Summary: What can we glean from Luke the Evangelist and what can we apply in our lives. Luke was a Consummate Historian. He was also an evangelist to the Gentiles and his tow books reflect that. He was a Physician and a gentle and patient man
St Luke’s Day
Bishop Albino Luciani, who later became Pope John Paul I, used to write fictional letters to people with whom he could never have come into contact as a way of instructing his flock.
He wrote letters - among others to Mark Twain, St. Joan of Arc and St. Luke. (They have been published in a book Illustrissimi: Letters from Pope John Paul I ) ]
This is part of his letter to St. Luke:
“Dear St. Luke, I have always been fond of you because you are a man of great sweetness filled with the spirit of conciliation.
In your Gospel you stress that Christ is infinitely good, that sinners are the object of a special love on God’s part, that Jesus almost ostentatiously made the acquaintance of those who did not enjoy any consideration in the world.
You are the only one who gives us the story of Christ’s nativity and childhood which we hear read at Christmas always with renewed emotion.
One little phrase of yours in particular captures my attention, ‘wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’
It is the phrase that inspired all the Christmas crèches in the world and thousands of stupendous paintings. I set beside this phrase a stanza of the breviary,
he was willing to lie on straw,
he was not afraid of the manger,
he was nourished with a little mouth,
he who feeds even the least of the birds.
Having done that -I asked myself, ‘If Christ took that very humble place, what place do we take?’”
St. Jerome said “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” and certainly as we read Luke we feel that we are getting to know Christ. (from Fr Tommy Lane) (http://www.frtommylane.com/homilies/daily/proper_of_saints/october_18_Saint_Luke.htm)
For many of us St Luke is a rather background character in the Bible.
All we know for a fact about the person of Luke was that he was a medical doctor, a Gentile – ie a non Jew and a friend of St Pauls.
But before we write him off it is worth remembering he wrote about 26% of the New Testament.
Only Paul wrote more (28%) and St John comes in third place with 16% of the NT.
And he is the only Gentile writer – that is non Jewish writer in the whole Bible.
Luke is a consummate historian – and much of his history in Luke and Acts has been shown to be historically accurate.
In the late 19th Century, Sir William Ramsay (1851-1939), went out to Asia Minor with the aim of proving Acts to be an inaccurate history but to his surprise he changed his mind.
Ramsay’s study led him to conclude that
“Luke’s history is unsurpassed in respect to its trustworthiness” (Sir William Ramsay, St. Paul The Traveler and Roman Citizen. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1962, p. 81)
and he went on to say
“Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements trustworthy . . . this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians” (Sir William Ramsay, The Bearing of Recent Discoveries on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1953, p. 222).
But Luke is not just a “distant“ historian – who wrote the twofold treatise of Luke-Acts (which was originally one book) addressed to “Theophilus” – whose name means “Friend of God”.
2. Living testimony
Luke is also a companion in the history he recorded in the Book of Acts
He turns up in the Book of Acts – but you would miss it unless you were looking for him
We see him appear on the scene in Acts as follows.
As I read it – see if you can pick it up – starting in Acts 16:6:
6 Paul and his companions travelled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.
7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.
8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.
9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis.
12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.