The Catholic Defender: St. Luke, Doctor At Calvary
October 18 is the Feast of St. Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, St Paul identifies that St. Luke was a physician (Colossians 4:14) was a companion of St. Paul.
St. Luke was a Greek Convert whose Gospel shows special sensitivity towards the Gentiles, he became identified as one of the Four Evangelists.
St. Luke was raised in the ancient City of Antioch where he had been a slave.
St. Luke might have been trained to be a family physician for a household but was given freedom with the conversion of the family.
St. Luke was believed to be a Jewish convert before becoming a follower of Christ. It is believed that St. Luke was one of the 70 disciples sent out by Christ (Luke 10:1-12). St. Luke most likely became a follower of Christ after listening to Jesus in Galilee. He is known as a doctor at Calvary.
According to tradition, St. Luke traveled to Troas with St. Paul and then to Macedonia after St. Paul's vision (Acts 16:8-10). (Colossians 4:10-14, Philemon) St. Paul writes of those who were with him, Aristarchus, Mark, Epaphras, Demas were along with St. Luke witnessing and sharing the Catholic Faith.
In the year 61 A.D. St. Paul was in prison in Rome and Luke was the only disciple who remained with him. (2 Timothy 4:11)
St. Luke writes about how important it was that he served with St. Paul and his companions, "Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus" (Luke 1:1-3).
Because of St. Luke's foundations, coming from a Gentile background, he is seen being compassionate towards the Gentiles Jesus encountered in the Gospel of Luke. There are six miracles and eighteen parables presented by Luke not found in the other Gospels. The story of Lazarus and the Rich Man is a great example. It is Luke that gives us a unique picture of the first Christmas story, he gives us the Magnificat, the Annunciation, Presentation, and the finding of Jesus in the Temple.
St. Luke gives strong Catholic understanding on grace, Acts 6:8 states, “And Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.” Notice the similar scripture that St. Luke writes of the Virgin Mary, “full of grace (Luke 1:28).”
Reading the English it is very confusing but when you look at the Greek, this becomes very interesting.
The Greek Text for Luke 1:28,“Kai eiselthon pros auten eipen, “Caire, kecharitomene!, ho Kurios meta sou.”
Here is the Greek Text for Acts 6:8, “Stephanos de plērēs charitos kai dynameōs epoiei terata kai sēmeia megala en tō laō.”
Can you see the difference and similarity here? Interestingly, both the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts were written by St. Luke. Notice in Luke 1:28, the title Caire, kecharitomene is used, in Acts 6:8, the title plērēs charitos is used.
The English word “grace” comes from the Greek word, charis and we can determine that both text use the word charis or grace in it, but does the meaning amount to being the same? No, it does not. Notice that the word used in Acts 6:8 referring to Stephen is a different word from the one referring to Mary. That is clear. Acts 6:8 describes Stephen “pleres charitos” which literally means “filled up with grace”.
The Catholic view here is that St. Luke was meaning St. Stephen, at that moment, he was full of grace. From Catholic teaching, a true martyr would go straight to heaven. They bypass Purgatory and would be understood from this text, that at that moment, St. Stephen was full of grace at that moment in time.
In the same way, lets look again at Luke 1:28, the title given to Mary from the angel Gabriel is “Kecharitomene”, a perfect passive participle of “charitoo”.
Remember that Charis means grace, charitoo is a verb that comes from the Greek root of “charis” - which means “grace”.
So, from this text, charitoó means to fill or endow with grace or in other words: “Hail, one who has always been full of grace“. Where Stephen is being defined as full of grace at that moment, Mary is being defined as being full of grace from the beginning of her existence.
So, ”kecharitomene” by definition is the perfected passive participle meaning “to fill with grace”. That the Virgin Mary received this singular grace by God for the purpose of bringing Jesus into the world. Mary is more than being full of grace for a period of time, but for all time. Her yes opened the door not only for St. Stephen, but for all “those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.” Revelation 12:17
This is the Immaculate Conception, and St. Luke clearly writes this to his followers expecting that they understand what he is saying. Without having the 2,000 year history and teaching of the Catholic Faith, St. Luke’s text would be taken out of context, much like those who have challenged me. Recently one friend who challenged me on this subject was graced to become Catholic.
Each conversion is a true miracle of God!
You do not have to be a Greek scholar to be able to see this, but thankfully, the Catholic Faith has presented this Christmas story now for nearly 2,000 years and it’s application has endured the passage of time.
St. Paul tells us to hang on to the traditions which were first taught to us by mouth or by letter (2 Thessalonians 2:15) and this includes the whole teaching of Christ (Matthew 28:20).
Usually, when someone comes knocking on your door making such arguments against the Virgin Mary, they have an agenda seeking to undermine the Catholic Faith.
As Catholics, it is important that we trust the Lord with all out hearts and trust those whom He has sent. Again, another Scriptural Text from St. Luke drives this point home, “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” Luke 10:16
One more point I like to make here because we are talking about grace, consider Ephesians 1:5-6 which states, “He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
St. Paul uses the Greek word, “echaritosen,” and notice again the word Charis or ”charitoo” giving an important meaning here. Here, God “graced” us or He “bestowed grace” on us representing a certain time as a result of an action.
After the martyrdom of St.s Peter and Paul, St. Luke would also be captured by the Romans and brought before the Emperor Nero. The Pagans were jealous of the success of St. Luke working among the people. He was being accused of sorcery by the Pagans and before his capture, he gave his writings to a fisherman telling him, "Take these and keep them for they will be useful to you and will show you God's way."
Nero challenged St. Luke, "How long will you lead the people astray?"
Luke replied, "I am not a magician, but I am an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God."
The Emperor commanded his men to cut off his right hand saying, "Cut off this hand which wrote the books."
The saint replied to him, "We do not fear death, nor the departure from this world, and to realize the power of my Master."
He took up his severed hand and made it reattach to its proper place, then he separated it. Those who were present marveled and the head of the Emperor's cabinet and his wife became believers as well as many others and it was said that they numbered 276 conversions. The Emperor wrote their decree and ordered that their heads be cut off together with that of the Apostle St. Luke; thus their martyrdom was completed.
They placed the body of St. Luke in a hair sack and cast it in the sea. By God's will, the waves of the sea brought it to an island. A Catholic believer found it, took it and buried it with great honor.
It was Luke 5:4 that I took the name "Deepertruth" when Jesus invited St. Peter to take his boat out into the deep to catch fish. We take our boat, the bark of Peter, out into the deep to go deep sea fishing for our rich Catholic truths.
Saint Luke is often accompanied by an ox or bull, usually having wings. Sometimes only the symbol is shown, especially when in a combination of those of all Four Evangelists. Luke is the patron of physicians and surgeons.