A blessed feast of Saint Luke (+84) to all our readers! He was one of the four evangelists, author of the third Gospel – and also, as our Tradition has it, of the Acts of the Apostles. He was therefore responsible for a quarter of the New Testament, more than any other writer. He may have also had a hand in the Letter to the Hebrews. In the Letter to the Colossians, Saint Paul describes Luke as a physician, and his healing stories are particularly poignant and insightful. He also was apparently the first iconographer, painting – or ‘writing’, as they say in the East – the first images of our Lady, of Christ, and of Saints Peter and Paul, much of which has been lost, although the ‘Black Madonna’ purports to be by Luke’s own hand.
His Gospel is known for its historical details. The first line indicates the author intends to offer a true historical narrative:
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent The-oph’ilus, that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed.
And so he did, one of the greatest treasures. Saint Luke was well educated, with references to Greek classics throughout his writings. He may have been a follower of Judaism, converted originally from ‘Hellenism’, and then, in turn, converted to Christ. He writes with Greek as his first language, and his intended audience is that whole wide ‘pagan world’, still waiting in many ways and places to be converted. He has a particular emphasis on the mercy of God, the conversion of sinners (the Prodigal Son, the lost sheep, the Good Samaritan, the penitent thief are all in Luke), and Christ’s love for all, men, women, children, lepers, the outcast. Luke is also numbered amongst the ’72 disciples’ whom he himself mentions in his tenth chapter, sent out by Christ, two by two, to preach the Gospel. And Luke also seems to have been close to Our Lady: It is in his Gospel that we find the fullest picture of her, in the accounts of the Annunciation and the Visitation, and where we have handed down most of what few treasured words we have from the Mother of God. It is from him that we have that poignant phrase: his mother kept all these things in her heart. Mary likely revealed some of her heart, in different ways, to Saint John, and to Saint Luke.
Our evangelist met his end, as did many in those first days of the Church, as one tradition has it, by martyrdom, witnessing to the Truth, perhaps being hung from an olive tree. He is certainly celebrated as such in the Liturgy, with red vestments, regardless of other sources, which claim he died at 84, full of years. He is the patron saint of physicians, artists, bachelors, notaries, butchers and brewers, all of which groups overlap to some extent.
Pray to Saint Luke, especially today, especially for our health professionals who are using their healing arts, by will or by coercion, to kill by abortion, and now the ever-expanding euthanasia – as well as maim, with gender ‘reassignment’ surgery. May the evangelist-physician pray to the divine Physician, that we awake from the madness and misery, and that we all be healed, in mind and body, heart and soul.
Saint Luke, evangelist, physician, artist and Gospel renaissance man, ora pro nobis!