Today in the life of the church we have a “red letter” feast day, that of St. Luke. Author of, “The Gospel according to Luke,” and the book of Acts, Luke has played a tremendous role in how we understand Jesus, and the early church. More over, Luke gives us a manifesto on the work and agency of the Holy Spirit in the sequel to the gospel in Acts.
Luke calls his shot on wanting to put down the most complete and comprehensive account of Jesus’ life and ministry so that, like Theophilus we too, may know the truth about the birth, life and death of Jesus. He opens his gospel with the following:
“Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed. ” Luke 1:1-4
Luke’s gospel includes eleven parables of Jesus that aren’t present in any of the other gospels–including the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan. Luke is also responsible for telling the most complete story of Jesus’ life–including his conception, birth and infancy narratives.
Some of the major themes in Luke’s gospel center around God’s universal plan for creation’s salvation worked out in human history. Luke uses the word, dei, (it is necessary) as many times as all of the other gospel accounts combined…showing that God’s plan for salvation is eternal and constant. Another major theme in Luke–and why I happen to like Luke’s gospel so much–is the notion that God’s plan for salvation, the Good News, is available and meant for all. Luke goes to extraordinary lengths to show this mercy and love not only in his gospel account, but also in the book of Acts.
Unlike the rough and ready Greek of Mark, the Greek that Luke uses is refined, almost beautiful to see on the page. In Mark things happen “immediately,” in Luke, things, “come to pass.” This subtle and simple difference gives Luke’s gospel a quality of the story gently unfolding instead of the almost herky-jerky of the earliest gospel account written by Mark.
The gospel passage assigned to Luke’s feast day is, not surprisingly, from Luke (Luke 4:14-21). In this passage Jesus states that, “the scripture has been fulfilled.” And, if we look at Luke’s writing, that is what he has shown us–that through the life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the scripture has indeed been fulfilled. Luke took it upon himself to proclaim this message of salvation to the world with his writings. What message do you proclaim to the world? What message of Good News do you share with the world which is broken and hungry and aching for the stories we proclaim?