Robert Ladds considers the life and example of St Luke
You could say that S Luke was a ‘man of many parts’. The Head Relic of this Holy Patron can today be Venerated in S Vitus Cathedral in Prague. The majority of his Body in the Abbey of Santa Giustina in Padua, and, since 1992, the rib closest to his heart at Thebes in Greece at the place where his original Tomb is thought to be.
Such flippancy apart, we know Luke to, indeed, have a number of roles that we, as Christians, can take, appreciate and learn from:
It is as the Writer of the Gospel that bears his name, and the accompanying Book of the Acts of the Apostles, that we first think of Luke the Evangelist. In his own words, he sets out to set down an orderly account of the life and mission of our Blessed Lord and to go on and tell the story of the Early Church. Because of the sensitivity and detail of some of what Luke writes, it is thought possible that he had direct contact with Our Lady Mary. As Gentile himself, Luke always seems to increase his focus when Our Lord is meeting Gentiles. Similarly when our Lord is with women, the marginalised poor, needy and sick.
Luke was, evidently, something of a Scholar and an Historian. The Gospel and Book of Acts sit firmly in the tradition of Greek historiography. It is generally thought that the date-related events recorded by Luke are accurate and he refers to towns and cities and islands with geographical accuracy. The record set out in the Book of Acts seems precise and straightforward, without any embellishment or over romanticized frills.
What is most obvious and certain is that Luke sets things down in such a way as to be, above all, invaluable for use as Christian Apologetic, defending our Faith and beliefs; using details and information effectively and systematically to explain or argue our position.
It is S Paul, in his Letter to the Colossians, who was to refer to Luke the Beloved Physician. As well as appearing when Paul writes to the Colossians, Luke is also mentioned in the Letter to Philemon and in the Second Letter to Timothy. It is possible that he is the ‘brother’ mentioned by Paul in Second Corinthians.
From Acts we also gather that Luke was, as a close friend of Paul, with him at Philippi and Troas. And it is from 2 Timothy that we read those touching words of Paul, in prison near the end of his life, that ‘only Luke is with me.’
The good news is that, unlike S Luke, we are not all calledby God to be Evangelists! We are, however, ALL called to evangelize, that is, in our own way, to talk about our Faith and keep the rumour of Jesus alive, that is, in our own way, to witness to our Christian Faith by what we do with and in our lives; according to our own particular calling, to show we love God and serve others.
Thank goodness you don’t need to be a great scholar, historian or apologist to be a fully functioning Christian. If it were so, many of us would certainly be cut out of it! But this is no excuse for not knowing and studying the things of our Faith. It should not only be those of the evangelical tradition who know the Bible or be able to speak about their faith.
As Catholics we need to know our theology; know our ecclesiology; be able to explain and articulate what we believe and why we want to worship the way we do; why we need the Sacraments and to ensure there is Sacramental Assurance within the Church. Every one of our Parishes should seek to have an on-going, all-age, Christian Studies Program.
S Luke, by tradition, knew and loved Our Blessed Lady. Here is something we can all do! It’s been said that the shortest and best Homily ever preached was but 9 words long: ‘Go to Confession. Go to Mass. Love Our Lady.’ The way to know a person is to spend time with them. Let us do exactly this. Spend time in prayer with Our Lady; before her image, at her Shrine in our church, reciting her litany, reading of her in scripture and other books, contemplating her in art. Let some of this time of prayer be in silence. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said: ‘God speaks mostly in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.’
The Physician of physicians
If we do what that little 9-word Homily suggests, then, while that will not make us doctors, it will certainly bring us to the Physician of all Physicians, to Jesus the Lover and Healer of hearts and minds and lives.
The Sacraments of the Church must be at the very core of what we are about. Confession prepares us for each of the other 6 Sacraments. In particular, it prepares us for the Most Blessed Sacrament; that of receiving the Body of Blood of Christ in the Mass. By the Most Holy Sacraments of the Altar we meet with our Living Lord and know, deep within ourselves, the truth of the Gospel, that very Gospel that St Luke took such care in setting down. Setting it all down in order that we might know and follow in the way of Christ Jesus our Lord. ND
This Homily -was first preached
at the patronal festival of
St Luke’s, Uxbridge Road, London