October 18, 2011 - Feast of Saint Luke, evangelist

2 Timothy 4:10-17
Psalm 145:10-13, 17-18
Luke 10:1-9

St. Luke was the companion of St. Paul and the author of one of the four Gospels and of the Acts of the Apostles. We are indebted to Luke for so much information about the early Church, but we know so little about him. We know that he was with St. Paul for much of his journeys preaching the Gospel. We know that he was a physician by practice, which comes out in the details provided when Jesus heals someone. There is an old tradition that he was one of the seventy-two described in the Gospel today, but this seems unlikely since he was not circumcised. However, he certainly did experience the apostolic lifestyle in his years with St. Paul.

Another companion of St. Paul was St. Mark, who also wrote a Gospel, and we know that St. Luke used St. Mark’s Gospel as a source for his own. He begins his Gospel by saying that he is aware of many attempts to write down the story of Jesus, so he has decided to put it all together in an orderly fashion. We suppose that, since he was with St. Paul, he saw some of the events that he describes in Acts firsthand.

It is from Luke that we have most of what we know about Mary. His gospel is particularly noteworthy for including so much about the early years, from the Annunciation to Mary to the Visitation of Elizabeth to the Birth in Bethlehem to the Presentation to Simeon to the Finding of Christ in the temple at age 12. In other words, the joyful mysteries of the rosary are all from Luke. The historical record also mentions a painting of Mary done by Luke. There are many copies of this painting, and no one is sure if any of them is the original.

Luke is also our only source for the story of Pentecost. Other authors mention the Holy Spirit, but only Luke tells us exactly how the Holy Spirit filled the disciples on that day, how Peter preached, and how, on that one day, 3000 people joined the Church. We are indebted to St. Luke for our understanding of the early Church. If we add to this that Luke may very well have been the secretary who wrote down some of St. Paul’s letters, much of the New Testament is given to us through his work. Praise God for St. Luke. May we, in our times, serve the Church as well has he did in his times.