For 18 October 2023, Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist, based on 2 Timothy 4:10–11, Luke 10:1–9

(Photo of Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, OP)

2 Timothy 4:10–11

Beloved: Demas, enamored of the present world, deserted me and went to Thessalonica, Crescens to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Luke is the only one with me.

Luke 10:1–9

The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two disciples
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter,
first say, ‘Peace to this household.’
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’”


Around the world, Dominicans have been justifiably delighted that Pope Francis invited Timothy Radcliffe, the emeritus master of our Order and our brother and friend from Oxford, to preach the three-day opening retreat and serve as spiritual adviser for the 365 delegates and other representatives at this month’s Synod on Synodality in Rome. In light of today’s scripture, I recall, in particular, Timothy’s third conference on friendship, given at the Synod retreat on October 2.
Timothy began this conference by saying: “On the night before he died, Jesus prayed to his Father: ‘May they be one as we are one.’ (John 17:11). But from the beginning, in almost every document of the New Testament, we see the disciples divided, quarreling, excommunicating each other. We are gathered in this Synod because we too are divided and hope and pray for unity of heart and mind. This should be our precious witness in a world which is torn apart by conflict and inequality.”
The scripture passages for today’s Feast of St. Luke begin similarly. Chapter 10 of Luke’s Gospel tells us, “The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs…. He said, ‘The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.’” Also, in our first reading, St. Paul knows that the laborers are few. He writes to his friend Timothy, “Demas, enamored of the present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica, Crescens to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Luke is the only one still with me.”
In Christian discipleship, scripture sends us on God’s mission in pairs. We go two by two in friendship. So, too, Timothy Radcliffe has called upon the Synod delegates to remember that “On the night before he died, Jesus addressed the disciples who were about to betray, deny, and desert him, saying: ‘I call you friends.’ (John 15.15).” Timothy said, “The foundation of all that we shall do in this Synod should be the friendships we create. It does not look much. It will not make headlines in the media. ‘They came all the way to Rome to make friendships! What a waste!’ But it is by friendship that we shall make the transition from ‘I’ to ‘We’. Without it, we shall achieve nothing.”
Think of all St. Paul achieved because he was not alone. He numbered Luke and Timothy as friends. The root words for synodality mean walking together on the way. As disciples of Jesus, we too are friends, and friends of God, walking the Way of Jesus. Day by day, we lean in on our friends and go out together to proclaim, “The friendship of God is at hand.”

Timothy Radcliffe, OP, on “Friendship”:

Scripture passage from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.