Recently during Mass my eldest daughter noticed something during the gospel proclamation – specifically, that St. Luke was not one of the original twelve apostles. I later tried to explain that St. Luke was a traveling companion of St. Paul and a convert to the faith, but not one of the original twelve men that Christ “sent forth” (apostle). “So, St. Luke didn’t really know Jesus?” my daughter insightfully asked. Little did I know that on this particular evening I would introduce my 7 year-old to the glory of Sacred Tradition.
No, St. Luke was not one of the original twelve. He was not an eyewitness to Christ’s works (Luke 1:2). He was the product of (and an eyewitness to) the living tradition (1 Timothy 3:15, 2 Thessalonians 2:15) of Christ’s Church, fueled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. St. Luke’s own conversion was due to the early Church’s apostolic authority and charge to carry the gospel out to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:20). St. Luke, himself, obviously benefit from this great charge – even writing about its earth-changing effects in his own Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:8, 17:6). And while St. Luke didn’t “walk” with Jesus during His public ministry, he certainly does know Him.
Consider what a special gift that St. Luke is to the Church. Without the Holy Spirit breathing (inspiration) through Luke’s pen, we would be without the “Hail Mary” or the joyful mysteries of the Rosary, for you cannot have them without Luke’s accounts of the Annunciation or Visitation (and so on) in Luke 1-2. We would, likewise, be without some of the most famous parables in history – without St. Luke we would know not of the Prodigal Son or the Good Samaritan, to name but two. Consider the invitation to the shepherds at Christ’s birth or the angelic “Gloria” we proclaim at every Mass – again, made known to us through St. Luke. How about Jesus’ boyhood misadventures when he went missing for three days? Yep, that’s St. Luke, too.
Why do I mention all of this? Well, within the busy-ness of our new Church year and Advent season, some of us may have forgotten that we’ve switched our Cycle of Readings. Until late November of 2010, the Church universal will be reading from Cycle C, meaning that on about 45 Sundays, it will be St. Luke who takes us by the hand and ear, leading us deeper into Christ’s Sacred Heart at every Liturgy of the Word. Lest we forget, “the Gospels are the heart of all the Scriptures (CCC 125).” The more we are aware of the heartbeat, the more in tune we’ll be with the greater Body of Christ.
As we “Behold the Mystery” in 2010, I’d like to make a humble suggestion to every Youth Minister or Core Member reading this blog. As a Core Team, let the Word of God “dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16). Take advantage of the incredible resources available to go deeper into the gospel – the heart of Sacred Scripture – in 2010. Resources like the St. Luke edition of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible and our new Catholic Teen Bible from Life Teen are invaluable in this regard and are both available in the Life Teen online store.
To get started, here are just a few things it would benefit our teens (and ourselves) to know about St. Luke:
- St. Luke also wrote the Acts of the Apostles (the sequel) to his gospel.
- St. Luke is the only New Testament writer that is Gentile (Colossians 4:14).
- St. Luke was known as a “physician” (2 Timothy 4:11)– educated not only as a doctor of sorts but also a cleric and quite talented writer. (Note the emphasis this physician/gospel writer places on healings within Jesus’ public ministry years.)
- St. Luke translates all Hebrew and Aramaic terms into Greek for his mainly Gentile (mostly Greek-speaking) audience.
- St. Luke champions the rights and dignity of the lowly and oppressed. St. Luke, in particular, places women in high regard although they held a relatively low social status in the ancient Mediterranean world.
- St. Luke emphasizes the theme of salvation offered only through Christ. In doing so, the Holy Spirit paints an incredible portrait through Luke’s pen – one that emphasizes compassion, mercy, healing, prayer, the power of the Holy Spirit and the need to glorify God (not self). St. Luke shows us Christ as healer, liberator and Savior.
Here are a few ideas to really break open the treasure of St. Luke’s Gospel:
- Read Luke’s gospel each week prior to your Core Meetings and use it as the foundation for prayer and discussion to start your meeting(s).
- Post a reflection about the week’s gospel on your parish website or Facebook page, to continually point everyone in your community back to the Sacred Scriptures.
- Take advantage of your Liturgy Planning Guides and the Sunday, Sunday, Sunday podcast as additional resources for unpacking the Word with your teenagers and Core Teams.
- Purchase copies of St. Luke edition of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible for the Core Team and host a Bible Study series on Luke for teens and Core. You can purchase the book in our online store.
Happy reading, my brothers and sisters in Christ!
St. Luke, pray for us.