Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist. He kind of falls into this funny category. He’s one of those saints who isn’t an apostle, but because he wrote one of the gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, it feels like he should be.
A doctor by profession, Saint Luke was an early convert to Christianity, although not from Judaism. Historians believe he was a Syrian from Antioch. As such, his writings were directed towards a gentile audience, and particularly to those who had grown complacent in their faith His style varies from those of Matthew, written for Jewish audiences, Mark, written for new converts to the faith who were experiencing persecution, and John, written for a mostly Jewish audience with a mixture of some gentiles and Samaritans. I guess there’s something for everyone in the gospels! Once again, God demonstrates the beauty of the body.
Saint Luke traveled with Saint Paul on Paul’s second missionary journey and part of his third including going to Rome where Saint Paul was eventually martyred. Luke’s witness compelled him to tell the story to others. He begins his gospel:
Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus,so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received. (Lk 1:1-4)
Subsequent to writing the gospel, Luke penned the Acts of the Apostles. In it, Saint Luke recounts the major events in the life of the early Church from the Ascension and Pentecost through to Saint Paul’s final arrival in Rome. If you have never read the entire Acts of the Apostles, I highly recommend it (hmm…maybe this could be part of your Year of Faith observance).
The thing I like most about the Acts of the Apostles is that everything recorded in there occurred when Jesus was no longer around. These people were ordinary Joe’s like you and me. They had to rely on faith and the Holy Spirit to do what they did in the moment. Think about the stories we know because of what Saint Luke wrote. When a lame man asked for alms, in the name of Jesus, they healed him, and he could walk. St. Peter’s speech converted 3,000 at Pentecost. St. Stephen bravely faced death, and God filled his mouth with the words including forgiving those who killed him. St. Paul experienced a life changing conversion on the road to Damascus. Angels freed Peter from prison, and he walked right past the guards to the outskirts of town. A young man fell out a third story window and died; they brought him back to life. They drove out demons in a slave girl. They baptized. And so much more.
God calls us to do the same. Yes, they saw things that we never will. Jesus walked physically among them. Do not forget, however, what Jesus said to Thomas, “… Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” That’s us. We are the blessed. We have not seen, but we believe. Do we live that way? Do we really believe that we can do what they did? “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” (Mk 9:24)
So today, take some time to read and pray on something in the Acts of the Apostles. Help your unbelief in this Year of Faith. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to what you most need to hear. Then…act on it!
Saint Luke, pray for us! Anne
Note: St. Luke is believed to have been a painter who was the first person to paint Our Lady as the Theotokos, the God bearer. The painting above reflects that belief.
Prayer to Saint Luke
Most charming and saintly Physician, you were animated by the heavenly Spirit of love. In faithfully detailing the humanity of Jesus, you also showed his divinity and his genuine compassion for all human beings. Inspire our physicians with your professionalism and with the divine compassion for their patients. Enable them to cure the ills of both body and spirit that afflict so many in our day. Amen.