Thursday, 18 October 2018 : Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together the feast day of one of the four writers of the Holy Gospels, or also known as the Evangelists. St. Luke was a renowned physician and a disciple who followed St. Paul during part of his journeys and missions throughout the Eastern Mediterranean area. He was also the one who was regarded as the writer of the Acts of the Apostles, documenting the works of the Apostles in the evangelising of the Gentiles, especially that of St. Paul the Apostle.

In the first reading today, we are presented with the reality of such a dedication to the Lord as an Apostle, or as an Evangelist like St. Luke. St. Paul wrote to one of his fellow elders of the Church, his protege, St. Timothy, about how he was troubled and in difficult times, having been abandoned even by those who had been with him during his missionary journeys. Those have abandoned him for various reasons, and only St. Luke remained with him.

In order to appreciate the full nature of the challenges and the difficulties that St. Paul faced at that time, we must understand the historical background of what happened during the time when St. Paul wrote to St. Timothy. St. Paul had to endure many difficult moments, in various places, when the people refused to listen to him and his fellow disciples. The Jews and the Gentiles alike in those various places chased them out, and even stoned them in one occasion, leaving St. Paul and St. Barnabas, another of St. Paul’s fellow missionary, almost dead.

At that time, the Jewish authorities, consisting of the Jewish High Priest, the priests and the Pharisees, were against the Christian faith and the works of the disciples. The Jews in the various places across the diaspora were also influenced to a certain extent by the Jewish authorities, and some among these stirred trouble among the disciples and opposed the work of the Christian elders.

And they also incited trouble for the Christians with the Roman authorities, by spreading lies and untruths about them to the authorities. As a result, the Romans also made it difficult for the Apostles to work in their various places. Meanwhile, among the Gentiles, while the disciples managed to gain many followings, but there were also many of those who refused to believe in them and misunderstood their teachings, causing more difficulties for the Christians.

This was already mentioned clearly by the Lord Himself before His disciples, as mentioned in our Gospel passage today. As He sent them out before Him to prepare His way, He has already mentioned how there would be rejections and difficulties, and He told them of what to expect and what to do in those cases when the people they were sent to, refused to believe in the message of the Lord.

And He reminded them that while there were probably many of those who refused to see the truth in God’s ways, but there were also many of those who were willing and wanting to listen to the truth. This is the rich harvest that the Lord mentioned to His disciples, waiting for labourers and workers to collect them all. Otherwise, as all the farmers then should know, without sufficient number of labourers and harvesters, the harvest crops will rot and be destroyed.

Therefore, without the work of the labourers of the Lord, then the rich harvests of the Lord, all of His people who are desiring and wishing to know of Him would not be able to hear of the Lord’s truth, and therefore, be lost to the Lord. The Apostles and the disciples of the Lord had done their part, in their ceaseless works and labours amongst the people of God, Jews and Gentiles alike amidst the difficult times and persecutions that they had to face.

St. Luke also contributed in his own way, by the power of his pen, inspired by the Holy Spirit, speaking the truth to the people of God, through the Gospel he wrote, which contained the essence of God’s truth, in the life of the Lord, His teachings, His many works, and all that He has revealed to the world, to all of us. Together, the Apostles, the Evangelists and the disciples of the Lord have shown us all what being a true labourer of the world entails.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us as Christians are called to follow in the footsteps of these faithful and courageous servants of the Lord, that we, through our own actions and interactions with those whom we encounter in our daily lives, be the same bearers of God’s truth. There are many ways in which this can be done, and we can begin from as simple as within our families and within our immediate communities.

What we need to do is for us to take concrete steps in living our lives with faith, that we truly embody that faith we believe in, and others who see us will come to believe in the same truth and faith which we possess. And we also need to realise the reality of suffering, rejection and even persecution at times when we stand up for our faith and really practicing what we believe in our lives. But we must trust in the Lord and remember that He will always be with us, regardless of all the things we encounter.

May the Lord help us all, to be able to devote ourselves and to serve Him just as St. Luke the Evangelist has given his effort to spread the Good News and the truth which God has revealed to him through the Holy Spirit. Let us pray that God will send us His Holy Spirit as well, that we will grow ever more courageous in our respective lives, to live in accordance with our faith. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

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