18 Oct 2016
Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist
Saint Luke presents Jesus to us as one who is concerned for the poor and the needy. And that is certainly true of Jesus. But the Lord’s care and concern falls under the much larger umbrella of justice; the idea of giving to others (and ourselves) what is their due. In other words, Jesus is concerned with giving others what they deserve.
He says, “The laborer deserves payment.” And in Paul’s letter to Timothy, we hear that “the Lord will repay [one] according to his deeds.” Paul even writes he that hopes his deserters will be treated mercifully by the Lord. Saint Luke is really carrying on a teaching that he received from Saint Paul; the idea that the Lord is concerned with justice, with giving others what is due to them.
And so, Luke is very strong in his support of women, orphans, children, widows, the sick and the lame, the needy and the poor. But what he supports is justice with regard to them. In other words, we’re to help those who are unable to help themselves. That is their “due” as children of God, and as brothers and sisters in Christ. Of course, society has changed a bit since Luke’s time. But the call is still the same: Help those who need it.
And, in return, God will “repay us according to our deeds,” because that’s a matter of divine justice. Of course, we have to be careful there. We don’t “work” our way into heaven by doing good to others. The most important “work” or “deed” we do is to remember that we ourselves are the poor, and that we absolutely need God. Our most important “work” is the work of faith—the work of simply being faithful to whatever God has in mind.
And that’s hard work—being faithful. But, in his justice, God gives us a “just payment” for our work; and the payment is himself. And even that is justice, because it’s God’s nature to give. What more just thing can there be than for God to give himself . . . to those who are faithful to him; to those who are poor in spirit, and totally dependent upon him.