I’ve often been asked what my favorite Scripture passage is. It’s an impossible question. Quite frankly, I don’t have an answer. I perhaps have a favorite passage from each book of the Bible, but certainly not one from the entire Sacred Scriptures. Who could pick just one?
A strange thought occurred to me early this morning, however. The unlikely suggestion of Luke, chapter 1 came spontaneously and uninvited to my mind. Think of all the extraordinary words crammed into that one, single chapter!
A marvelous introduction; the story of Zechariah & Elizabeth; the Annunciation; the Visitation; the Magnificat; the nativity of John the Baptizer; and the Benedictus.
What a table of contents! These are exceptional texts—stories & prayers & characters that have given shape to our very salvation. The Benedictus and Magnificat, in particular, are prayers that, as a priest, I pray every single day. (The Benedictus is the canticle traditionally prayed in the Divine Office at Lauds, and Mary’s Magnificat is sung at Vespers.)
There is no question that I love Luke 1. It boasts no shortage of money lines, as well as a most beautiful cohesion. It may be eighty separate verses, but it’s a chapter that should be in the running with the other fifty-or-so passages that vie for the appellation “favorite” in my book.
Especially in this Christmas season, how good it would be for us to return to this chapter—the first chapter in the only Gospel that relates the birth of our Blessed Lord. With all of its eighty verses, it could give us sufficient material for our private lectio divina to last us until the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. And, for that, there’s Luke, chapter 3!