Today, the Church celebrates the witness of the great saint, Luke, one of the greatest evangelists for the Faith.
An evangelist bears the Gospel into the world in charismatic and extraordinary ways. The Gospel is “good news” and this “good news” is not just pleasant, friendly greetings, but testimony to the Lord Jesus- an evangelist testifies to who the Lord Jesus really and truly is and invites people to know him with the familiarity with which one knows a friend and to share a relationship with Christ in the Church.
An evangelist will direct attention away from themselves and towards Christ, for he is the living source of the message, the “good news” they share with the world.
Luke’s legacy as an evangelist exists today in two of magnificent texts that are included in the New Testament- a Gospel, that is credited to his name and a book called Acts of the Apostles, which is, in many respects, a continuation of his Gospel.
A Gospel is not just the good news about the Lord Jesus that is shared by an evangelist, it is also a specific literary style and genre. A Gospel text announces things of great importance about the Lord Jesus and takes eyewitness testimony to Christ and from that creates a story, a narrative. The purpose of this story is introduce us to the Lord Jesus and a Gospel offers this introduction so that we might come to believe that Jesus is the Lord and Savior of the world and having professed this belief, offer our very lives to him as disciples.
A Gospel is not just about imparting information about the Lord Jesus, but it is about inviting us to be part of a new way of life and this way of life is called the Church.
The Gospel of Luke offers as his master idea or organizing principle the significance of the temple as the way to understand who the Lord Jesus really and truly is. Christ the Lord makes himself for the healing and redemption of the world a new kind of temple. How so?
Christ is God, who accepts a human nature and lives a real, human life. He does this so that his very person, the body he accepts, can serve as the route of access to communion with God. God offers himself to us, not just in a building, but in a body. It is in the body of the Lord Jesus that he makes himself know and this body is the living source of a relationship with God. It is this body, the Gospel of Luke testifies, that is the new temple.
We come to know this new temple, the body of the Lord Jesus, through the Mass.
The mass is the temple worship of the new temple of the Body of Christ.
Luke also writes the New Testament book called the Acts of the Apostles. This text takes eyewitness testimony about the earliest years of the Church’s life and relates this information to us in the form of a great adventure story.
The primary theme of the Book of Acts is that there is a dynamic equivalence between Christ and his Church. The Church is in the world as Christ is in the world and the mission of the Church is the mission of Christ.
The Church is not just an institution that exists to satisfy our faith based needs, but the Church is a living source of encounter with the Lord Jesus himself. It is through the Church that the world comes to know Christ and share a life with him.
The mission of those who have come to know Christ in the Church is to go out into the world and take great risks to introduce Christ to others. This is what evangelization means- introducing people to Christ and offering them a relationship with him in his Church.
We know little personal details about Saint Luke, and this should not surprise us, because the saints will disappear into the Church, allowing Christ to increase as they decrease.
Tradition remembers Saint Luke, not just a one of the Church’s greatest evangelists, but also as a physician and an artist.
This seems fitting, for an evangelist offers Christ’s salvation into the world, a gift that we shouldn’t just reduce to meaning that you get to go to heaven when you leave this world. Salvation means healing. Christ offers through his Church healing to a world whose health has been broken by the poison of the evil one. The Church is meant to be a physician who offers the remedy of Christ to a world that has become soul-sick.
The image offered by Pope Francis comes to mind, that of the Church as a field hospital, into which the world is drawn to know Christ and experience the healing power of his mercy. Our mission is to go out into the world and bring the walking wounded into the field hospital of the Church. The identification of Saint Luke as a physician gestures towards this truth about our mission.
Saint Luke is also an artist, which means that he was capable of creating wonderful things of great beauty. Beauty is the privileged way that people are invited to know Christ by the Church. Indeed, Pope Francis speaks about the “way of beauty” in his letter to the Church entitled “The Joy of the Gospel.”
A joyous Church makes its joy known through works of beauty, and these works of beauty are a merciful gift to the world- a source of life and hope.
Beauty attracts people to Christ, introduces people to his truth, and offers to them the invitation to a new way of life.
So on this day when the Church celebrates the great saint Luke, let us give more attention to our mission of mercy, of healing and consider the ways we gather people into the field hospital of the Church. In this regard, what have we done or what have we failed to do?
But also let us ask how this parish employs the strategy of beauty as a route of access to the Lord. Is our way of life at all beautiful to those who stand outside and look within? It what ways does the beautiful way of life of the Church serve as an invitation to others to know Christ and be his disciple?
How is our way of life evidently beautiful, if at all?
May the evangelist Saint Luke intercede for us, and through his intercession may we come to offer our lives by taking great risks for the sake of the Gospel.