Saturday, February 02, 2019

Who's behind all this?

Authorship is a responsibility that is complete and personal.  When you author a work, it’s more than just writing it, or editing it, or collecting it; words like create (as does God) and generate (as do parents) come into play.  That’s a lot of responsibility!
Last week I mentioned how much I was enjoying the small but powerful output of a single author of short stories.  His personality and preferences shaped everything he produced.  Even though he died before I heard of him, I am confident that in some way I know him - through his authorship.
The liturgical year began with Advent, but this past Sunday we settled in to the course of Scripture readings that move chronologically through the Gospel of Luke.  This evangelist will walk us through the rest of the year, until next Advent.  
Since he is the author, and his work decidedly is not fiction, it could only be fruitful to know something about him.  Luke is not one of the Apostles, and was not a Jew but a Gentile, and a doctor by profession.  
Luke makes it clear in his opening lines that he himself is not an eyewitness to the life of Christ he will recount in his Gospel, but he sets himself to write it down in an orderly sequence after investigating everything accurately anew. (Lk 1:2)  It is likely the Gospel was written just under thirty years after the death and resurrection of Jesus.
He was an early convert to the Way, and accompanied Saint Paul for much of his missionary travel, as he himself recounts in his other book, the Acts of the Apostles; for more information, look at Acts chapters 16, 20, 24, and 27-28.  Paul himself refers to him in his Letter to the Colossians:  Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you. (Col 4:14)
Because his Gospel is the only one that contains the infancy narrative of the Lord, Luke is often associated with His Blessed Mother, to whom that insight and information would only logically be attributed.   By the sixth century, the story had taken hold that Luke was an artist – a painter who rendered the original portrait or icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  
The idea that he is an artist is fortified by his writing. Clearly he was an educated man, whose prose is developed and literary in ways that the earlier Gospels were not.  Moreover, he shows an ability and a delight in describing characters in an evocative and almost painterly manner that brings them to life before our eyes.
As we move through his work, it might be fruitful to bear in mind and look for two of the subjects that he renders with emphasis and clarity:  women, and prayer.  Christ’s treatment of both was revolutionary then, and now has come to be taken for granted. Also, watch for the theme of movement – from Nazareth (the Nativity) to Jerusalem (the Passion).  
We know relatively little in a way that we would consider biographical or historical, then, about Saint Luke.  It is worth reminding ourselves of all of it as we read or hear his work, because what he is offering us is friendship.  He is not only familiar, but a friend and even an intimate, because of his authorship.  He wants us to share what he has found and deeply treasures, which is friendship and even intimacy with the Lord Jesus.  With great authorship comes great responsibility.
Monsignor Smith