October 18, 2008 - St. Luke, Evangelist

Today's Reading: Luke 10:1-9

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 17:1-20; Matthew 14:1-21

Heal the sick and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” (Luke 10:9)

Luke was a physician, the apostle Paul’s personal physician, as a matter of fact. He was trained and educated in the ways of the body. He knew a thing or two about healing. Dr. Luke knew that ordinarily sick people are not healed with a word. He also knew that virgins don’t conceive and dead men don’t rise. You don’t need a medical degree to know that. And yet, that is precisely what St. Luke tells us: Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, who healed men with His Word and even with His authority given to 70 designated representatives, died on a cross and rose bodily from the dead and appeared to His disciples.

St. Luke is a kind of “patron saint” of historians. In the opening dedication of his Gospel, Luke states that he conducted extensive research and sought to write an “orderly account” of what happened. He even extends the story beyond the death and resurrection of Jesus to His reign and the initial growth and expansion of the Church. All the while, Luke is writing history, laying out the evidence fact by fact, summoning eyewitnesses and recording depositions.

Without Luke, we would not have the Christmas story, with its angel Gabriel, and shepherds, and a manger, and the Virgin Mary pondering these things in her heart. We would not have Jesus’ ministry to the Gentiles and the inclusion of the women, and the sending of the seventy (a complete, divine number). For Luke, Jesus is the second Adam (Luke 33:37), the new head of humanity, the One who embodies the whole human race as the “son of Adam, Son of God.”

Luke reminds us that this faith in Christ is a faith in fact--hard, historic fact attested to by eyewitnesses. It is fact that runs over and against a physician’s reason and all of his senses. Luke knew that virgins don’t conceive and dead men don’t rise and the sick are not ordinarily healed by a word. And yet, he records that it all happened--for you and for your salvation.

Almighty God, our Father, Your blessed Son called St. Luke the physician, to be an evangelist and physician of the soul. Grant that the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments may put to flight the diseases of our souls, that with willing hearts we may ever love and serve You, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.