St. Luke, Evangelist
Who was St. Luke, the Evangelist, whom the Church commemorates on October 18? Luke's gospel appears to have been written after the fall of Jerusalem between 70 and 80 A.D., probably at Antioch. We do not have reliable historical evidence about the identity of the author, whom we traditionally have called St. Luke. He was not an eyewitness of the life and ministry of Jesus. He probably was a Gentile convert, a close friend and coworker of the apostle Paul. His knowledge of Jesus came from his encounter with the risen Lord in the Christian communities he described in Acts. But he used great care in collecting information for his gospel. Among his sources are the gospel of Mark, a collection of sayings also used by the writer of Matthew, and other early traditions of "eyewitnesses and servants of the word" (1:2). Scholars have noted the high quality of Luke's literary style which indicates that he was a person of broad culture.
Luke has Jesus announce his mission in the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth in the words of Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (4:18-19). Luke emphasizes the universal mission of Jesus by tracing his genealogy back to Adam, by including the despised race of the Samaritans, by indicating that women have an important place among Jesus’ followers, by showing compassion to the poor and outcasts of society, and by promising that Gentiles would be invited to accept the gospel. Internal evidence indicates that Luke wrote his gospel for a Gentile rather than a Jewish public. When one reads Luke's gospel one gets the most vital sense of God's presence in ongoing life and history. That's why Luke’s story does not end with the resurrection of Jesus but continues with Pentecost and the ongoing story of Christ's presence in the life of the church. This story is told in Luke's second volume, the Acts of the Apostles.
In Colossians 4:14 Paul mentions Luke as “the beloved physician,” and for a long time it was thought that Luke’s language suggested he was knowledgeable about medicine. However, contemporary biblical scholars believe that Luke's medical terminology was used generally by writers and the public of his time. Nevertheless Luke has been the patron saint of physicians throughout the ages. St. Luke's Day is also a traditional time to lift up healthcare workers and the church's ministry of healing as part and parcel of the church's mission. The very vocabulary of the Greek text bears witness to it, for the word "to save" also means "to heal." Jesus is both Savior and Healer. Just as humans are inextricably one in body, mind, and spirit, salvation and health are inseparable in Jesus’ mission. Jesus' message is holistic. He says: "But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you" (11:20). Wherever the church's mission has been planted, hospitals have been established, often bearing the name of St. Luke. This is the rich legacy that Luke the Evangelist has bequeathed to the Church.
Pastor Hans Dumpys