Wednesday, December 28, 2011

St. Luke

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St. Luke

Luke’s unique perspective on Jesus can be seen in the six miracles and eighteen parables he wrote about in his Gospel. Not too much is known about Luke’s early life. Historians believe that St. Luke was born a Greek and a Gentile at Antioch in Syria. He was probably born a slave, which meant that at that time that he was educated in medicines and healing, a common practice during this time period, and took over the role of family physician. Since I have always been interested in herbs and plants and how they relate to pharmaceutical purposes, I have been interested in St. Luke, often referred to as a patron saint of physicians.

Luke’s Christian ministry is described in Acts. Luke joined St. Paul at age fifty-one and accompanied him first to Samothrace, Neapolis, and finally Philippi. While Paul was in prison, Luke kept the church going in his absence. Although a specific date is not known for his birthdate, Luke lived during the time of St. Paul and is believed to have died at age eighty-four after settling in Greece to write his account of Jesus life. He traveled with St. Paul as a missionary during his fifties and later settled in Greece to write his Gospel. (Catholic University of America, 000)

Historians don’t have much information about his family other than he was probably a slave trained to be a doctor. The main things St. Luke is noted for are being a physician, being a missionary with St. Paul and writing one of the four Gospels of Jesus. The Gospel according to St. Luke is the most descriptive of all four Gospels. St. Luke describes in detail the miracles and many parables of Jesus. It is clear that St. Luke also had a special devotion to Mary and was referred to by St. Paul as “Luke, the beloved physician.” (Colossians 414)

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Forgiveness and God’s mercy to sinners is of primary importance to Luke. Only in Luke do we hear the parable of The Prodigal Son. Throughout Luke’s Gospel, Jesus takes the side of the sinner who wants to return to God’s mercy. Reading St. Luke’s Gospel also indicates his character as one who loved the poor, who wanted the door to God’s kingdom open to everyone, who respected women and who saw hope for God’s mercy for everyone. ((,[Online]) Luke’s Gospel is also the only Gospel that describes the story of the Annunciation, Mary’s visit to Elizabeth and the story of Jesus’ disappearance in Jerusalem. Part of the Hail Mary prayer is taken directly from St. Luke’s Gospel.(Attwater and Thurston, 181)

St. Luke is often seen with the symbols of sacrifice either a calf or an ox, which correlates with the sacrifice Jesus, made for the world. St. Luke is one of the most extensive writers of the New Testament. He was a disciple of St. Paul, and his companion on some of his missionary journeys. He was also an author of Acts. (Farmer, 1) His Gospel is much longer than St. Matthew’s and is considered by theologians to be the most descriptive of all four authors. (Catholic University of America, 000) The best way to learn about St. Luke is to read his Gospel, which reflects his thinking about Jesus. He also describes six miracles and eighteen parables not mentioned in the other gospels. (Attwater and Thurston, 181)

St. Luke had a profound effect on early Christianity even though details of his early and later life are sketchy. He was one of the first members of the Christian community at Antioch and as a historian appealed to the Gentiles because of his emphasis on poverty, prayer, and purity of heart reflected in his gospel. He wrote about what he experienced and observed in his mission work with St. Paul. Over two thousand years later, St. Luke’s gospel and the Acts of the Apostle still have relevance in a modern world where hope is desperately needed. Reading about Jesus many miracles and learning about forgiveness in the Parable of the Prodigal Son is as applicable today as it was during the time of the New Testament. Luke’s greatest contribution to the Catholic Church was his ability to reverently write about early Christian experiences and validate as fact what is now known as part of our doctrine of the church.

In conclusion, St. Luke is an important saint to study because of his major link to understanding the early church during the time of the New Testament. His biography is sketchy, but he is well known to be a companion of St. Paul and author of the Acts of the Apostles as well as the Third Gospel. When reading these documents, we gain some important reflections on Luke’s character such as his view on the poor and respect for women. Understanding the New Testament helps us to grow as better Christians and apply those lessons to our own lives.

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