23rd January, 2022

 

St. Luke's Gospel

Today we are listening to and meditating on the very beginning of the Gospel according to Saint Luke, which – as we have just heard – was written for Theophilus. As Saint Luke wrote at the very beginning: I have decided to write it for you Theophilus, so that your Excellency may learn how well founded the teaching is that you have received. Maybe these words seem a bit complicated and difficult to us. Perhaps some of us wonder why this particular person – Theophilus – was mentioned at the very beginning, why he was so important to Saint Luke, since he called him ‘your Excellency’ and, moreover, since he wrote this Gospel especially for him, describing for him in such a beautiful way, so many details of the whole story of Jesus. I must admit that I personally do not know the answer to this question, but it seems to me that in a sense, each of us can be Theophilus because this Gospel was actually written for each one of us. But also, if we translate this name ‘Theophilus’ into English, it means – more or less – ‘a friend of God’, or someone who is loved by God, or someone who loves God. That is the meaning of the name Theophilus, which is perhaps a very rare name in the times we live in, but it is one of the most beautiful names I have ever heard. I like my name Gregory very much, which was given to me by my parents almost 40 years ago.  It means vigilant and zealous. But I also like the name Theophilus – which has a very deep meaning – a friend of God. And if we read and consider this particular story of Jesus written by Saint Luke in this way – as something written for friends of God, or for those who are loved by God – then we can understand and say with certainty, that this Gospel was written for all of us. Indeed, Saint Luke wrote the story of Our Lord, for each of us, to deepen our knowledge, our faith and also our friendship with Jesus, who is beautifully presented by him, as a true man and also as the promised Messiah and the only Saviour.

What more can we say about this particular Word of God, that was given to us by Saint Luke? If we listen to this Gospel, we will see, that in fact it is a great and wonderful story, telling us mainly about God’s Mercy towards every human being. It is Saint Luke the Evangelist – as the only one of the four evangelists, who described not only the adult life, but also the childhood of Jesus, and he did it in the most beautiful, very detailed and precise way. Moreover, it is Saint Luke who remembered and wrote down for all future generations, so many parables that Jesus used to tell His disciples and other listeners, who followed Him: the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost drachma and many other stories and parables. Moreover, it is Saint Luke, who – as the only evangelist – described the parable of the prodigal son, in order to show us how great, wonderful and infinite, God’s mercy and forgiveness are. It is thanks to him that we can listen to and meditate on the Gospel passage about the crucifixion, and more specifically about the criminal who was crucified on the right side of Jesus on Calvary, to whom Jesus promised paradise, saying: Indeed, I promise you, today you will be with me in paradise.

The Gospel according to Saint Luke was written for each one of us. First of all, to show us how great is God’s Mercy and His forgiveness, but also to remind us all that the most important mission of Jesus is not to condemn anyone, but – as we have heard today – to bring light to those in darkness, …to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set downtrodden free. Saint Luke wrote his Gospel just to remind us all of this wonderful truth, that God is not indifferent and distant, but He cares for the poor, He saves the lost and needy. Today we can say, that thanks to Saint Luke and thanks to the Gospel he gave us, we can become more and more like Theophilus. Yes, each of us can become Theophilus – that is – a true friend of God, who gets to know Him more and more, who experiences His love and grace every day, and who enthusiastically shares this love and mercy with others.

And finally, I would like to tell you, that if we accept this Gospel as a precious and extremely valuable gift, if we read and meditate on it – then – as we have heard in today’s responsorial psalm – this Word of God will become for us spirit and life. Let us open our hearts and minds, and let us believe all the words given to us by Saint Luke, so that we may experience the fullness of God’s life, so that God’s Spirit may dwell in us. Let each of us become, in a sense, Theophilus – that is – a friend of God, who loves Him and who is loved by Him, with an even greater and everlasting love.

Fr Gregory