28th Friday in Ordinary Time
Feast of St. Luke
Luke was a Gentile, a physician, and one of Paul’s fellow missionaries in the early spread of Christianity through the Roman world. Eusebius in the fourth century wrote about Luke in his Ecclesiastical History:
“Luke, who was born at Antioch and a physician by profession, was for long periods a companion of Paul and was closely associated with the other apostles as well. So he has left us examples of the art of healing souls, which he learned from them, in two divinely inspired books, the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. The former, he declares, he wrote in accordance with the information he received from those who from the first had been eyewitness and ministers of the word, information which, he adds, he had followed in its entirety from the first. The latter book he composed, not this time from hearsay but from the evidence of his own eyes. It is actually suggested that Paul was in the habit of referring to Luke’s Gospel whenever he said, as if writing of some Gospel of his own, ‘According to my Gospel’”. St Gregory Nazianzen adds that Luke was martyred, which is why we have red vestments today.
It is especially in St Luke’s Gospel that Jesus comes across as a man of prayer. He prayed at the time of his baptism, and passed a whole night in silent prayer before choosing his apostles. He was praying at the transfiguration, and before giving the apostles the words of the Lord’s Prayer. He prayed still more urgently during his agony and on the cross. Prayer is a gift of the Holy Spirit, who was upon Jesus at his first sermon, and led him into the desert.
Jesus promises that the Father will give the Holy Spirit to the disciples, and that the Spirit of God will clothe them with his power and help them during the persecutions to come. Finally, only St Luke provides the very familiar stories of the annunciation to Mary, of her visit to Elizabeth and her Magnificat, of Martha and Mary and the other holy women who help Jesus and the other disciples during their ministry.
The Gospel of St Luke brings us into an interior atmosphere which helps us to penetrate into the very heart of Christian life. In it, the true disciples of Christ will learn to entrust themselves entirely to a merciful Lord; they will learn to understand the demands of the Gospel by taking Jesus and Mary as models. If we respond to the grace to do this, we will know something of the joy expressed in Mary’s Magnificat. This joy will be all the greater if we become prayerful people, obedient to the Holy Spirit. Even in the midst of the inevitable trials, we will know the joy of forgiveness granted to the prodigal son. And in the midst of death, if we have recognized the Lord at the breaking of bread, we shall recognize his hands and his feet, and see that Jesus himself is drawing near, to take us home.