The Orderly Account of the Lord’s Mercy, Feast of St. Luke, October 18, 2016

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist
October 18, 2016
2 Tim 4:10-17, Ps 145, Lk 10:1-9


To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 


The following points were attempted in today’s homily: 

  • Today on this feast of St. Luke the evangelist, it’s worthwhile to ponder his life. He was a young doctor, very likely in Antioch. St. Paul calls him a “beloved physician” (Col 4:14). At some point, however, it appears to have occurred at Troas, he began to accompany St. Paul, based on when he started to use the word “we” in the Acts of the Apostles. He gave up his medical career in order to become a “co-worker” (Philemon 24) of St. Paul. He loyally stayed with St. Paul until the end, being the sole coworker in prison with the apostle at the end of his life when St. Paul wrote today’s first reading to St. Timothy. There’s no indication at all that he was a leading light during St. Paul’s missionary journeys. He was simply a companion and a helper. But after St. Paul died, he wrote down for a friend — Theophilus, which could have been one person, or could have stood for all of us, as a “God-lover” — what he remembered. Little did St. Luke know when he was writing his orderly account for Theophilus that billions of people would eventually read it. He just wanted to share the faith and God did the rest. “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,” he wrote in the introduction to the Gospel that bears his name, “I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.” Then he continued the story with a second book, a sequel, about how the Holy Spirit came down on the apostles and the early Church to continue Jesus’ mission.
  • St. Luke wanted to write things down so that we would be certain about the things of the faith. Without his efforts, so many aspects of Jesus’ teaching we may never have learned. We wouldn’t know the details about John the Baptist’s conception and birth or the drama of the scenes of the Annunciation, Visitation, Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the Finding of Jesus in the Temple. We wouldn’t know of the beautiful scene of the raising of the only son of the widow of Nain. We wouldn’t know of today’s Gospel and the mission of the seventy disciples. We wouldn’t have entered Bethany with Jesus to hear Jesus’ words to Martha and Mary about choosing the better part and the one thing necessary. We wouldn’t have so many of Jesus’ incredible parables. We wouldn’t have the scene of the healing of the ten lepers, the encounter with Zacchaeus, Jesus’ interrogation by Herod, or two of Jesus seven last words. We wouldn’t have the scene of Emmaus, which is in some sense summarizes all that Jesus continues to want to do in the Church. So today we thank God for the great gift that he has given us through the faithful cooperation of the beloved physician who became St. Paul’s coworker (Phil 24) faithfully to the end, as St. Paul tells Timothy in today’s first reading.
  • In this Jubilee of Mercy, we can focus in a particular way about how his “orderly account” is all about how Christ has come as the Divine Physician to share his healing mercy with us. In Zechariah’s Benedictus the point is how the “Lord … has visited and brought redemption to his people,” he has come “to show mercy to our fathers” and John would “go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God by which the daybreak from on high will visit us to shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” We see a similar expression of mercy in Mary’s Magnificat, where Mary exclaims that God’s “mercy is from age to age to those who fear him” and that he has “helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers.” We see his mercy in his tender care for the widow of Nain, in his love for the woman in Simon the Pharisee’s House who loved much because she had been forgiven much, as Jesus illustrated in the Parable of the Two Debtors he said to Simon. We see his mercy in the Parables of the Good Samaritan, the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son, all unique to Luke. We see the importance of mercy in the blithe omissions of the Rich Man with Lazarus at his gates. We see Jesus’ will to forgive seen in the scenes with the grateful leper, with Zacchaeus, and with the Good Thief. We hear it in his crying out from Calvary, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Well before the Jubilee of Mercy, many scholars of the third Gospel had said that St. Luke’s orderly account was all ordered toward expressing the Lord’s mercy, helping us see our need for it, and encouraging us to come to receive it.
