Advent is the beginning of the Christian year and the church starts its study of a new gospel, that of Luke.
Luke the Evangelist is one of the four evangelists. He was a native of the Hellenistic city of Antioch in Syria and author of both his own gospel and the book of the Acts of the Apostles. Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae refers to him as a doctor; thus he is thought to have been both a physician and a disciple of Paul. The Roman Catholic Church and other major denominations venerate him as Saint Luke the Evangelist and as a patron saint of artists, physicians and surgeons – his feast day is the 18th October.
It is easy to see why Luke is regarded as the patron saint of artists for in his gospels he paints unique and beautiful stories about God and Christ – only in his gospel are to be found the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son, the rich man and Lazarus and the calling of Zacchaeus.
Luke has special compassion for the plight of the poor, the outcast and women. A title that is entirely distinctive to the gospel of Luke, and at the same time, perhaps, best sums up the themes of his focus on Jesus’ compassion for outcasts and his humanity, is Saviour.
Luke gives us in the opening chapters of his gospel beautiful word pictures of the birth of Jesus and the songs of deep joy namely the Magnificat (the Song of Mary), the Nunc Dimittis (the Song of Simeon) and the Magnificat (the song of Mary), all songs are unique to Luke. It is these nativity stories that have influenced painters throughout the centuries.
Almighty God, you called Luke the physician, whose praise is in the gospel, to be an evangelist and physician of the soul: by the grace of the Spirit and through the wholesome medicine of the gospel, give your Church the same love and power to heal; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Collect for St Luke’s Day