Saturday, 18 October 2008

S Luke the Evangelist

Today is S Luke's day. Luke was a highly educated gentile. When we read his writings both in the Gospel that bears his name and in the Acts of the Holy Apostles we find a very polished and high standard Greek. S Paul in the letter to the Colossians tells us that Luke was a physician, confirming this high level of education attributed to Luke.
We do not know how Luke became a Christian, we are not told anything at all about his conversion. What we know is that he was one of the early members of the Christian community at Antioch; at the time the third largest city in the Roman Empire. S Luke’s bishop was S Peter as he was bishop of Antioch before becoming first bishop of Rome. It was here that for the first time ever the disciples of Jesus were called Christians, a name which we still treasure and use today.
There are no details of how Luke came to Christ but there are enough details to be able to say that Luke was passionate about Christ, he was completely taken by the message of Jesus and he dedicated all his life to the service of the Word of life. Luke could have been a good Christian and a good physician and lived a cosy life in Antioch but his passion for Christ did not permit him to do so. He had faith and he had vision and he decided to do something about it. His faith sharpened his in depth view of the situation. He could see that the twelve men that surrounded Jesus were getting old, and some of them were being martyred. He also had the privilege to meet the Blessed Virgin Mary and hear from her lips the story of the Annunciation and the Infancy of Our Lord; with what grace must our Immaculate Mother have recounted these stories to enable Luke to portray them so vividly in his gospel. S Luke spoke to other Christians about these narratives but realised that by word of mouth only much of these stories would be lost or diluted beyond recognition. He also realised that being a Gentile he could reach his fellow gentiles. So he started writing down all the stories he had heard addressing them to those who like him did not belong to the old chosen people but to the people of the new covenant redeemed by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. S Luke could see more, he realised that the work of the Lord Jesus Christ did not end by his ascension into heaven, Luke saw that moment as a starting point rather than a conclusion. He saw the moment of the glorious ascension as that tangible moment in which the Church’s mission started. And in the sharp mind of Luke the mission of the Church was to continue here on earth the work of Jesus until He comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead. So for Luke it was not enough to record the life story and sayings of Jesus but also necessary to show in the book of the Acts of the Holy Apostles how the work of Jesus was continued by the first generation of Christians. Luke did not need any one to tell him the stories here as he was one of the main characters, constantly with S Paul together seeing death face to face in that glorious Shipwreck at the end of the book of Acts. Luke was in Malta with Paul and ancient tradition has it that he painted the image of the Blessed Virgin venerated in this shrine.
May the glorious Physician and Painter S Luke pray for us and inspire us to work for the Gospel of Life!

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