Saint Luke, Evangelist

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Saint Luke, Evangelist
from the Liturgical Year, 1903
The goodness and kindness of God our Saviour hath appeared to all men (Tit. ii. 11; iii. 4.). It would seem that the third Evangelist, a disciple of St. Paul, had purposed setting forth this word of the Doctor of the Gentiles; or may we not rather say, the Apostle himself characterizes in this sentence the Gospel wherein his disciple portrays the Saviour prepared before the face of all peoples; a light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of... Israel (St. Luke ii. 31, 32). St. Luke's Gospel, and the words quoted from St. Paul, were in fact written about the same time; and it is impossible to say which claims priority.

Under the eye of Simon Peter, to whom the Father had revealed the Christ the Son of the living God, Mark had the honour of giving to the Church the Gospel of Jesus, the Son of God (St. Mark i. 1). Matthew had already drawn up for the Jews the Gospel of the Messias, Son of David, Son of Abraham (St. Matth. i. 1). Afterwards, at the side of Paul, Luke wrote for the Gentiles the Gospel of Jesus, Son of Adam through Mary (St. Luke iii. 38). As far as the genealogy of this First-born of His Mother may be reckoned back, so far shall extend the blessing He bestows upon His brethren, by redeeming them from the curse inherited from their first father.

Jesus was truly one of ourselves, a Man conversing with men and living their life. He was seen on earth in the reign of Augustus; the prefect of the empire registered the birth of this new subject of Caesar in the city of His ancestors. He was bound in the swathing-bands of infancy; like all of His race, He was circumcised, offered to the Lord, and redeemed according to the law of His nation. As a Child He obeyed His parents; He grew up under their eyes; He passed through the progressive development of youth to the maturity of manhood. At every juncture, during His public life, He prostrated in prayer to God the Creator of all; He wept over His country; when His Heart was wrung with anguish at sight of the morrow's deadly torments, He was bathed with a sweat of blood; and in that agony He did not disdain the assistance of an Angel. Such appears, in the third Gospel, the humanity of God our Saviour.

How sweet too are His grace and goodness! Among all the children of men, He merited to be the expectation of nations and the Desired of them all: He who was conceived of a humble Virgin; Who was born in a stable with shepherds for His court, and choirs of Angels singing in the darkness of night: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of goodwill. But earth had sung the prelude to the angelic harmonies; the precursor, leaping with delight in his mother's womb, had, as the Church says (Vesper Hymn for the Feast of St. John Baptist), made known the king still resting in his bride-chamber. To this joy of the bridegroom's Friend, the Virgin Mother had responded, by the sweetest song that earth or heaven has ever heard. Then Zachary and Simeon completed the number of inspired Cantioles for the new people of God. All was song around the new-born Babe ; and Mary kept all the wcrds in her heart, in order to transmit them to us through her own Evangelist.

The Divine Child grew in age and wisdom and grace, before God and man; till His human beauty captivated men, and drew them with the cords of Adam to the love of God. He was ready to welcome the daughter of Tyre, the Gentile race that had become more than a rival of Sion. Let her not fear, the poor unfortunate one, of whom Magdalene was a figure; the pride of expiring Judaism may take scandal, but Jesus will accept her tears and her perfumes; he will forgive her much because of her great love. Let the prodigal hope once more, when worn out with his long wanderings, in every way whither error has led the nations; the envious complaint of his elder brother Israel will not stay the outpourings of the Sacred Heart, celebrating the return of the fugitive, restoring to him the dignity of sonship, placing again upon his finger the ring of the alliance first contracted in Eden with the whole human race. As for Juda, unhappy is he if he refuse to understand.

Woe to the rich man, who in his opulence neglects the poor Lazarus! The privileges of race no longer exist: of ten lepers cured in body, the stranger alone is healed in soul, because he alone believes in his deliverer and returns thanks. Of the Samaritan, the levite, and the priest, who appear on the road to Jericho, the first alone earns our Saviour's commendation. The pharisee is strangely mistaken, when, in his arrogant prayer, he spurns the publican, who strikes his breast and cries for mercy. The Son of Man neither hears the prayers of the proud, nor heeds their indignation; He invites Himself, in spite of their murmurs, to the house of Zacheus, bringing with him salvation and joy, and declaring the publican to be henceforth a true son of Abraham. So much goodness and such universal mercy close against Him the narrow hearts of his fellow-citizens; they will not have him to reign over them; but eternal Wisdom finds the lost coin, and there is great joy before the Angels in heaven. On the day of the sacred Nuptials, the lowly and despised, and the repentant sinners, will sit down to the banquet prepared for others. In truth I say to you, there were many widows in the days of Elias in Israel, . . . and to none of them was Elias sent, but to Sarepta of Sidon, to a widow woman. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet, and none of them was cleansed but Naaman the Syrian (St. Luke iv. 25-27).

