Among the gospels, Luke--the focus of the lectionary in "year C"--is considered by many the "most loved." It features some of the most treasured stories in the New Testament, like Zacchaeus, the road to Emmaus, and baby Jesus in a manger. It offers some of the Jesus' most popular parables, like the Good Samaritan, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. It is a gospel with a distinct interest in the socially marginalized, like women, widows, tax collectors, Samaritans, and Gentiles. It has a unique interest in the realities of empire which is more explicitly visible in its companion volume, the Acts of the Apostles. It is the only gospel to feature extended birth narratives and the ascension, making it historically favored among liturgists and artists. It's sheer length gives readers the impression of being the most thorough account of Jesus available. These features led the French scholar Ernest Renan to call the third gospel "the most beautiful book ever written."
Here are some of the major themes in the gospel of Luke: faith as a journey, faith as food, table and hospitality, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, divine necessity, the presence of women, "the here and now", the socially marginalized and good news for the poor. Also important to Luke's gospel is the use of wealth and atonement theology of the Cross. In year C of the lectionary, we will hear from the gospel of Luke more than forty times on Sundays and festivals--ample opportunity for a sustained meditation on Luke's narrative of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.