I vividly remember my undergraduate Scripture studies on the Gospels. My professor, a Franciscan nun, was well-versed in the Gospels and the Gospel writers. She began the semester-long course by saying that Dante referred to the writer of St. Luke’s Gospel as the “scribe of Christ’s gentleness.”
Luke was the only Gentile to write books of the Bible, and he was a close companion of St. Paul. St. Luke is known as a very gifted writer, a physician by trade with marked artistic abilities. The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles are works that depict an author who certainly was aware of the needs of his local community.
One of the major concerns for Luke was the fact that the people were beginning to give up their faith. They were questioning how Jesus’ words, 60 years past to the Hebrew people, could still be pertinent to a “new generation” and culture, to the Greek people. Because of this, Luke stresses mercy, gentleness, and healing time and again. The “Prodigal Son” is one of Luke’s shining examples of God’s unfathomable gentleness, love, and mercy.
Luke focuses on Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem—in other words, on his way back to God. The theme of journey is so important to Luke, because he saw one’s journey back to God as the way to salvation. The journey of Jesus is one of gentle service. Luke depicts Jesus often reaching out to the poor and the marginalized in gentle and loving ways.
There are many life lessons we can learn from St. Luke, whose feast day we celebrate on October 18. Sometimes, I think we also wonder how to apply Jesus’ life and words from long ago to our own lives in the 21st century. The themes that were so important to St. Luke are still themes essential for us today.
Mercy, healing, companionship on the journey, and especially gentleness toward one another are very much needed in our own lives as followers of Jesus. We can lead much more effectively and fruitfully if we “put on an apron” (Luke 12:37) and serve as Jesus served, just as the “scribe of Christ’s gentleness” illustrates in his writings. Therein, we find authentic and true leadership.
God of gentleness, mercy, and compassion, help us to learn well the same lessons that were so important to St. Luke. Help us to reach out to others in need. Help us to be healers and people of joy. May we serve others and know the gift of human relationships. As we journey back home to God, may we do so knowing that we are called to a life of service. St. Luke, pray for us. Amen.