Today is the feast day of St. Luke the Evangelist, author of the beloved Gospel of Luke, as well as the Acts of the Apostles.
St. Luke is the patron saint of artists, writers and physicians, surgeons and students, but perhaps he should also be a patron for busy wives and mothers striving to keep “orderly accounts” while making and keeping memories for and about their families and friends.
Scholars know a lot from studying the Gospel of Luke and Acts. For example, we know that St. Luke did not have the chance to know Jesus and did not have any first hand experience with Jesus’ ministry. Luke was not an apostle or a disciple. But he was a good friend of St. Paul. Scholars believe that what became the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles was initially St. Luke’s thoroughly investigated and carefully written testimony for his friend imprisoned in Rome.
St. Luke had three special skills that assisted him in writing this account. First, he was a Gentile, not a Jew. In fact, he is the only Gentile to have authored in any part of the Bible. So his viewpoint may have been especially interesting to a non-Jewish audience.
St. Luke was also a physician (Col 4:10-14). His medical observations are sprinkled throughout his books. He uses medical terms in a way that the other writers omit; when he speaks of salt it is as a disinfectant or fertilizer. His skill in observation as a physician also transferred to his written accounts. Luke is an accurate and proven historian.
Lastly, scholars suspect that Luke was well traveled. Other accounts of the Sea of Galilee show it as massive, yet Luke refers to it as a lake! Most likely Luke had some experience with the Mediterranean and had experience with different kinds of people and cultures.
St. Luke put his talents to good use. He set out to thoroughly and completely investigate the life of Jesus Christ and the lives of his apostles. He interviewed James, John and Matthew to get their perspective. But perhaps most significantly, he was able to get the story of Jesus’ conception and birth from His mother. One can only imagine the genial physician with the comforting way and good listening skills, taking notes while Mary shares all of those special stories that she has been pondering in her heart, including the story of a 12-year-old Jesus missing in the temple and her Magnificat! How many of us long to be able to share with such an interesting and genial doctor?
Scholars also tell us that St. Luke had quite a literary knack! The parables and stories that appear in his gospel are written to appeal to a larger audience. And indeed they do! The theme of “lost and found: (from the prodigal son to the lost coin, or the lost sheep) is universal and highly relatable! But St. Luke also takes the reader into the spiritual realm by revealing God’s angels active in the lives of the Holy Family. Perhaps it his description of the shipwreck at the end of Acts of the Apostles that truly shows Luke as a master storyteller.
Tradition tells us that the good physician was also a painter and the painted some of the first icons. Hobbies enrich our lives and the lives of those around us!
It is not known how St. Luke died. Some say he attained old age, and others say he was martyred by the Romans.
On his feast day, let us contemplate St. Luke’s gospel, particularly the words of Our Lady, and inspired by St. Luke’s example, let us determine within to use the talents God has given us to bring to our lives and to our homes.
Copyright 2016 Elena LaVictoire