18 October, Monday — Learning about St Luke the Evangelist

Oct 18 – Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist

St. Luke (d. 74) was born to pagan Greek parents, and possibly a slave. He was one of the earliest converts, and a physician studying in Antioch and Tarsus. He probably travelled as a ship’s doctor, and many charitable societies of physicians are named after him. Legend has it that he was also a painter who may have done portraits of Jesus and Mary, but none have ever been correctly or definitively attributed to him; this story, and the inspiration his Gospel has always given artists, led to his patronage of them.

He met St. Paul at Troas and evangelised Greece and Rome with him, being there for the shipwreck and other perils of the voyage to Rome, and stayed in Rome for Paul’s two years in prison. He wrote the Gospel According to Luke, much of which was based on the teachings and writings of Paul, interviews with early Christians, and his own experiences. He also wrote a history of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles. He was likely to have been martyred for his faith.

– Patron Saint Index

2 Tim 4:10–17
Lk 10:1-9

Only Luke is with me.

Today we mark the feast of Luke the Evangelist, and I found it intriguing that the first reading focuses on his relationship with Paul. It reminded me of the movie Paul, Apostle of Christ, which depicted Paul’s final days in prison through the eyes of Luke. I enjoyed the movie (though it did feel a little slow sometimes) and found it enlightening for how it brought the historical period and characters to life. I also appreciated how it helped me learn more about Luke, since I had not even known he was one of Paul’s companions before the movie.

Indeed, from today’s reading I imagine that Paul and Luke must have been quite close. I do not know the full reasons why Paul’s other companions chose to leave, but I think part of Luke’s decision to stay was rooted in his faith, courage and strong relationship with Paul. Perhaps these qualities (along with perseverance and discipline) also enabled Luke to write his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Through the power of grace, Luke’s work has then been carried down through the centuries to enable us to encounter Jesus the same way that Luke got to know our Lord from Paul and the others he met.

On a related note, my friends and I have been (slowly) reading Cardinal George Pell’s prison journal, which he meticulously kept throughout his year-long imprisonment before the charges against him were overturned and he was freed. Thinking of Paul writing the above passage in his cell, I was reminded of the many times Cardinal Pell recounted the visits and letters he received from his family, friends and supporters – as well as the difficulties some of them faced for stepping forward to assert his innocence. I was also reminded that the persecution that Paul faced is still prevalent today, in various forms. If any of us find ourselves in similar circumstances as Luke or Cardinal Pell’s supporters, I pray that we will be able to draw on the same faith, courage and perseverance that Luke had to discern our Lord’s will, and how we are to carry it out.  

(Today’s OXYGEN by Jaclyn Lam)

Prayer: Jesus, may we be inspired by St Luke the Evangelist’s example to discern the vocation you have for each of us. Help us to be open to You and grant us the courage, perseverance and determination we need.

Thanksgiving: Lord, we praise and thank you for enabling us to know and love you through the works of St Luke the Evangelist.  

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