Sunday’s Gospel (Luke) starts with a string of names. People and places we’ve never heard of. Plus years of service for people holding public offices. It’s pretty dry.
Like somebody decided to write the least interesting thing they could. With only the slightest connection to Jesus. But there’s actually a reason for all of it.
For the people Luke was writing to, they tracked time by the year of an emperor’s reign. Tiberius started in 14 AD, this stuff is happening in his 15th year as emperor. Okay, but why do we care?
Because most stories about gods and heroes don’t have dates, and for good reason. They’re made up.
The dates and historical details make it clear that whatever is about to happen, it’s anything but “once upon a time.”
More on this tomorrow. Readings for Sunday