the relationship between the world and God. So it was in the reign of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, Kings of Judah, that the Word of God came to the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz. In the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah, King of Judah, the Word of God came to Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah, and continued to come to him until the eleventh year of the reign of Zedekiah, King of Judah. In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, the Word of God came to John the Baptist, son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. It might seem that this history of salvation depends on the framework of 'secular' history within which it is found but the reality is the opposite: it is the history of salvation - creation, covenant, promise, redemption, expectation - that sustains the world's history. The events and personalities of the sacred history, even if they made little impact on public history, are the ones of greatest significance for the meaning of this world's history.

So how goes it now, this career of the Word of God in the world, this relationship between the world's people and God the Creator and Redeemer? In some places it will be going very well, in the lives of some individuals and communities who allow its power to touch and correct and transform their lives. For other individuals and communities it is in danger of being forgotten, or at least its power is doubted. The readings today talk about the importance of remembering. In the reading from Baruch, the sons of Israel, gathered to the east (the wilderness, where the Baptist was later to appear) were jubilant because God had remembered them. Of course this is the fundamental remembering on which our hope is established, not that we remember God but that God remembers us.

Paul tells the Philippians that he remembers them each day, their communion in the gospel, their shared life. And he is very tender and emotional in telling them how much he misses them and longs for them 'in the entrails of Jesus Christ' (sometimes translated 'in the bowels of Christ' - it is a reference to compassion, or to what we might call an experience 'in the guts').

And the Baptist preaches a baptism of repentance, a call to remember and to call to mind who you are, where you have come from, what it is you have received, what it is you are called to. How wonderful it is to be remembered, to be thought about, for someone to say 'I have missed you' - in other words you have been in my thoughts even while you have been absent. This is how Paul speaks to his community at Philippi, and this is how we are to understand God in relation to us: remembering us, keeping us in mind - dare we say it? - missing us. As Paul has been personally involved with the Philippians, God is personally involved with his people.

We are in it together with God, his fate in the world is ours and our fate in the world is his. His glory is our glory and our glory is his glory. This is what this communion means. We are tied together, in a communion of shared life, because the Word became flesh. Just as in the time of the prophets and in the time of the Baptist there were great public events and personalities, so in our own time there is the public history, the events and people who count, who make the news. But there is also, deeper down and for the most part hidden, the continuing history of the career of God's Word in the world, of God's presence with his people, of their continuing relationship.

How goes it then with our koinonia, our shared life, shared between us and with God? Advent is a time to think hard about this question.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary - 8 December

Readings: Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Psalm 98; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12: Luke 1:26-38  

Mariology is the part of theology that studies what the Scriptures and the Christian tradition teach us about Mary and her place in the history of our salvation. For the great Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner the Church's Mariology is simply the most beautiful part of its theology of grace.

In fact the Christian tradition has found in the single phrase 'full of grace' everything about Mary that subsequently emerged in the liturgical and devotional life of the Church. What emerged in the course of tradition was eventually incorporated in the Church's teaching with the solemn declarations of her Immaculate Conception and her bodily Assumption into heaven.

'Full of grace' - it is the name she bears in view of her mission, the one who is highly favoured, greatly blessed. She is to be the mother of the Lord and in that sense, pregnant with Him, she is full of grace. But in being prepared for that role, and in being sustained through the joys and sadnesses of it, she was always favoured and blessed, supported by the Eternal Trinity. She was sustained in her work of bearing, rearing and teaching her son, in her work of following him not just physically to Calvary but spiritually as the first disciple, the one who heard the Word of God and believed it and kept it and practised it.

The grace of Mary is personal to herself and to her mission in the Church. But it is also paradigmatic of the grace God bestows on His Bride, the Church. This Marian grace - of hearing and conceiving the Word, of meditating and treasuring it in our hearts, of bearing it into the world and carrying it to others - this is a grace of the entire Christian people. It is why Mary is called also Mother of the Church. Just as her Son is her image, so too the Church, His body, reflects in its life and activity, her life and activity in the service of God's Word.

In this work of new creation there is always the collaboration of the human creature with the designs and actions of God. It is to be repeated often: the first creation involves only the speaking of God: 'let there be light, and there was light'. The new creation involves also the speaking of human beings: 'let what you have said be done to me'. Mary is also the first to teach us this, that our co-operation with God's grace is an essential part of how the new creation comes about and of what the new creation means.

A fear of human beings in modern times is that the coming of Christ and of God will somehow threaten our freedom, weaken it and perhaps even make it redundant. Mary teaches us that the opposite is the case. To be 'full of grace' is to enter into a new space of freedom. To be 'full of grace' means not placing any obstacle, not even the slightest one, to the working of God's grace in us and through us. To be 'full of grace' does not mean losing our freedom in order to be completely at the disposal of God as blind instruments. To be 'full of grace' means gaining that freedom so as to be completely at the disposal of God, but to be at his disposal as the creatures that we are, intelligent and free, responsive and understanding, loving and creative.

