AMONG. those mysteries of Christ’s Incarnation which the Prophet Esaias expressly and plainly foretels, he says, I will clothe the heavens with blackness, and make sackcloth their covering. The Lord hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how by my word to uphold the weary. He wakeneth me at morn. At morn He wakeneth my ear to hearken unto Him as my Master. (Is. 50:3, 4.)
From these words we may understand the subject-matter of St. Luke’s Gospel, the method of his writing, the object and condition of the writer.
AUGUSTINE. (de Consen. Evang. i. 2, 6.) St. Luke seems to dwell more than the other Evangelists upon the Priestly lineage and person of our Lord, and hence he has been represented under the symbol of a calf, because that is the principal victim of the Priest.
AMBROSE. (Prol. in Luc.) The calf being the Priestly victim, this book of the Gospel aptly answers to it, commencing as it does with the Priests, and ending in the calf, which, taking upon itself the sins of men, was sacrificed for the life of the whole world. This sacrifice of the calf also St. Luke describes with greater fulness than the rest.
GLOSS. As. then St. Luke’s intention was mainly to set forth the Passion of Christ, the subject of his Gospel may be signified by these words; I will clothe the heavens with blackness, and make sackcloth their covering. For literally at Christ’s Passion there was darkness, and the faith of the disciples was clouded.
JEROME. (sup. Esai. 53, 3.) And Christ was despised and made as one of no account, and His face was hidden and put to shame, that in the human flesh the Divine Power might be concealed.
JEROME. (sup. Esai. 6. 9.) St. Luke’s style, as well in his Gospel as in the Acts of the Apostles, is more polished than that of the others, and has a tone of secular eloquence. Hence it is added, The Lord hath given me the tongue of the learned.
AMBROSE. (sup.) For although the divine Scriptures set aside the exercise of secular wisdom as of that which is rather decked out with a show of words than based upon true reason, yet will those who seek therein find the very examples which they consider most worthy of admiration. For St. Luke, while he has preserved a kind of historic order in his narrative, and made known to us more of our Lord’s wonderful works than the other Evangelists, has at the same time contrived to unite the excellences of each kind of wisdom in the course of his Gospel. What more extraordinary in natural wisdom than his revelation that the Holy Spirit was also the Creator of our Lord’s Incarnation! In the same book, he teaches morals, as, for example, in what manner I ought to love my enemy. (Luke 6:27, 32–35.) Again, he appeals to my reason, when I read, for he that is faithful in a little will be faithful also in much. (Luke 16:10.)
EUSEBIUS. (Hist. iii. 4.) St. Luke, a native of Antioch, by profession a Physician, has left us concerning that medicine which he had received from the Apostles either through his intercourse with them or by tradition, two medical books, whereby not our bodies but our souls may be healed. And hence it follows, That I should know how by my word to uphold the weary.
JEROME. (sup. Esai. 50, 4.) For he says that he has received the word from the Lord, by which he supports the weary and wanderer, and restores them to health.
GREEK EXPOSITOR. (Metaphrastes in vit. Luc.) St. Luke, being by nature of a noble and ardent mind, acquired in his youth the learning of the Greeks. He made himself perfectly acquainted with Grammar and Poetry, as well as complete master of the art of Rhetoric and the power of persuasion. Nor was he surpassed by any one in the gifts of Philosophy; last of all, he learns Medicine. And now by his natural quickness having drunk deep enough of human wisdom, he takes flight to something higher. He hastens accordingly to Judæa, and gains access to the presence and hearing of Christ. Being soon convinced of the truth, he becomes a true disciple of Christ, and has frequent intercourse with his Master. Hence it follows, He wakeneth me at morn, (in my youth, as it were, to secular wisdom). At morn He wakeneth my ear (to divine wisdom) to hearken unto Him as my Master, i. e. Christ Himself.
EUSEBIUS. (sup.) It is said that St. Luke wrote his Gospel as it was declared to him by the mouth of St. Paul, as St. Mark also wrote those things which were told him by St. Peter.
CHRYSOSTOM. (sup. Matt. Hom. iv.) Each of them imitated his master; the one Paul, flowing more rapidly than the torrent; the other Peter, studying conciseness.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evang. iv. 9.) They wrote at a time when they both were able to receive the approbation not only of the Church of Christ, but of the Apostles themselves, still abiding in the flesh. And thus much may suffice to have been said by way of Preface.