The Gospel of Saint Luke, whose feast we celebrate today, is a certainly a beautiful and captivating one. It presents the Lord as compassionate and reveals some of the tender mercy of His Heart. It also contains much that is not found in the other three Gospels, such as the account of the Annunciation of Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin, the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth and the sublimely beautiful Magnificat.

At the very beginning of his Gospel, Luke speaks of “the events that have taken place amongst us, exactly as these were handed down to us by those who from the outset were eyewitnesses” (Lk.1:1-2). He goes on to add this – “I, in my turn, after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write an ordered account for you” (Lk.1:3).

A 3rd century Greek papyrus of the Gospel of Luke

Which eyewitnesses is he referring to, who were there from the outset? Who does he mean?

Scholars speak of ‘the L-Source’, an oral tradition which Luke is believed to have used in the writing of his Gospel. I can’t help but wonder – and I know I am not alone – if this ‘source’ was, at least in part, none other than the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of the Lord. Who else could have related the details of the passages noted above? Perhaps Luke himself gives us a clue in this line of Scripture –

“His Mother kept all these things and treasured them in Her Heart” (Lk.2:51)

I can imagine Luke asking the Mother of the Lord to tell him all the events relating to the birth and life of Her Son. Not surprisingly, She features more prominently in this Gospel than in any of the others. It is an ancient legend, also, that Luke painted the fist icon of the Blessed Virgin, which is represented in the image at the top of this page.

Perhaps it was from Mary that Luke learned of this gentle and compassionate Lord; from Her words, that in his, the particular emphasis in the way he presents Jesus in his Gospel is as ‘merciful’. There are echoes of this at the start, in Mary’s ‘Magnificat’, singing of the God Who is ‘mindful of His mercy’. Even the Parables Luke presents show Christ in this merciful light. Not surprisingly, then, the Gospel of St Luke is often referred to as ‘the Gospel of Mercy’.

In the same way that Luke tells us how Mary ‘kept all these things and treasured them in Her Heart’, may we, too, read this Gospel, take it to our own hearts, and treasure it there as we ponder slowly and deliberately upon it. And in so doing, may we – like Mary – sing of the great mercies of the Lord.