FEAST OF ST LUKE THE EVANGELIST
FEAST DAY – 18th OCTOBER
Luke the Evangelist is one of the Four Evangelists—the four traditionally ascribed authors of the canonical gospels. The Early Church Fathers ascribed to him authorship of both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, which would mean Luke contributed over a quarter of the text of the New Testament, more than any other author.
Prominent figures in early Christianity such as Jerome and Eusebius later reaffirmed his authorship, although a lack of conclusive evidence as to the identity of the author of the works has led to discussion in scholarly circles, both secular and religious.
St Paul speaks of St Luke, The Doctor, the author of the Third Gospel and of the Acts of the Apostles – in the Letter to the Colossians, referring to him as “Luke, the beloved physician”. Luke was born in Antioch, and was a Gentile and an early Christian convert. in his Gospel, Luke is particularly sensitive with regard to the evangelization of the Gentiles.
The parable of the Good Samaritan is found only in his Gospel; and it is Luke who tells of Jesus’ appreciation for the faith of the widow of Zarephath, of Naaman the Syrian, and of the Samaritan leper – the only one of the ten lepers who were healed who returned to express his gratitude.
Up to the sixteenth chapter, the Acts of the Apostles, by Luke, are written in the third person; but immediately after Paul’s vision of a man from Macedonia, it passes to the first person plural. Then there is a new passage in the third person, which leads us to think that Luke was not arrested with Paul, but rather remained in Philippi after his friend departed. Seven years later, Paul returned to that region, and Luke, who in chapter 20 resumes the first person plural, goes with him to Miletus, Troas, Caesarea, and Jerusalem.
When Paul was imprisoned at Rome in the year 61, Luke remained at his side, as we see from the Letters of Paul to Philemon and to Timothy. In fact, after being abandoned by all, in the final phase of his imprisonment, Paul writes to Timothy, “only Luke is with me” (2 Tim 4,11).
From the parables and miracles that are unique to St Luke, we can determine the most characteristic feature of his Gospel. Luke shows in his Gospel an empathy for the poor, and for victims of injustice, for repentant sinners welcomed by the forgiveness and the mercy of God.
He tells the story of Lazarus and the rich man; of the Prodigal Son and the merciful Father who welcomes him back with open arms; and of the sinful woman who was forgiven, and who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears, and dried them with her hair. It is St Luke who, thanks to the account Mary gave to him, tells about the words of the Angel at the Annunciation; the visit of Mary to Elizabeth and the Magnificat; the details of the Presentation in the Temple; and the beautiful portrait of the anguish of Mary and Joseph when they could not find the 12-year-old Jesus.
It is quite probably this narrative that gives us the tradition of St Luke as a painter, a tradition that is represented in traditional iconography. Details of St Luke’s death are uncertain. Some sources speak of his martyrdom, while others say he lived to old age. The oldest traditions say he died in Boeotia at age 84, where he had settled to write his Gospel.
The relics of his body are to be found in the Abbey of Santa Giustina, in Padua; a rib from his body was sent to his original tomb in Thebes; and his skull is preserved in Prague, in the Cathedral of St Vitus.
Let us ask St. Luke to pray for us, that we learn to be persevering in our commitments to the work of evangelization and building up the kingdom of God. Let us ask him to speak to the Blessed Virgin Mary on our behalf, that we learn to love Jesus as she did.
ST. LUKE THE EVANGELIST PRAYER
Almighty God, you inspired Your servant St. Luke the Evangelist and Physician to set forth in the gospel the love and the healing power of your Son. In faithfully detailing the humanity of Jesus, he also showed the divinity of Jesus and His genuine compassion for all human beings.
May St. Luke intercede for us that we may deepen our understanding of the gospel and grow in compassion of Jesus. May his intercession enable us to follow Your way and plan for us. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen
Heavenly Father, Luke the physician, to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of Thy Son: Graciously continue in Thy Church the love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of Thy Name; through the same Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, now and forever. Amen
Saint Luke, pray for us!