Sunday, October 18, 2015

Look at Luke

Sermon preached at the parish of Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on St Luke’s day 2015

Science and religion are always presented to us as being in a battle to the death. Some would say that, because we’re in a scientific age, there is no place for God – Science explains Him away. It seems that you’re not allowed to believe in God and be a scientist.
Yet that is exactly who St Luke is.


Tradition has it that St Luke is a doctor, a physician charged with healing the sick. His science is not the same as our science. He does not have access to the medical knowledge that we have, yet he still makes people better. “Better” for St Luke might not mean the same as “better” means now, but clearly he does something to alleviate people’s suffering. His methods are clearly not perfect, so you can see how impressed he is when he interviews the witnesses the miracles of Jesus. We don’t know whether St Luke meets Jesus in his lifetime. We do know that St Luke is a disciple of St Paul. Perhaps it is because he hasn’t met Jesus that he decides to write his gospel as the results of his investigation into historical fact. He begins:
“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed .”
Many historical scholars regard St Luke as a reputable historian of the Greek tradition and this helps us to see Jesus healing the first Christians in clear light. For St Luke, there is no battle between Science and Religion. He uses his scientific training to serve God. His Gospel is the result. That's the beauty of St Luke's gospel, it is clear and it bears record to the many witnesses of Jesus' life with us. Without St Luke, we would not have the poetry of the Magnificat, the Nunc Dimittis or the Benedictus which are all read at Morning and Evening Prayer. He is merely reporting what people said as a good scientist or historian might.

That's where we have to be. We have to follow St Luke's example by telling what Our Lord has said and letting the beauty of God's words speak to others. Our Lord sent St Luke to be a labourer for the harvest and complains that there are too few people to take up this task. The task is simple: we need to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength and our neighbours as ourselves. We do this by listening to God and simply doing what He bids us do, simply speaking what He bids us speak, and simply loving what He bids us love.
How are we to hear God's voice to us? Let's begin by reading St Luke's Gospel!

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