October 20, 2020
October 18th is always a very special day in the church when we celebrate the ministry of St. Luke, The Evangelist. Not only is he celebrated for his writing of The Gospel according to St. Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, but he was also a companion of St. Paul on his Missionary Journeys, famously seen by Paul, as described in Acts 16:9
During the night Paul had a vision; there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’
We know this was Luke, as the narrative in the book changes from “they” to “we” immediately after the vision. Luke became part of the missionary team and took part in Paul’s Second and Third Missionary Journeys and accompanied him to Rome, where he stayed during Paul’s captivity. St. Luke was unmarried, wrote his Gospel in Greece, and died at the age of 84 in Boeotia.
Luke’s Gospel is written in Greek and its outstanding characteristic is its insistence on the life, death and teachings of Christ as a message of UNIVERSAL SALVATION addressed to all, not only the Jews – hence, it is by far my favourite Gospel. Passages which are only found in his Gospel stress Jesus’s kindness and human understanding, e.g., the Parable of The Prodigal Son (15:11-32), his words to the women of Jerusalem (23:27-31), the promise to the thief while on the Cross (23:43), his care for outcasts and an austere devotion to poverty (6:20 and 16:19-31 – the Parable of Dives and Lazarus). There are also a remarkable number of references to women we don’t find in the other Gospels, e.g., Elizabeth (1:5-66), the widow of Nain (7:11-17), and the woman in the crowd who blessed Christ’s mother (11:27), while it is Mary, not Joseph, who plays the principal part in the Birth of Jesus. Traditionally, it is thought that Mary was a prime source for his Gospel and, as Reverend Jennifer Schick arrives as our priest, let us give thanks to God for the role of women in Christ’s life and the Church and, with Luke, celebrate their contribution down the centuries and in the present day.
St. Luke is the patron of doctors and artists because he was a doctor of medicine by profession and an artist of note whose most famous painting is that of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome. He is believed to have died on this day and his relics were translated in 356 to Constantinople (Istanbul), where they lie in the Church of the Apostles.
Our prayer for today is the Collect for St. Luke’s Day:
Almighty God, you called Luke the physician, whose praise is in the gospel, to be an evangelist and physician of the soul: by the grace of the Spirit, and through the wholesome medicine of the gospel, give your Church the same love and power to heal; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.