To be 'full of grace' is not to lose anything of our dignity or our freedom. It is rather to enter into full possession of that dignity and of that freedom. It makes us to be children of God, living in communion with Him, sharing the life of the family that God is, and so being available with all our energy for the service of God's kingdom of love, justice and peace.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Advent Week 1 Friday

Readings: Isaiah 29:17-24; Psalm 27; Matthew 9:27-31

If we look first to the gospel readings at Mass during this first week of Advent it seems like a hodgepodge of unconnected readings taken from here, there, and everywhere in the gospels. What connects the readings? Why this selection this week? The solution to the problem seems to be that we should look first to the first reading during this first week of Advent and see there the thread or theme that holds the week together and that guides also the choice of gospel readings.

The first reading each day is from Isaiah, and from those first chapters of Isaiah where we find some of the great and classical messianic texts of the Old Testament. We hear about the One who is to come, the Messiah, a Saviour and Redeemer, who comes to restore and to renew life, all life and in particular human life, and human life in its fulness, which means life in relationship with God.

So from today's first reading we see that when Messiah comes the poor are helped, the humble rejoice, the blind see, the deaf hear, the dumb speak, the oppressed are set free ... these are the works of the Messiah, the practical ways in which His mission to restore and to renew life is translated into the individual lives of particular individuals. His coming will inaugurate a time of new and exceptional fertility.

The works of Jesus are clearly these works of the Messiah. In today's gospel reading he heals not one but two blind men. So often his miracles mean restoring the fundamental capacities for the fulness of life that human beings have. Not that they cannot have a fulness of life without these faculties, just that it is easier for them if they have them.

We might have imagined that such work would be met by universal rejoicing and acceptance but for reasons perverse and comprehensible - we all know sin in ourselves - it is not so and the steps of the Messiah are dogged by the ruthless and the mockers, the fearful and the complainers, and the work of making it possible for human beings to have life in its fulness inevitably takes the way of the cross.

But for the moment we are moving too quickly ahead, even though the ingredients of the final drama of Jesus' life are already given here. For now let us keep thinking about the little child who will come to lead us into a kingdom of justice and of peace, and later see how we can shoulder with him the crosses that need to be carried if the life of that kingdom is to be realised in our particular lives.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Advent Week 1 Thursday

Readings: Isaiah 26:1-6; Psalm 118; Matthew 7:21, 24-27

It is the simplest of parables, more an analogy than a parable: the one who builds his house on a rock is wise since the house will stand up to all kinds of weather, whereas the one who builds his house on sand is foolish because the house will not stand up to very much weather.

What 'building one's house on rock' means is a bit more abstract: it is 'doing the will of the Father', not just hearing it, receiving it, understanding it, perhaps even agreeing with it. Wisdom means living in accordance with the Father's will and putting into practice what that will desires.

The link with today's first reading is the word 'rock'. Isaiah too speaks about a Rock to which men and women can look for security, strength and safety, and he tells us immediately that the Lord is the Rock. Another way of saying the same thing, then, and Jesus is, once again, standing in the line of the prophets of Israel: wisdom means building your house, establishing your life, on the Rock that is the Father, the God of Israel. Foolishness means neglecting to do this and choosing some other foundation for your life. Whatever that other foundation might be it is equivalent to sand since sooner or later some kind of challenge will disturb it, subvert it and bring it down.

We can add two further glosses. The city, even if initially built strong and secure on the Lord, can be brought down by human pride. It seems to be the only thing that can bring down a city originally built on the Lord who is our Rock. If we turn to pride and injustice we effect a kind of 'transfoundationalism', substituting for the original foundation an inferior one, equivalent to sand, and so the city can be brought low. There is a temptation to pride that goes with the building of any human city. Witness Babel. Witness all the projects and plans, empires and achievements, that have turned sour and collapsed because of injustice, greed and pride. Babylon, the great city. The empires of the Book of Daniel that have arisen, swaggered for a bit, and then collapsed. So we must continue to build on the humility of God not on the pride of man.

The other gloss is this: if we are to do what the Father wills, what is it? We are told in the Scriptures that God wants all men to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth. We are told that God's will is that Jesus should lose nothing of what he has been given by the Father.  God's will is that all who see Jesus and come to believe in Him should have eternal life. So to work for these things is to act according to the Father's will: working for human salvation, working that all might come to know the truth, working that all might belong to Jesus, working that all might come to see and believe in Jesus.

