Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Luke, author of both one of the four Gospels and of the Acts of the Apostles.
Both books have been favorites of mine. I love Luke’s Gospel both for its beginning and its end. Only Luke’s Gospel contains the episodes of the Annunciation and the Visitation, both of which have been powerful passages in my prayer experience. And only Luke has the resurrected Jesus meeting the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, a passage that has always been close to my heart. And in the Easter season, praying with Luke’s account of the growth and development of the early Church following Jesus’ ascension is a moving experience.
Doubtless part of my attraction to Luke also stems from his emphasis on the poor and the marginalized. More so than the other evangelists, Luke portrays Jesus’ openness toward everyone that needed his attention, regardless of who they were, regardless of how they were despised by others. He emphasizes Jesus concern for the poor, for widows, for lepers, for victims of prejudice.
Luke’s Gospel carries a twofold message. First, that all are welcomed by Jesus, regardless of who they are and how little they have. Second, that we have an obligation to be sensitive to the needs of the poor and marginalized, to act toward them as Jesus did – to love them and to be generous in providing for their needs. That same theme is carried in Acts, where, among other things, that the “community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.”
The lessons of Luke’s writing are timeless and ones we would do well to take to heart in our times.