THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
The Feast of St. Luke
18 October 2015
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St. Luke was not an apostle, but worked closely with St. Paul, and he is the author of third Gospel as well as the Acts of the Apostles. It is in St. Luke's Gospel that we learn what we know of the childhood of Jesus. It is also through St. Luke that we see the mercy of God and the compassion of Jesus Christ for fallen mankind. For example: he has recorded the parables of the Lost Sheep and the Prodigal Son for us. Dante has called St. Luke the historian of Christ's mercies for us.
Since St. Luke was not one of the twelve apostles, the Gospel for today is that of Christ sending forth the seventy-two disciples. This sending forth of the disciples, is the passage that St. Francis of Assisi received as a personal directive from God, and because of this it is incorporated into the very rule of the Friars Minor.
The simplicity, poverty, and humility of St. Francis and his Order was originally looked upon as to be too severe, until it was pointed out that the rule that St. Francis desired to live and have approved was the rule that Jesus gave to the seventy-two disciples. What God asks of us should never be considered too hard or too extreme. On the contrary we should rather consider that we are too stingy, selfish, or spiritually-little.
Our Lord set no limits to His Sacrifices for us. St. Luke's Gospel makes this very clear to us. What He asks from His disciples is not too much. In the same manner, what God asks of each of us, is never too much or too hard. We see in the Gospels the limitless love of God for us; and we hear His command to love Him with all our being and without reserve. He has given His all for us; we must reciprocate by giving our all to Him.
We must see Him as the Good Shepherd Who runs after us when we are lost or are going astray. We similarly see Him as the loving Father always ready to forgive His prodigal children. How we respond to the mercies of God determines our happiness or misery for all of eternity. As His sheep, we must learn to recognize His voice, to hear Him and obey Him. And when we have gone astray, we must be able to hear Him and allow Him to come to us and take us upon His shoulders and return us to the sheepfold. When we are the rebellious and sinful son, we must reflect upon the goodness of our Father and return to Him in the greatest of humility. The proud do not return or do not return well and ultimately will be rejected by Him as we see in the Pharisees.
St. Luke shows us that when we give ourselves without reserve to God, we have nothing to fear. God is not outdone in generosity. The more perfect the giving of our very selves to Him, the greater His graces become within us. It is, however, not we who give first to God; but, rather, God Who has first given to us. St. Augustine argues against the Donatists with the prayer: "Lord, give me what You will ask of me, then ask of me whatever You will." God will never demand or ask from us something that He has not first given to us.
Jesus has asked us to learn of Him because He is meek and humble of heart. We must conclude that meekness and humility are possible for every one of us. Perhaps, we do not all have these virtues in the same manner or in the same degree, but we are all called to practice these virtues. The practice of these virtues cannot be impossible, because He has already given them to us, even before He has asked them from us. If we are not virtuous, we cannot blame God for this, because He has given us the grace and opportunity to be virtuous. The blame for our lack of virtue and all our failures, lies in our not cooperating with the graces that we have already been given.
God has not asked us all to go forth as the seventy-two Disciples, but He has asked us all to be meek and humble of heart. He has asked us all to conform our lives to His in whatever station in life we find ourselves. Not all of us need to go forth in perfect poverty and simplicity (without shoes, staff, or money); but He has called everyone to spiritual poverty and simplicity. St. Paul tells us that we should use the things of this earth as if we used them not. We are all commanded to maintain a right order in esteeming God and the things of our souls above our bodies and the things of this earth. The voluntary renunciation of the good things of this earth and our bodies does not mean that these things are evil. On the contrary, the offering of the sacrifice of these things implies that they are great goods and therefore worthy offerings to make to God. All that God has made and given to us is good. So even the smallest sacrifice is something good. It would not be a true sacrifice if we offer something that is not good or is unwanted. Such an offering would rather be offensive.
May we heed the instructions that St. Luke has recorded for us from the Words of God. God is merciful. He never demands more of us than we can give. He is always watchful over us, seeking to restore us to His Fold as soon as we stray. He is always eager to forgive us and restore to us an honorable place in His Household. Let, never forget to return to Him with the utmost of true humility as the Prodigal Son did. We can do this because He gives the very help that is needed, when we need it. If He inspires us with the desire, He will give whatever is necessary for us to fulfill that desire. May we return to Him from the bottom of our hearts in all meekness and humility, He is eager to receive us and even to put in our hands the very offerings that He will require of us. We nee only receive them well and recognize, humbly that they are not ours but His very gifts that we offer to Him.
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