So building our house on rock means entering into the missionary desire of God, acting and living in ways that will attract and enable people to come to know the Father, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. This is eternal life, Jesus tells us in Saint John's gospel, and it is God's will that all men and women should have eternal life. Our task is to collaborate with God in this work and we do that best in acting justly, loving tenderly and walking humbly with our God.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

The Year of Luke - Talk Three


Luke's infancy narrative introduces a set of themes that echo through the gospel and through Acts of the Apostles also. Among these themes is one that gives a particular character to Luke and Acts. Although it is found in many texts of the New Testament, the term for grace, charis, is used most frequently by just two of its authors, the author of Luke-Acts and Paul. In Luke it is often associated with a related term, chara, meaning joy. We turn next, then, to a consideration of Luke's use of charis and of its association particularly with joy.


The best-known combination of these terms in Luke's gospel is in the angel's opening words to Mary, chaire kecharitomene, 'hail, full of grace' or 'rejoice, highly favoured one'. There has been debate about whether or not the first term, chaire, is simply a greeting - 'hail', 'hello' - or is a call to joy, the introduction of a Messianic, 'Daughter of Sion', proclamation. It may simply mean 'hello' or 'cheers', in the way such terms are used as greetings nowadays without reference to their original, stronger, meaning. Or it may have a deeper significance, associating this moment with messianic texts of the Old Testament. The latter is more likely when we consider the atmosphere of joy that fills the infancy narratives: 'you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth' (Luke 1:14); 'the angel said to them, 'Be not afraid; for behold I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people'' (Luke 2:10); 'when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy' (Matthew 2:10).

Many of the great messianic texts of the Old Testament associate the new outpouring of God's grace with an outpouring of joy. Examples are Isaiah 64:17f; Zechariah 2:10f and Zephaniah 3:14-17. The atmosphere of joy evoked by these texts flows into the infancy narratives, especially that of Luke. Is Mary being introduced to us as the Daughter of Sion of whom Zechariah and Zephaniah spoke? Raymond Brown is not convinced that she is and he writes about it as follows:

Of course, the typical expectation of divine deliverance vocalized by Zephaniah, or indeed by Zechariah ... played a role in Luke's outlook - but that expectation is a distillation of a whole series of OT passages and not evidence of a particular symbolism. Since Luke's chaire leads into the homonym kecharitomene ('O favoured one') and a reference to God's favour in sending the Messiah who is His Son, there may well be an element of religious rejoicing in it - but it is a joy that comes from the context of the annunciation, and not because chaire should be given an unusual translation which evokes an OT passage (The Birth of the Messiah, p.324).

The other key term in the greeting is a form of the term charis, 'grace'. In the New Testament this particular form of the word appears only here and in Ephesians 1:6 where it is translated as God 'gracing' or 'blessing' us. The theological portrait of Mary given to us by Luke is characterised by the action of the Holy Spirit, by joy, grace, and faith. The emphasis is on the divine benevolence to Mary. For the moment God's graciousness towards her is acknowledged: the meaning of her privilege is yet to be announced.

One interesting suggestion is that kecharitomene is Mary's vocational name, a new and prophetic name (Revelation 2:17; 19:12) like Gideon's 'Valiant Warrior', Simon's 'Peter', or Jacob's 'Israel'. The rest of the Annunciation scene makes explicit what is contained in this name, the singular love of God for Mary in the strength of which she is chosen to be mother of the Messiah. This is her mission and her privilege, and it is the meaning of her name. It is sheer grace to Mary. Being graced is, we can say, her very name, the essence of who she is. Her response is faith: as one who, it seems clear, always belonged to the 'poor of the Lord', she receives God's grace with humility, accepts the mission entrusted to her, and responds with faith in God and service of others.

Many of the themes associated with grace are to be found in Luke 1:26-38, the account of the Annunciation. God initiates another new moment in the history of his dealings with Israel and with the House of David. God is faithful and does new things, and a new and definitive intervention by God is underway. 'The Lord is with you', Mary is told, and 'you have found favour with God'. Christian tradition takes it to refer to the ways in which God has already worked in the heart and soul of Mary, preparing her to be the Mother of the Son of God. And this new creation does not take effect without the consent of the human being: 'let what you have said be done to me'. Karl Barth stressed the essential significance of the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus, essential for maintaining the absolute gratuitousness of salvation: 'it is all God's work'. The great tradition focused intensely on Mary's 'fiat', her words 'let it be', with teachers and preachers speaking and writing about the moment when all creation waits expectantly, with anxious anticipation, for the Virgin's response. And the relief of all creatures when she says 'let it be done to me according to your word', for the work in which she has agreed to collaborate has implications for all of creation.

Mary is highly favoured in receiving this revelation of the Son; more than that she is highly favoured in being the mother of the Messiah. She is a model of the Church and of the Christian in her attitude to what has been revealed and to what has been asked of her. Karl Rahner wrote that the doctrines about Mary are only 'the most beautiful part of the doctrine of grace'.

