the Fifth Week of Lent
Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary Haydock's Catholic Commentary
by George Leo Haydock
HOLY GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST,
ACCORDING TO ST. LUKE.
St. Luke was a physician, a native of Antioch, the metropolis of Syria, and well skilled in the Greek language, as his writings sufficiently evince. In some ancient manuscripts, he is called Lucius, and Lucanus. Some conjecture that he was at first a Gentile and a pagan, and was converted by the preaching of St. Paul, at Antioch; others, that he was originally a Jew, and one of the seventy-two disciples. Sts. Hippolitus and Epiphanius say, that hearing from our Lord these words, he that eateth not my flesh, and drinketh not my blood, is not worthy of me, he withdrew, and quitted our Saviour, but returned to the faith at the preaching of St. Paul. But to leave what is uncertain, St. Luke was the disciple, travelling companion, and fellow-labourer of St. Paul. Of him St. Paul is supposed to speak: (2 Corinthians viii. 18.) We have sent also with him (Titus) the brother, whose praise is in the gospel, through all churches: and again, Luke, the most dear physician, saluteth you: (Colossians iv.) and, only Luke is with me. (2 Timothy iv.) Some are of opinion that as often as St. Paul, in his Epistles, says according to my gospel, he speaks of the Gospel of St. Luke. This evangelist did not learn his gospel from St. Paul only, (who had never been with our Lord in the flesh) but from the other apostles also, as himself informs us in the beginning of his gospel, when he says, according as they have delivered them unto us; who, from the beginning, were eye-witnesses, (Greek: autoptai) and ministers of the word. His gospel, therefore, he wrote as he heard it; but the Acts of the Apostles, from his own observations; and both, as some believe, about the same time in which his history of the Acts finishes, towards the year of Christ 63. But the received opinion now is, that St. Luke wrote his gospel in Achaia, in the year 53, ten years previously to his writing of the Acts, purposely to counteract the fabulous relations concerning Jesus Christ, which several persons had endeavoured to palm upon the world. It does not appear, as Calmet observes, that he had ever read the gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark. ... He chiefly insists in his gospel, upon what relates to Christ’s priestly office; hence the ancients gave, of the four symbolical representations, mentioned in Ezechiel, that of the ox, or calf, to St. Luke, as an emblem of sacrifices. He lived 84 years in the state of celibacy, was crucified at Elœa, in Peloponnesus, near Achaia, and was buried in the church of the apostles, at Constantinople, to which city his remains were translated, together with those of St. Andrew and St. Timothy, in the year 357, by order of the emperor Constantius. When this church was repaired, by an order of Justinian, the masons found three wooden chests, in which the bodies of these saints were interred. Baronius mentions, that the head of St. Luke was brought by St. Gregory from Constantinople to Rome, in the year of Christ 586. St. Luke writes purer Greek than any of the other hagiographers; yet many Syriac words, and turns of expressions, occur in both his gospel and Acts of the Apostles; some also that imitate the genius of the Latin tongue. He cites Scripture according to the Septuagint, and not after the Hebrew text. St. Paul, in his Epistles, generally quotes the gospel in a manner the most conformable to St. Luke, as may be seen in the following instances; 1 Corinthians xi. 23. and 24. chap. xv. 5. The Marcionites would only receive the gospel of St. Luke, and from this they retrenched the first two chapters, with regard the birth of Jesus Christ, and only admitted ten of St. Paul’s Epistles, as Tertullian and St. Epiphanius have remarked. Marcion embraced the errors of Cerdon: to these he added others, the offspring of his own brain. He began to disseminate his novel opinions at Rome, about the year of Christ 144. He could not bring himself to believe how a spirit, such as the human soul, could be shut up in a body, be subject to ignorance, to weakness, to pain; nor in what manner, or for what end, the great and good Lord, the Creator of spirits, could have thus degraded them. Revelation, which teaches us the fall of the first man, did not appear to the Marcionites, to solve the difficulty, since the first man was composed of a spiritual soul and a terrestrial body; they, moreover, imagined that an all-good, an all-powerful God, ought to have prevented the fall of man. No wonder then, that they refused to adopt the first two chapters of St. Luke, which contain the miraculous births of Jesus and his precursor [John the Baptist]; as also sundry texts of the very scanty portions of holy Scriptures which their party chose to retain. But what does this shew? that tradition, in the first instance, must be admitted, to inform us what is authentic scripture; and, secondly, an infallible Church-authority, to inform us what is the genuine interpretation of the genuine text. Without the assistance of apostolical tradition and Church-authority, could any Seeker (even with the assistance of Brown’s Self-interpreting Bible, in 2 vols. 4to.) rest secure, that he properly understood the disputed points of holy writ; that his, and no other interpretation, was the genuine sense of these mysterious words, when he was informed that by far the greater part of learned societies, and learned individuals, gave a widely different interpretation to the same texts. This freedom of expounding Scripture, by unassisted reason and private spirit, was the first germ of the daily increasing spread of sects and heresies; this is the nucleus, which, after enveloping itself like the comet, in much nebulous obscurity, terminates in a fiery tail, of portentous magnitude, the ruinous effects of which can only be prevented by a speedy return to first principles, apostolical tradition, and Church-authority.