Tuesday, October 18, 2011

St Luke


Tradition has it that St Luke was one of the Seventy sent out by Jesus (hence our Gospel reading for this, his festival day) as well as being the other, unnamed, disciple who journeyed to Emmaus on the first Easter morn. However, if we are to consider him as a candidate for authorship of the Gospel that bears his name, as well as Acts, then these traditions are most likely not correct, for the writer makes it clear that he is not an eye-witness to the Gospel events.

So what do we know about St Luke? Well, from St Paul's letters we know that he was a doctor - he is called the 'beloved physician' - and one of his companions on his missions and that he was a gentile. As the author of Acts starts referring to events in the first person late in that book, then we know that the writer was a companion of St Paul. And a process of elimination of Paul's known companions, based on the information we have in the New Testament, makes St Luke the most likely author of Acts. And as no serious scholar suggests that Acts and St Luke's Gospel had different authors, this means that we have little reason to doubt that St Luke is the writer of the Gospel that bears his name.

There is something about the idea of the 'beloved physician' being the author of one of the Gospels that I find very appealing, because it carries with it, for me, the idea that this beloved doctor dispensed his best medicine through it - the healing medicine of the the good news of Jesus Christ. And it is interesting to note to whom he addresses his Gospel. It is to 'Theophilus' which means 'lover of God.' So it means that his Gospel is also addressed to all those who love God ... and that the healing medicine of this Gospel is also administered directly to us, by the beloved physician who feast we celebrate today. Amen.

(a short reflection preached in St Fin Barre's Cathedral Cork on the feast of St Luke)

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