Luke’s Focus and Goal
October 18 Feast of Saint Luke, evangelist
The Responsorial (Psalm 145) declares, “Your friends tell the glory of your kingship, Lord.”
Luke is mentioned in 2Timothy 4:10-17 when Paul writes from prison, “I have no one with me but Luke.” He was not one of the Twelve apostles. The Gospel, Luke 10:1-9, could make us think he was one of the additional seventy-two disciples Jesus “sent before him to every place he intended to visit,” but Luke’s prologue makes clear he gathered his information from others “who were eyewitnesses from the beginning.”
Luke probably wrote around A.D. 80-90. At sixty years after Jesus, that would be about the same interval as someone writing in the year 2000 about World War II, an event still vivid to those of my generation.
In the New American Bible (Study Edition, 1990), the introduction and Reading Guide to Luke’s two-volume work, his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, say his goal was to provide assurance to Christians by showing “that what the church preaches is rooted in the ministry of Jesus and the preaching of the first apostles.”
Luke also wants to show how “Christianity belongs to the larger world of the Roman Empire” and how “the story of Jesus and the Church relates to events in contemporary Palestinian and Roman history.” His Gospel “is dominated by a historical perspective.” God’s plan of salvation “accomplished during the period of Jesus... is extended to all humanity during the period of the Church.” He wants to show that Christianity is a religion “capable of meeting the needs of a world empire like... Rome.” This is food for thought for us as stewards of the kingship of Christ.
Luke can be called “the Gospel of daily life.” He “shifts the early Christian emphasis away from the expectation of an imminent parousia to the day-to-day... conduct of Christian disciples in the interim period between the ascension and the parousia.” This is the time of stewardship exercised through living daily as Christ, bearing witness through one’s day-to-day lifestyle as a prophet (“no gospel writer is more concerned with the role of the Spirit in the life of Jesus and the Christian disciple”), and ministering as a priest by Baptism, especially in showing mercy and compassion to the “poor and lowly, the outcast, the sinner and the afflicted.” In Luke Jesus “is particularly demanding of those who would be his disciples.” Luke stresses the importance of prayer and the need for “absolute and total detachment from family and material possessions.” The parable of the sower (Luke 8:5-15) shows this as a condition for allowing the seed of God’s word to grow to full maturity in our hearts as we meditate on God’s word
Because money plays such a role in daily living, this may be the reason Luke makes our use of it the criterion for judging our response to Jesus (see Luke 3:11-14).
Luke shows us “God’s plan of salvation is being worked out through the events that are occurring,” including Christ’s suffering and death. Some are real tragedies, like people’s rejection of Jesus, but God’s plan will be fulfilled. As stewards of his kingship, we need to keep this in mind. The bottom line of human history is, “Your friends tell the glory of your kingship, Lord.”
Initiative: Get to know Luke. Start by reading the introduction to his writings (Gospel and Acts) in your bible.