Saint Luke (+84), the author of the third Gospel – and also, as our Tradition has it, of the Acts of the Apostles, was hence responsible for a quarter of the New Testament, more than any other. He may have also had a hand in the Letter to the Hebrews. In his Letter to the Colossians, Saint Paul describes Luke as a physician, with his healing stories 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 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.
And so he did, one of the greatest treasures. Saint Luke may have been a Jew, converted from ‘Hellenism’, 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 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 Annunciation and the Visitation, and where we have handed down most of what few treasured words from the Mother of God. He met his end, as did many in those first days of the Church, by martyrdom, perhaps being hung from an olive tree.
Pray to Saint Luke, especially today, especially for our health professionals who are being coerced to use their healing arts to kill – abortion and euthanasia – as well as maim – gender ‘reassignment’ surgery; and now we have covidian insanity swirling around us. 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!