There are so many things that could be said about St. Luke. He was a loyal companion and fellow worker with St. Paul to the end of his life. Between his Gospel and the Book of Acts, he contributed more to the New Testament than any other writer. He was an educated man, possibly a doctor and an artist, and he was a dedicated evangelist who travelled hundreds of miles to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. There are so many good things to say about Luke, but as we approach the end of this Year of Mercy, let’s focus on just one of his most endearing, and least mentioned characteristics: his love for God’s complete and unconditional mercy.
Luke’s parables and stories, especially the ones that don’t appear in other Gospels, paint vivid portraits of God’s patience with sinners. Some of them startle us as we see God reaching out to marginalized people and welcoming them into his kingdom.
The parable of the Good Samaritan shows us an enemy of the Jews demonstrating mercy. Our Lord heals Ten Lepers, but it’s the Samaritan who returns to thank Jesus. St. Luke teaches us that God isn’t concerned with labels; he just loves to see an open heart.
The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector presents another surprise: someone as despicable as a tax collector can be justified. And then there’s Zacchaeus, the repentant tax collector, who is invited to eat dinner with Our Lord.
The parable of the Prodigal Son provokes us with God’s forgiveness of even those considered to be unworthy. And a sinful woman anoints Our Lord’s feet with her repentant tears, while a Pharisee looks on in judgment and disbelief.
Clearly, God is eager to extend his mercy to anyone. St. Luke wanted to get this point across to every person he reached. He teaches us that there is no sin God won’t forgive. May that assurance help us all when it comes time to showing compassion and mercy to the people around us.