St. Luke-Day Homily 2019

Saint Luke
St Luke

If Saint Luke had not written, we would not know…

  1. Anything about the Visitation. The Canticle of Zechariah. The Magnificat.
  2. Anything about the shepherds on Christmas Eve. Which means we wouldn’t have the Gloria, which we sing at every Sunday Mass and feast day.
  3. Anything about the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. The Canticle of Simeon, “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace…”
  4. Anything about Mary and Joseph finding Jesus in the Temple at age twelve. In other words, without St. Luke’s gospel, we simply wouldn’t have the Holy Rosary, as we know it.
  5. We wouldn’t know anything about the healing of the ten lepers, which we heard about at Mass this past Sunday. Or anything about the raising of the widow of Nain’s son from the dead. Or about a bunch of other miracles Jesus did.
  6. We wouldn’t know that contemplative Mary had chosen the better part than busy Martha.
  7. We wouldn’t know the parable of the Good Samaritan. Or the parable of the Prodigal Son. Or a bunch of other parables.
  8. We wouldn’t know that Jesus spoke to Moses and Elijah about the Paschal Mystery, during the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor.
  9. We wouldn’t know that the women of Jerusalem wept beside the Way of the Cross.
  10. Or about the repentant criminal beside Jesus.
  11. Or that Jesus cried out, “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit,” before He died.
  12. Or about the Lord appearing on Easter Sunday to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

I’ll stop at twelve, in honor of the twelve Apostles. But there are, in fact, many other details of the life of the Savior—details that we know, that we take for granted that we know—details which we have learned one way, and only one way. Because St. Luke wrote them down for us.

(And we’re not even getting into the fact that we know about Pentecost, and St. Peter’s sermon on Pentecost, and St. Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin, and the first Christian martyrdoms, and St. Paul’s conversion, and St. Paul’s sermon in Athens, and the Council of Jerusalem, and St. Paul’s heroic deeds and explanation of his life–and everything else written in the Acts of the Apostles—we know all that, only because St. Luke wrote it down for us.)

st peters dome w evangelists baldachino

The four holy Evangelists get a unique place of honor in the artwork of many of the most beautiful churches on earth. Everyone know this? The four evangelists hold up the roof and dome of the church, so to speak. Their symbols adorn the tops of the four central columns of traditional cruciform churches.

A unique place of honor. They deserve it. St. Luke deserves it.

Ten-Point List of Easter-Season Instructions

Everyone knows who wrote Acts of the Apostles? I mean, besides God. The human author. Right! St. Luke.

So: not only do our first reading and gospel for Holy Mass on Ascension Day have the same human author, but also: the two readings form one continuous passage from St. Luke’s work. We just read them in reverse order. Our gospel reading comes from the end of St. Luke’s first book. And our reading from Acts is the beginning of his second.

St Luke
St Luke
We read from Acts 1, “In my first book, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day He was taken up, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles.”

“The day He was taken up.” What day was that? Today! Ascension Day.

A day of transition: The transition between St. Luke’s first book and his second. The transition between Christ’s ministry to the human race on earth, and His ministry to the human race from heaven.

He made us essential to His ministry from heaven. We read that, for forty days prior to his transition from earth to heaven, the Lord Jesus gave instructions to His apostles. For the forty days after He rose from the dead, Jesus remained on earth, instructing.

Do we know exactly what those instructions were?

Yes and no. We can’t exactly download the podcast. For us to know and understand the instructions Christ gave during the original Easter season, we need the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Only when we get to heaven, please God, will we fully know and understand everything.

But let’s speculate a little, about the instructions He gave. What if He rendered them in the form of a ten-point list?

1. My friends, you saw Me die. But I live. When I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself.
2. Break the bread, in memory of Me.
3. Do not be afraid.
4. Gird your loins, and light your lamps, for you do not know when the final hour will come.
5. Sell what you have, and give to the poor, and 6. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
7. Love one another.
8. Go, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
9. Rejoice and be glad! Your names are written in heaven.
10. Be good to your mom.

Provocation to Humility

Mt. Precipice, Nazareth

Jesus said, “I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.

“Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”

When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. (Luke 4:25-29)

Last Sunday we read that the Lord Jesus went to the synagogue in Nazareth and announced to the faithful Jews in His hometown that He is the Messiah.

We might think that this dramatic revelation would have led to immediate euphoria. We might think that, when the Messiah revealed Himself to the people who had known Him since He was a boy, everybody would have believed, and rejoiced, and smiled, and hugged, and said nice things about each other.

But this is not what happened. The people in the synagogue doubted. “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”

Continue reading “Provocation to Humility”

Acceptable 2010 starts with St. Luke

The Hoyas tore up the hapless Rutgers Scarlet Knights this afternoon.

The most interesting part of the game was a Subway radio commercial. The delirious announcer promises a hot pastrami sandwich, “We will follow you blindly, like nearsighted bison on a flavor stampede.”

Here is a homily for tomorrow’s Holy Mass:

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you. (Luke 1:1-3)

In the synagogue in Nazareth, the Lord Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has sent me to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

Our kind and loving Creator is giving us this year of 2010. He has given us almost a month of it already. What are we going to do with this precious gift?

We are not little amoebas floating in the waters of time. We are not bystanders of 2010, watching it flow by, as it becomes the kind of year that is not acceptable to God, with nothing for us to do about it. No. We can take a firm grip on A.D. 2010 and turn it into something beautiful and good.

Now, let me tell you the first thing we are going to do to make this year acceptable. This year we are going to read the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke.

Continue reading “Acceptable 2010 starts with St. Luke”