If the Annunciation is the beginning of New Testament grace it is also the fulfilment of Old Testament joy. The most joyful experiences spoken of in the Old Testament are all repeated in the Annunciation to Mary. The barren woman is found to be with child. So it is with Sarah bearing Isaac (Genesis 18.1-15; 21.1-7), with Hannah bearing Samuel (1 Samuel 1.1-2.11), with the wife of Manoah bearing Samson (Judges 13) and with Elizabeth bearing John the Baptist (Luke 1.5-25,57-80). In one way Mary stands in this tradition while in another she does not since her 'barrenness' is of quite a different kind ('how can this be since I am a virgin?'). It is more clearly a work of new creation rather than a miraculous healing of the old creation.

Another great moment of joy re-enacted in the Annunciation are the people's liberation from slavery - the great redemptive act, when God saved his people - Exodus 15 - and brought them to the promised land under Joshua - Joshua 3.1-5.12 - and continued to promise them salvation - Isaiah 9.2-3. To be in God’s presence is to be filled with joy, so David dances before the ark [2 Samuel 6.12-23]; Solomon dedicates the Temple [1 Kings 8]; the ascent to Jerusalem where the Lord has made his home is joyful [Ps 122], the Lord is in the midst of the daughter of Zion [Zechariah 2.10f]. Finally there are moments of great joy when the covenant is renewed - the joy of forgiveness and reconciliation, of renewal, the joy that comes from knowing that God is faithful: Genesis 8.15,22; Joshua 24; Nehemiah 8.

The association of grace and joy invites us to consider other ways in which the theme of joy echoes through the gospel of Luke. As the people of the Old Testament rejoiced, in the Psalms particularly, in the mighty works of God, so the people who witness the ministry of Jesus are filled with joy at what they see (Luke 13:17; 18:43; 19:6, 37, for example). Just as we are told in the Old Testament that God also rejoices (Isaiah 62:5, 19; Psalm 103:31; Zephaniah 3:17f), Jesus speaks about the joy of the Father especially in the context of the lost sinner being found (Luke 15:5-7, 8-10, 32).


One text in Luke-Acts which deserves special attention is Luke 4.22. The scene is the synagogue in Nazareth and Jesus has just initiated his ministry by reading the passage from Isaiah about the Spirit of the Lord coming on the Messiah. 'And all spoke well of him', Luke tells us, 'and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth'.

Some see here simply a reference to Jesus' presence, that it was 'gracious' or 'charming'. This is how the Revised Standard Version and the Jerusalem Bible translate it. Colossians 4.6 recommends that our speech be 'gracious', 'seasoned with salt'. Ephesians 4.29 recommends that we talk in an edifying way so that our speech 'may impart grace' to those who hear. Others see here a reference to Jesus' 'inspired words', even his 'words of grace', and refer to texts in Luke-Acts which use the phrase 'the word (or gospel) of grace' to refer to the entire message of salvation (as it does in Acts 14:3; 20:24, 32).

Against that it is argued that the plural, 'words', means the reference is to his mode of speaking rather than the content of his message. What is being referred to is the charismatic presence of Jesus rather than any content of his words (cf Luke 2.40, 52).

Joachim Jeremias makes an interesting suggestion. He interprets the anger of the people of Nazareth as being on account of Jesus' words of grace, seen in his omission of the rest of the quotation from Isaiah, which speaks of proclaiming 'the day of vengeance of our God'.

It seems as if the phrase, which literally translated means 'his words about grace', must refer not just to the style or presence of Jesus as he speaks but also to the content of what he is saying. Jesus ends the quotation from Isaiah at the point where it refers to the year of the  Lord's favour, the acceptable year of the Lord, the jubilee year spoken of in Leviticus 25 and taken up later by the prophets, in short a time of grace. The account in Luke ties the anger of the Nazarenes closely to Jesus' declaration that a prophet is not acceptable in his own country. It is God's revelation of his grace beyond the borders of Israel through Elijah and Elisha that disturbs and provokes their indignation. What are they to make of a promise of grace that is universal?


It would be pushing things too far to say that we find in Luke-Acts a theology of grace but it is clear from these writings that charis is already very much a part of the Christian vocabulary. We have seen something of the Old Testament background to Luke's use of the term. Grace is central in the spiritual and theological resources he offers for understanding the place of Mary in the history of human salvation. Luke anticipates the fuller theology of grace developed by Saint Paul and a study of the links between the author of Luke-Acts and Paul would illuminate the development from one to the other.

Grace is linked with wisdom as well as joy, and with the Spirit and His power at work. The Spirit who fills the prophets and speaks through them is active in the events of Luke 1-2 as also in the baptism of Jesus, then driving him into the wilderness to be tempted (Luke 4). Jesus as Messiah is the bearer of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4). Luke tells us that Jesus, under the care of Mary, the one who is full of grace, grew in wisdom and stature, and the grace of God was upon him (Luke 2:40, 52).