Feast of Saint Luke, evangelist
(II Timothy 4:10-17b; Luke 10:1-9)
It may have been coincidence, but Pope Francis could not have chosen a more appropriate year for the “Year of Mercy.” Almost every Sunday for the last eleven months the Church has reflected on the Gospel according to Luke which highlights mercy. The parables of the Good Samaritan and the Merciful Father (the Prodigal Son), the accounts of Jesus healing the ten lepers and forgiving his executioners, and many other passages manifest the gracious love of God. Even today’s passage on this Feast of St. Luke hints of mercy.
The message of the disciples as they preach the good news is not just “the Kingdom of God is at hand” as in Matthew’s gospel, but it is here “for you.” In Luke mercy is not theoretical but becomes personal and palpable. This can be exquisitely seen in Luke’s treatment of the passion of Jesus. When Judas comes to kiss him in betrayal, Jesus calls him by name to stop him from doing such an odious deed. When Peter is denying him, Jesus is looking on to remind Peter that he will pray for him so that he does not lose hope. And on the cross Jesus offers the prayer of supreme mercy, “’Father, forgive them…’”
Pope Francis’ intention in calling the year of mercy is not only that we count on God’s mercy but that we likewise show mercy. We best do this by incorporating mercy in our schedules perhaps by a weekly visit to a nursing home or a monthly commitment to a night shelter. In showing mercy to others we open ourselves to God’s mercy.