Tuesday, October 18, 2011
St Luke, Evangelist
It would be very easy to be envious of the evangelist Luke. After all, he was given the joyful grace of assembling and gathering stories and sayings of Jesus, even from those who knew him directly, at the very least the earliest of Christians, and sharing that Good News with the whole world. He was a companion of St Paul himself, and was entrusted by him to share in his proclamation of salvation in Jesus Christ, becoming the brother whose praise is in the Gospel. Moreover, if we believe the traditions passed on about Luke, he had a special and privileged access to the Blessed Virgin Mary. From her he derived those intimate stories of the Annunciation and the Lord's conception, of the Visitation, of the shepherds in Bethlehem, and of the Presentation in the Temple, all those joyful mysteries of Christ's infancy. Indeed, if we trust the stories handed on, Luke was the first iconographer, and by his hand the world received its first icon of the Virgin.
While we might easily say we would prefer to have been in Luke's place and he in ours, we hear quite a different sentiment from the Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel: Remove not from house to house. And into what city soever you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you; and heal the sick that are therein; and say to them: The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
Like the seventy-two sent to proclaim the Gospel and be as heralds of the Incarnate Word's coming, we too can be easily tempted to wish for another and different set of circumstances in which to proclaim the Good News. We might wish to find ourselves in a different place or born in a different time. We might desire that we faced different challenges to our proclamation of Jesus Christ than those which confront us. In all of this, we imagine that the time and place we long for, the challenges we would gladly meet, are more appropriate to us and that we would be better equipped to handle them rather than the circumstances we actually face.
However, such thoughts and desires betray a misunderstanding of the word of an evangelist. Our task as heralds is to proclaim the Gospel; it is for God alone to see that our proclamation bears fruit. To be sure, we will face opposition, and we might understandably hope that those obstacles be taken away. All the same, in faith we are assured that whatever part of the harvest God has appointed us to gather, whatever the wolves arrayed against us, the Lord will surely stand by us and give us strength, so that through us, the proclamation of the Good News might come to completion.