  • But on this day, we can’t stop at merely venerating St. Luke and thanking God for him and for his orderly account. God wants us in our own way to become St. Luke’s to our age. No matter what our profession, God wants us to accompany him and his apostles. He wants us first to become their coworkers. But then having learned from them, he wants us to use whatever skills we have to pass on the faith. In the Responsorial Psalm, we prayed, “Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.” God’s “faithful ones bless” him, they “discourse of the glory of [his] kingdom and speak of [his] power.” If we’re truly friends of God, then we can’t help but speak of him to the Theophiluses of our own day. Pope Francis had a beautiful passage in his exhortation on the “Joy of the Gospel” in which he said, “What kind of love would not feel the need to speak of the beloved, to point him out, to make him known?” He added that we’re convinced from “personal experience that it is not the same thing to have known Jesus as not to have known him, not the same thing to walk with him as to walk blindly, not the same thing to hear his word as not to know it, and not the same thing to contemplate him, to worship him, to find our peace in him, as not to. …We know well that with Jesus life becomes richer and that with him it is easier to find meaning in everything. This is why we evangelize.” On this feast of St. Luke, it’s important for us, as friends of Jesus, to seek to make him known and loved, to speak of his splendor, of his love, of his grace, and the difference it makes in our life.
  • How do we do that? We do it through ordinary means. We do it through our conversation with fellow sisters, family, friends and coworkers. We do it through writing, as St. Luke did, in letters to others. We do it through phone calls, and emails, and Skype conversations. We do it with the means and circumstances God has given us. But we do it with a certain tone. Jesus’ instructions in today’s Gospel are important. He tells us that there’s a certain “envelope” for the “letter” of good news we’re bringing to people. He says that we have to be walking the walk, enfleshing what we proclaim for it to be credible. He says, “Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals. … Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ … Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you. … Do not move about from one house to another. … Cure the sick in it and say,  ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’” Jesus’ essential point in these instructions is that we can’t be preaching about God’s providence and first beatitude — blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God” — if we’re carrying around money bags and worrying about provisions. We can’t preach his peace unless we’re living with that peace. We can’t preach that God loves everyone infinitely if we’re constantly looking for better accommodations. We can’t be preaching the good news unless we realize that all of it, in fact, is good news. What he’s basically communicating is that if we’re going to proclaim the Kingdom, we need to do so first in our body language so that our words will be credible. We’ve got to be living in the kingdom if we’re ever going to invite others effectively to enter into it with us. This is something that St. Luke grasped and wrote about. His was a faithful friend of the Lord, extolling the glorious splendor of that Kingdom and through his writing inviting how many millions of others over the last 2,000 years to respond to the King’s invitation.
  • In St. Luke’s orderly account of Jesus’ saving life, he made sure to include a lengthy description of the Last Supper. Like Matthew and Mark, he described Jesus’ meticulous preparations and how he “took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.’” and how he then took the cup after they had eaten and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.” (Lk 22:19-20). But St. Luke was the only one to record what Jesus said at the beginning of the celebration of the Eucharist, “I have eagerly to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Lk 22:15). Jesus has indeed eagerly desired to eat this Passover with us, to fill us with himself. May we receive this Eucharist as fruitfully as St. Luke used to receive Jesus’ body and blood from the hands of St. Paul and the other early apostles. May we investigate everything about Jesus accurately and anew and then use all the talents we have to make known the glorious splendor of his kingdom, especially through the way we live in his kingdom and the way we give an orderly account of this good news to all those who will receive our letters, emails, phone calls, dinner invitations and door knocks. And who knows, maybe billions of people in 2,000 years will be praising God for what we’ve done in passing on to others the most glorious splendor of all.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 2 tm 4:10-17b

Demas, enamored of the present world,
deserted me and went to Thessalonica,
Crescens to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.
Luke is the only one with me.
Get Mark and bring him with you,
for he is helpful to me in the ministry.
I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus.
When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas,
the papyrus rolls, and especially the parchments.Alexander the coppersmith did me a great deal of harm;
the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.
You too be on guard against him,
for he has strongly resisted our preaching.At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf,
but everyone deserted me.
May it not be held against them!
But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.

Responsorial Psalm ps 145:10-11, 12-13, 17-18

R. (12) Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Making known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.

Gospel lk 10:1-9

The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two disciples
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter,
first say, ‘Peace to this household.’
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’”