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President's Reflection

Liturgy for Sunday 18 October 2020

St. Luke's Day

Let us pray

Almighty God,

to whom all hearts are open,

all desires known,

and from whom no secrets are hidden:

cleanse the thoughts of our hearts

by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,

that we may perfectly love you,

and worthily magnify your holy name;

through Christ our Lord. Amen


The Reflection on St. Luke’s day

What do we know about Luke?

What do we know definitely about anyone who lived a long time ago? We do our best, taking account of what records we have …

Thinking about this, I remember when my brother and I were cleaning up some records after our dear mother died. There were treasured but unnamed photos of relatives, back a couple of generations. We did not know who they were and, alas, we had never asked. Those photos and that experience stayed with me. It and similar experiences taught me two things.

First, we do what we do as best we can. People make of it what they make of it .One cannot control this. So, after doing one’s best with communication, thereafter one should accept people will make of our endeavours whatever they will make of them. If they remember!

Sometimes people notice. Sometimes they do not seem to notice. Sometimes the response seems excessive- either as praise or criticism. Such is adult life even in our own generation, let alone when photos may be found of us, even generations later!

Time goes by. “Our days are like the grass. We flourish like a flower of the field; when the wind goes over it, it is gone and its place will know it no more. But your loving kindness, O Lord, endures forever..” (APBA p.731)

Thanks be to God..

Yes, our God remembers, in loving kindness. Including those smiling relatives of ours in faded photos. Perhaps in the place we call heaven, that place of union and reunion, we will also be brought into the picture! We shall know as we are known.

Second, I learned something from Alexander the Great! It is an old story from BC, so you may have heard it.

When Alexander the Great knew he was dying, he gave several instructions. He insisted that his finest doctors should carry his casket. This was to convey that, even if you can afford the very best of contemporary medical care, sooner or later….

Also, Alexander wanted all his worldly wealth strewn across the path to the cemetery. He wanted his arms placed outside the casket. In sum, he wanted to convey that you cannot take much with you when you die! We come into this world empty handed and that is how we will leave.

They say that this story therefore influenced 1 Timothy 6:7- a stark sentence heard at many funerals. Hence, to keep things in perspective, some religious orders encourage members to go outside, following their morning prayers, in order to take one more shovel of dirt from what will be their future grave.

Most of us do not need to go to this length. We have plenty of other experiences that teach us to treasure each day as a gift and not to take too much for granted. In recent months, some of you have shared the stories that shaped your gratitude for each new day. One of my strongest spiritual experiences was not in Church or in some moment of mystical wonder.

It was when a youngster (who we later learned had been working very hard), fell asleep as he drove towards my car on the Pacific Highway, north of Nambucca Heads. This car suddenly crossed the road while I was listening to the football on the ABC. We both survived the head- on crash. Few do on that road. We may not have, if his car had been bigger. Each day thereafter has been appreciated more as the gift it is.

Anyway, this is a rather serious, rambling, roundabout way of saying that we do not know much about St Luke, this side of eternity! Is he the Luke associated with Paul; the physician who is mentioned in Col. 4:14?

That is the implicit assumption in our lectionary readings from Jeremiah and 2 Timothy.

Luke, “the Beloved Physician”.



St Luke Drawing a the Virgin, by Rogier van der Weyden  - c. 1435-40, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

There is also a lovely story suggesting Luke is the unnamed companion of Cleopas to whom the Risen Jesus appeared on the road to Emmaus ( Luke 24) and was known in “the breaking of the bread”.( Luke 24:35)

Likewise, there are stories about Luke as a painter. One of his portraits being of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The early chapters of Luke’s Gospel tell us wonderful stories about the births of Jesus and John the Baptist, the angels and their announcements. These stories seem to come from one who had listened carefully to Mary, perhaps while painting her portrait.

Then too there are the Canticles that Luke gives us. The Magnificat (Luke 1.47-55); the Benedictus (Luke 1.68-79) and the Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2.29-32).

“It has been suggested that the first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel are a bit like a musical with the action and dialogue constantly being interrupted by characters bursting into song” .( Stuart Moran: “A Friendly Guide to Luke’s Gospel”.)

So today, as we give thanks for St Luke, we have some prayerful links to the ongoing artistry and ministry of both the painter and the devotional musician. Our spiritual artists are wonderful. They bring us wonder.

As Gregory of Nyssa would say and as we can say, each new day dawning:

“Only wonder comprehends”.

With prayers in the Beloved, with Mary and all the Saints, including Luke

Bishop Philip.

NCCA President 


Listening refelction:

“Magnificat”- Douay, Latin, English, sung by the Daughters of Mary https://youtu.be/SyXafdQogEo   

“Benedictus” (by Karl Jenkins) https://youtu.be/f_RjlIPuqyc  


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