Farewell to Luke
Fr. Peter Daly
November 16, 2010
Goodbye St. Luke. We’ll hear from you again in two years. I’ll miss you.
This past year we have been reading from the gospel of Luke at Sunday mass in Cycle C of the book of readings, the Lectionary. Advent begins Cycle A (Matthew). Next year we read Cycle B (Mark). John gets read every year during Lent and Easter.
Of the four gospels, Luke is my favorite.
Luke is a good historian and a good story teller. He begins at the beginning and continues to the end.
Luke starts both his gospel and the sequel book of Acts, with a prologue addressed to someone named Theophilus, a Greek name meaning “lover of God.” He tells Theophilus he has compiled an orderly “narrative” of events surrounding Jesus.
Luke is consciously a historian.
Only Luke starts with the birth of John the Baptist and includes the annunciation and visitation and the nativity. Only Luke gives us the wonderful Christmas story with the angels and the shepherds. What would Christmas be without Luke?
Luke’s logical chronology continues through to the ascension of Our Lord. Luke is the only evangelist to give us any real account of the ascension. Matthew and John say nothing. Mark barely mentions it. Luke tells us both in the gospel and in Acts.
I also like Luke because he takes women seriously.
Only Luke seems to have talked to Mary. He has the Magnificat, the great song of Mary. Only he tells us of the encounter with the angel Gabriel and Mary’s famous “thy will be done.” Luke has the story of the presentation of Jesus at the temple when was a baby which meant a lot to Mary. He says she treasured that memory in her heart. Only Luke tells us about Jesus getting lost in the temple and Mary and Joseph finding Jesus and the detail that He went back to Nazareth and was obedient.
Luke seems to take the stories and opinions of other women seriously as well.
Luke tells us about Anna in the temple and the widow of Nain and her dead son. He tells us the important detail that Jesus drove seven devils out of Mary Magdalene. Luke mentions the fact that women from Galilee supported Jesus in his ministry.
Luke’s classic story of the conflict of Martha and Mary over hospitality means a lot to women. He also tells us of the story of the cure of the woman crippled by osteoporosis. Only Luke mentions the women of Jerusalem who wept for Jesus on the way of the cross.
Luke takes women seriously.
I also like Luke for his poetry.
The three great songs of the Liturgy of the Hours come from Luke. In the morning we say the Benedictus, the song of Zechariah. In the evening we say the Magnificat, the song of Mary. At night we say the Nunc Demittis, the song of Simeon in the temple. All found only in Luke.
Finally, I like Luke because he is the gospel of the poor.
Luke tells us that Jesus read Isaiah in the synagogue at Nazareth and said He had come to bring good news to the poor and liberty to the oppressed. Luke’s beatitudes bless the actual poor (not just poor in spirit) and say woe to the rich. It is Luke who tells us about the eye of the needle and the poor man Lazarus in heaven.
Luke is the historian, the poet, the gospel of women and the poor.
For all these reasons I will miss him, until we hear from him again in two years.