Sunday, October 17, 2010

Only Luke is with Me

October 18, 2010
Feast of St. Luke, evangelist

At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it. 2 Timothy 4:16-17

He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’” Luke 10:2-5

Saint Luke brought us the Gospel, the news of the Rising Sun from on high.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has come to his people and brought about their redemption. He has raised up the sign of salvation in the house of his servant David, as he promised through the mouth of the holy ones, his prophets through the ages: to rescue us from our enemies and all who hate us, to take pity on our fathers, to remember his holy covenant and the oath he swore to Abraham our father, that he would give himself to us, that we could serve him without fear – freed from the hands of our enemies – in uprightness and holiness before him, for all of our days.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High: for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare his path, to let his people know their salvation, so that their sins may be forgiven. Through the bottomless mercy of our God, one born on high will visit us to give light to those who walk in darkness, who live in the shadow of death; to lead our feet in the path of peace. Luke 1:68-79

If the proofreaders were sleeping tonight, then you might be reading about how to “Feast off St. Luke.” They spelling checker did help me find and correct the typo in the headline. However, I almost left it in place because in this Liturgical Cycle C, we have indeed been “feasting off” the words and stories brought to us by St. Luke, evangelist and social worker throughout the year. Luke is the patron saint of artists, brewers, butchers, doctors, notaries, and painters.

Luke provides the largest portion of the content in the New Testament. Not only did he write down one of the four major books of the New Testament, but he also composed Acts of the Apostles and accompanied Paul on his journey to Rome (as we learn in today’s first reading).

Luke details the merciful side of Jesus emphasizing the Lord’s compassion and patience with the sinners and the people who are suffering including Samaritans, sinners and shepherds. St. Luke also delivers many of the best stories in the Gospel, passing on the parables of the sinful woman washing Jesus’ feet, the lost sheep and coin, the prodigal son, and the good thief. Average people like you and I appear throughout his Gospel – sinners, widows, carpenters, soldiers, and more.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible appears in Luke where Jesus lays out the plan for his public ministry, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah. This Nazareth manifesto guides Jesus’ public ministry in that first temple visit and also foreshadows Jesus’ challenge to the authorities (Luke 4:16-21). This both set in motion his public ministry and also confounded the people listening and set in motion his rejection in his hometown and his ultimate rejection by the Jewish people.

According to Catholic Online, Luke’s is the “gospel of the poor and of social justice.” He is the one who tells the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man who ignored him. Luke is the one who uses “Blessed are the poor” instead of “Blessed are the poor in spirit” in the beatitudes. Only in Luke's gospel do we hear the Canticle of Mary and the Canticle of Zechariah, cornerstones of the Daily Office. He also gives us Mary 's Magnificat where she proclaims that God “has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty” (Luke 1:52-53).

Luke also provides the narrative stories for the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary: the Annunciation, the Visitation with Elizabeth, the Nativity, the Presentation in the Temple and the Teaching/Disappearance in the Temple. Luke’s writings in these stories also provide the entire Biblical foundation for the most popular prayer of all, the Hail Mary.

While St. John’s Gospel may provide the poetry of the New Testament, the richness of the Good News brought to us by St. Luke does indeed provide something to “feast” off of today and everyday.

Luke was a physician and described many of the medical conditions Jesus encountered in greater detail than the other synoptic gospel writers Matthew and Mark.

Today, in honor of St. Luke, pray for those who are sick that the hands and minds of their physicians and surgeons will be blessed and guided to healing if that is the will of God. Pray for those who have no doctors to care for them that they will get access to quality health care and for your own doctors that their work will be guided by the spirit of life and healing at all times.