Who I want to propose to you because of today’s feast, is the person who is all of these things in one and that would be our own dear St. Luke. St. Luke first of all was a physician, a doctor. Why he might be our favorite doctor and the one we would recommend before all others is because he has God’s ear on this. I think he is probably hooked up with St. Raphael and together they are the patrons of God’s healing. There is no better physician to have than that. In fact, there is a reason when all earthly physicians fail us we turn to St. Luke and we turn to St. Raphael to obtain God’s healing for us.
First of all, he might be on your list for favorite physician as he certainly is at the top of my list. Secondly, as far as artist and writer go, I lump them together because to me writing is painting pictures with words, in many cases, also very inspiring and memorable. We have the Gospel according to St. Luke, but why would he be in line as our favorite author or favorite artist? Well, how many times in our meditations do we have these wonderful and inspiring words come to us from our daily Rosary for example? No less than Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among-st women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. That is St. Luke. Were it not for St. Luke, we would not have the Rosary, we wouldn’t have the Hail Mary’s, and we would be saying something else. So it is only in his Gospel that we have these words. Likewise, it’s only in his Gospel that we have four of the five Joyful Mysteries: The Annunciation, The
Visitation, The Presentation and The Finding of the Child Jesus; only found in the Gospel according to St. Luke.
Moreover, he paints pictures for us, figuratively first of all. Who of us doesn’t imagine the scenes from, the Nativity, or the description of the Adoration of the Magi, or even Our Lady at the Annunciation or Elizabeth at the Visitation, all these things? They all form very lovely images like paintings as it were in our minds, all thanks to the Gospel according to St. Luke. Also reflected in his writing most certainly, as he was a real life painter who reportedly painted portraits of the Blessed Virgin Mary from real life. There are places claiming to still have the originals. I say with caution, they are probably copies of his originals because as the years started to take their toll on them, other artists found it necessary to make copies of these paintings as exactly as they could, otherwise the originals would be lost. So these are like Our Lady of Czestochowa for example, which is a picture supposedly painted by St. Luke of Our Lady. There’s
another one in Rome, and another in India.
So we want to keep St. Luke in mind at the top of our list of favorites that we have in everyday life. I just want to give you a very brief note on his life. He was born a Gentile; the only major figure and the only writer in the New Testament who wasn’t a Jew to begin with. He was certainly a Greek but it is not known whether he converted first to Judaism and then Christianity or converted from paganism directly to Christianity. What is known, at a certain point around the year 51, only 18 years after the Resurrection, he joined up with St. Paul on his journeys and you can see this. St. Luke wrote not only the Gospel according to St. Luke, but also the Acts of the Apostles. In the Acts of the Apostles you see he is communicating a third-person narrative about what they are doing: then they did this, then they did that, then they went to this place. But at one point he says “we” and it’s we, we, we, we, we, and then St. Paul goes on to do
something else and it becomes “they” again. This is on or around the year 51AD. To make a long story short he is the faithful companion of St. Paul, referred to in the writings of St. Paul. He is the only one who stays with St. Paul until the very end. When St. Paul is in prison about to be executed St. Paul writes, “Only Luke is with me”, and he stays. After that Luke went about preaching the gospel; writing his gospel about the year 61, around the imprisonment of St. Paul.
Now just a note on inspiration: we say, well St. Luke didn’t write it; it’s the work of the Holy Ghost, it’s the word of God. Well, yes, but the Holy Ghost didn’t throw people into a trance and close their eyes and with a pen just write down the word of God. It didn’t work that way. If it worked that way, all four gospels would be identical and have exactly the same style and they don’t. Each author has his own style and, in fact, it is reckoned by those who reckon such things that St. Luke’s is the best, and most refined literary style of any of the biblical writers, that he has the most education. As I said, he was a doctor; interestingly we assume doctors have money, as well as education. Well, he had the education but he was most likely born a slave as it was not unusual at the time for rich families to send one of their slaves to the medical school, so they would have their own private physician and it’s spoken of by St. Jerome and others as likely how he got his start.
In any case, he may have died a martyr which is why we wear red, that’s a tradition. He may have died of old age. The earliest tradition, as a matter of fact, says that he died of old age or being martyred at 84 in Boeotia after settling in Greece to write his gospel. So whatever you want to make of it, we should think a little bit more about St. Luke than we do, and the Church gives us wonderful feasts such as today’s for just that reason, to put before us that these people were and are real figures who should be real figures in our lives as well.
I want to end up by saying St. Luke’s symbol is that of a bull. You know there are the four evangelists, each with a symbol, and there are two reasons for Luke’s. His gospel opens with the account of Zachary the priest, whose job it was to sacrifice calves and bulls in the temple, and also because it represents the Sacrifice which is Christ. Luke is the patron saint of artists, physicians, surgeons, students and butchers. I can see the surgeons and butchers being in the same category, I don’t know that we do this often, but I think we need to thank God for his inspiration and St. Luke for responding to his inspiration for giving us the beautiful images that we have for the events of
our Faith, The Annunciation; The Visitation; The Nativity; The Presentation, The Finding of the Child Jesus in the temple; also the story of the Good Samaritan and these many, many other beautiful things, found in the Gospel of St. Luke.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Msgr. Patrick Perez