O Jesus, Thy Evangelist has won our hearts. "We love thee for having taken pity on our misery. We Gentiles were in deeper debt than Jerusalem, and therefore we owe thee greater love in return for thy pardon. We love thee because Thy choicest graces are for Magdalene, that is, for us who are sinners, and are nevertheless called to the better part. We love Thee because thou canst not resist the tears of mothers; but restorest to them, as at Naim, their dead children. In the day of treason, and abandonment, and denial, thou didst forget Thine own injury to cast upon Peter that loving look, which caused him to weep bitterly. Thou turnedst away from Thyself the tears of those humble and true daughters of Jerusalem, who followed thy painful footsteps up the heights of Calvary. Nailed to the Cross, thou didst implore pardon for Thy executioners. At the last hour, as God thou promisedst Paradise to the penitent thief, as Man thou gavest back Thy soul to Thy Father. Truly from beginning to end of this third Gospel appears thy goodness and kindness, O God our Saviour!

St. Luke completed his work by writing, in the same correct style as his Gospel, the history of the first days of Christianity, of the introduction of the Gentiles into the Church, and of the great labours of their own Apostle Paul. According to tradition he was an artist, as well as a man of letters; and with a soul alive to all the most delicate inspirations, he consecrated his pencil to the holiest use, and handed down to us the features of the Mother of God. It was an illustration worthy of the Gospel which relates the Divine Infancy; and it won for the artist a new title to the gratitude of those who never saw Jesus and Mary in the flesh. Hence St. Luke is the patron of Christian art; and also of the medical profession, for in the holy Scripture itself he is said to have been a physician, as we shall see from the Breviary Lessons. He had studied all the sciences in his native city Antioch; and the brilliant capital of the East had reason to be proud of its illustrious son.



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The Lesson is taken from the Book on Ecclesiastical Writers, written by
St. Jerome the Priest

Luke was a physician of Antioch, who, as appeareth from his writings, knew the Greek language. He was a follower of the Apostle Paul, and his fellow-traveller in all his wanderings. He wrote a Gospel, whereof the same Paul saith: We have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the Churches. Of him, he writeth unto the Colossians, Luke, the beloved physician greeteth you. And again, unto Timothy, Only Luke is with me. He also published another excellent book entitled The Acts of the Apostles, wherein the history is brought down to Paul's two-years sojourn at Rome, that is to say, until the fourth year of Nero, from which we gather that it was at Rome that the said book was composed.

The silence of Luke is one of the reasons why we reckon among Apocryphal books The Acts of Paul and Thecla, and the whole story about the baptism of Leo. For why should the fellow-traveller of the Apostle, who knew other things, be ignorant only of this? At the same time there is against these documents the statement of Tertullian, almost a contemporary writer, that the Apostle John convicted a certain Priest in Asia, who was a great admirer of the Apostle Paul, of having written them, and that the said Priest owned that he had been induced to compose them through his admiration for Paul, and that he was deposed in consequence. There are some persons who suspect that when Paul in his Epistles useth the phrase, According to my Gospel, he meaneth the Gospel written by Luke.

Howbeit, Luke learned his Gospel not from the Apostle Paul only, who had not companied with the Lord in the flesh, but also from other Apostles, as himself declareth at the beginning of his work, where he saith: They delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word. According to what he had heard, therefore, did he write his Gospel. As to the Acts of the Apostles, he composed them from his own personal knowledge. He was never married. He lived eighty-four years. He is buried at Constantinople, whither his bones were brought from Achaia in the twentieth year of Constantine, together with the relicks of the Apostle Andrew.


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At that time: The Lord appointed other seventy also: and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. And so on, and that which followeth.Luke Chap. 10, 1-9
A Homily by St. Gregory the Pope

Dearly beloved brethren, our Lord and Saviour doth sometimes admonish us by words, and sometimes by works.
Yea, his very works do themselves teach us: for that which he doth silently his example still moveth us to copy. Behold how he sendeth forth his disciples to preach by two and two: since there are two commandments to love, that is, a commandment to love God, and a commandment to love our neighbour: and where there are not two, the one, being alone, hath not whereon to do the Lord's commandment. And no man can properly be said to love himself: for love tendeth outward toward our neighbour, if it be the love whereto the Gospel doth oblige us.

Behold, the Lord sendeth forth his disciples to preach by two and two: and thus doing, he doth silently teach us that whosoever loveth not his neighbour, such an one it behoveth not to take upon him the office of a preacher. Well also is it said that he sent them before his face into every city and place whither he himself would come. The Lord followeth his preachers: first cometh preaching, and then the Lord himself cometh to the house of our mind, whither the word of exhortation hath come before: and so cometh the truth into our mind.

Therefore to preachers saith Isaiah: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight an highway for our God. And again the Psalmist saith: Spread a path before him that rideth upon the West. The Lord rideth upon the West; above that from which in death he veiled his glory hath he royally exalted that glory that excelleth, even the glory of his rising again. He rideth upon the West, who, being risen again from the dead, is throned high above the death to which he bowed. Before him, therefore, that rideth upon the West, we spread a path, when we set forth his glory before the eyes of your mind, to the end that he himself may come after, and himself enlighten the same your minds by his presence and his love.

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