Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, author of a gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, one who seeks to offer us, as lovers of God, the kin of Theophilus to whom he dedicates his volumes, a well-ordered account of acts of a rather disorderly Messiah and an unruly Spirit.
In Luke, we find a poet and singer of subversive songs of liberation:
Mary, the mother of Jesus, finds the song of Hannah on her lips, the song of the faithful and mighty God who scatters the proud and lifts up the lowly, who remembers his promises.
Zechariah, the father of John the Baptizer, opens his mouth at the direction of the spirit and proclaims a God who gives light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, a God who rescues his people.
Angels appear to poor shepherds singing: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those who he favors!”
Simeon, who takes Jesus in his arms during his dedication at the Temple, proclaiming, “My eyes have seen your salvation, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
In Luke, we may not find a historian who lives up to our standards but we find a storyteller who far exceeds them:
Luke presents us with a topsy-turvy kingdom as he tells us the stories of a good Samaritan, of a rich fool, a bent woman, parables of lost things – coins and wayward sons, which are found, stories of shrewd managers, a persistent widow capable of winning over an unjust judge, and a short tax collector named Zaccheus.
Luke tells us of a Jesus who comes to us unexpectedly and yet just as God promised – as a vulnerable child who is good news for poor shepherds and as a stranger on the road to Emmaus when all hope seems to be lost.
Luke gives us glimpses of a new people, formed along the road to Jerusalem, brought together and taught at table, and sent out to the ends of the earth by the Spirit.
How does Luke flavor your understanding of the gospel?
A Sonnet for St. Luke, by Malcolm Guite
His gospel is itself a living creature
A ground and glory round the throne of God,
Where earth and heaven breathe through human nature
And One upon the throne sees it is good.
Luke is the living pillar of our healing,
A lowly ox, the servant of the four,
We turn his page to find his face revealing
The wonder, and the welcome of the poor.
He breathes good news to all who bear a burden
Good news to all who turn and try again,
The meek rejoice and prodigals find pardon,
A lost thief reaches paradise through pain,
The voiceless find their voice in every word
And, with Our Lady, magnify Our Lord.