Today is the feast of St. Luke, known to be the writer not only of the third Gospel but also of the Acts of the Apostles, the story of the early days and spread of Christianity. There is a line in the commentary from Franciscan Media that caused me to pause and think about this man whose version of the “Good News” has been variously subtitled the gospel: of mercy, of universal salvation, of the poor, of absolute renunciation, of prayer and the Holy Spirit, and of joy. The commentary said that as a companion to Paul, Luke traveled to many places and consequently had time to seek information and interview persons who had known Jesus.
I have an image of Luke walking around Philippi, Jerusalem or Caesarea listening intently for the name of Jesus and when he heard it – maybe in a tavern or outside the synagogue or even on the street – walking up to people, getting right up close and urgently questioning them for what Jesus was like, what he talked about, how they came to know him…asking anything that would feed his hunger for the spark that led that speaker to follow Jesus, so that he might really come to know him as well.
It’s a bit like people in our day, even us perhaps. Even if we were “born into” a Christian community it isn’t enough to just count on documents that give us information about what it means to be Christian (or whatever faith tradition we are raised in). We need to seek out people and experiences that lead us to the deeper streams of our faith, the mysteries that can’t be explained or taught but rather caught in order to ignite a longing for more, a determination to understand “by heart” what has been told to us, so that the words we read and hear will sing and ring with a truth that sustains us. Who are those people for you? What experiences have fed you in the past? Can you find something new or rewarding to enliven faith?
In wisdom schools we sometimes sing a chant that is based on the gospel parable of The Pearl of Great Price. The words have been floating through my consciousness as I write these thoughts today. Those words are: To find the pearl beyond compare, Oh, dig right here, within your soul. Perhaps a silent trip to our inner self is just what we need today to get a glimpse of that precious pearl.