Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Ave Maria!
Feast of Saint Luke—Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost—18 October AD 2015


2 Cor. viii: 16-24

A reading from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians:

    Brethren, Thanks be to God, who has inspired Titus with this same zeal for you.  For not only has he accepted our exhortation, but being very zealous himself, he has gone to you of his own choice.  And we have sent along with him the brother whose services to the Gospel are praised in all the churches; and what is more, who was also appointed by the churches to travel with us in this work of grace which is being done by us, to the glory of the Lord, and to show our own readiness.  We are on our guard, lest anyone should slander us in the matter of the administration of this generous amount.  For we take forethought for what is honorable, not only before God, but also in the sight of men.  And we have sent with them also our brother, whom we have proved to be zealous often, and in many things, but who now is more earnest than ever;  because of his great confidence in you, whether as regards Titus, who is my companion and fellow worker among you;  or as regards our brethren, the messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ.  Give them, therefore, in the sight of the churches, a proof of your charity, and of our boasting on your behalf.

Luc. x: 1-9

The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Luke:

    At that time, the Lord appointed seventy-two others, and sent them off two by two before Him, into every town and place where He Himself was about to come.  And He said to them, “The harvest is indeed great, but the laborers are few.  Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest.  Go.  Behold, I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves.  Carry neither purse, nor wallet, nor sandals, and greet no one on the way.  Whatever house you enter, say first, ‘Peace be unto this house!’  And if a son of peace be there, your peace will rest upon him;  but if not, it will return to you.  And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they have; for the laborer deserves his wages.  Do not go from house to house.  And whatever town you enter, and they receive you, eat what is set before you, and cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’”

    Those of you who have been in this church a few years know that on Sexagesima Sunday I usually refer to the Epistle (2 Cor. 11:19-12:9) as Saint Paul’s adventure story.  It the one where he writes about how many times he was shipwrecked, and how many times he was scourged, and how he escaped from Damascus by being “lowered in a basket through a window in the wall.”[1]  I have always thought of Saint Paul as the perfect model for Catholics committed to the Faith, for ever after the incident on the road to Damascus, Paul followed Christ unconditionally; willing to suffer any difficulty for the propagation of the Faith.

    Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Luke, who was a devoted co‑worker with Saint Paul, and almost equally worthy of the same praise that I just gave Saint Paul.  We know that Luke was a physician from Antioch in the south of modern day Turkey—although in Luke’s time it was a center of Greek culture in what was then Syria.  As a physician he was a valuable asset to Paul, who seems to have had vision problems, lameness, and may have had the stigmata, the wounds of the crucifixion on his body.[2]

    Curiously, the words of today’s Collect seem to claim a similar suffering borne by Saint Luke: “St. Luke, Thine evangelist; who, for the glory of Thy name, ever bore in his body the mortification of the cross.”

    Luke was someone whom Paul could send on the mission.  Today’s Epistle refers to sending Titus and another “brother” to Corinth to take up a collection to relieve the poor Christians of Jerusalem—most Scripture scholars believe that the “brother” was Saint Luke.”[3]

    The two seem to have met in the ancient city of Troas, near Troy, on the Adriatic coast.  This is implied in the sixteenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, the book which Luke wrote to describe the events that began with our Lord’s Ascension. Up until that chapter Luke writes about “he” or “they,” but in the eleventh verse the pronoun becomes “we.”[4]  Except for a few temporary absences, like the mission to the Corinthians, Luke remained with Paul until the latter’s death in Rome around AD 67.  As I said before, he shared in Paul’s “adventure story.”

    Luke’s Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles seem to have been written after Paul’s death, perhaps at the request of someone called Theophilus.  It is possible that Luke was addressing all faithful Christians—all who loved God, for in Greek, theophilos (θεόφιλος) translates as “one who loves God” or as “one whom God loves.”  Before meeting Saint Paul, Luke was not an eyewitness to the events he describes.  But he seems to have interviewed the key figures, and includes important details that only the Blessed Virgin Mary could have known—we should be grateful for his historical curiosity.

    Luke is also said to have been an artist, and to have painted portraits of the Blessed Virgin. Usually in the style of Mary pointing to Jesus as the ultimate source of our salvation.  It is claimed that he painted the icon of the Black Madonna of Our Lady of Częstochowa, housed today in the Jazna Góra Monastery in Poland.  The same claim is made for the icon of Our Lady of Vladimir, today kept in Moscow, in the former church of Saint Nicholas.  Luke’s writings bear the careful attention to detail one expects of an artist.

    My intention in this sermon was to expose to you another hero of Catholicism—one very much like Saint Paul, but just a little bit easier to imitate in our daily lives.

    In Saint Luke we can join all those who have given their lives to the cause of Jesus Christ without hesitation, or limitation.  We can become like Saint Paul, or our Holy Lord Himself, ready to die for the salvation of men and women. In Saint Luke we can join all those who read the Bible or pray the Rosary; thankful to him for details we would have never known about Jesus and Mary without him.  In union with Saint Luke we can keep an icon in our minds of Mary pointing to the truth of Jesus Christ.

    And, pointing to the truth that is Jesus Christ may be the second most important things that Saint Luke did for us.  And, maybe, pointing to the truth that is Jesus Christ is the second most important thing any of us can do in our crazy world—a world that denies the possibility of objective truth.  The most important thing, of course is to become “theopholis”—one who loves God and is loved by God.





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