Luke

Oct 18, 2020

It’s the feast of St. Luke today, 18 October.  He is best known as the writer of the Gospel of Luke, but he also wrote the Acts of the Apostles.

You might like to try reading through the Gospel of Luke and then pick up the Acts of the Apostles which continues where the Gospel of Luke leaves off. The join between the two books is seamless and provides a powerful bridge between the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and the experience and adventures of the followers of Jesus in the first years of the church.

Luke was a doctor. There is a tradition that he was also a slave which would follow since it was common for those who had slaves to arrange for one of them to be trained as a doctor so that that their household would have on-hand 24/7 medical care.

Luke being a doctor explains his gospel’s emphasis on medical details. He notes that Peter’s mother-in-law had a high fever, and in Luke 14:2 Luke describes a man whose body had “swollen with fluid”.  He also emphasises Jesus instructing his followers to “go into the streets and bring in the poor. the crippled, the blind and the lame” to the wedding feast. (Luke 14:21)

Luke was also a Gentile, that is, he was not a Jew. This is significant for us as well since the transition from those who followed Jesus being Jews, to the majority of disciples (including today) being Gentiles (like us) was a significant shift (and challenge) for the early church. The Gospel of Luke emphasises reaching beyond the boundaries of Judaism as he praises the faith of the Gentiles (Lk 4:25-27) and the one grateful leper who was (he notes) not a Jew.(Lk 17:11-19)

Luke was a close associate of St. Paul and therefore his Acts of the Apostles provides a great coverage of the conversion of Paul giving an introduction to the many letters of St. Paul that follow Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament.

Because the Gospel of Luke gives greatest detail of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, some of our great prayers come from this gospel: The Angelus is from Luke (with some help from the Gospel of John), and the great Gospel canticles are also found in the first chapter of Luke’s gospel: The Benedictus (proclaimed by John the Baptist’s father Zechariah and prayed in the daily Morning Prayer of the Church), the Magnificat (the prayer of Mary at her meeting with her cousin Elizabeth) and the Canticle of Simeon, the proclamation of the just and devout old man of Jerusalem on meeting the child Jesus at his presentation in the temple, and prayed daily at Night Prayer (Compline) of the Liturgy of the Hours.

Happy feast day, and happy reading.

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