A Sonnet for St. Luke

St. Luke accompanied by his ‘creature’ the winged ox

This Sunday, the 18th of October is the feast day of St. Luke the Physician and Evangelist and I am posting this a little early as there may be churches or individuals who would like to use it this Sunday. It comes from Sounding the Seasons, my series of sonnets for the church year.  My sonnets, in that series, present the four Evangelists together and the imagery in those sonnets is influenced  by the images of the four living creatures round the throne of God and the tradition that each of these creatures represents both an aspect of Christ and one of the four Evangelists.

‘...since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the “pillar and ground” of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh. From which fact, it is evident that the Word, the Artificer of all, He that sitteth upon the cherubim, and contains all things, He who was manifested to men, has given us the Gospel under four aspects, but bound together by one Spirit. ‘  St. Irenaeus of Lyons  (ca. 120-202 AD)  –  Adversus Haereses 3.11.8

For a good account of this tradition click here. I am drawing my inspiration both from the opening page image of each Gospel in the Lindesfarne Gospels and also from the beautiful account of the four living creatures given by St. Ireneus, part of which I quote above.  As always you can hear the poem by clicking the ‘play’ button if it appears or clicking on the title of the poem. The photographer Margot Krebs Neale has again provided a thought-provoking photograph to interpret the poem, in this case one taken by her son Oliver.  The book with these sonnets was published by Canterbury Press  and is available from all the usual amazons etc.

As well as being himself a Physician, and therefore the patron saint of doctors and all involved in healing ministry, Luke is also the patron of artists and painters. His gospel seems to have a particular connection with those on the margins of his society. In Luke we hear the voices of women more clearly than in any other gospel, and the claims and hope of the poor in Christ find a resonant voice.

 Luke

His gospel is itself a living creature

A ground and glory round the throne of God,

Where earth and heaven breathe through human nature

And One upon the throne sees it is good.

Luke is the living pillar of our healing,

A lowly ox, the servant of the four,

We turn his page to find his face revealing

The wonder, and the welcome of the poor.

He breathes good news to all who bear a burden

Good news to all who turn and try again,

The meek rejoice and prodigals find pardon,

A lost thief reaches paradise through pain,

The voiceless find their voice in every word

And, with Our Lady, magnify Our Lord.

Thanks to Margot Krebs Neale for this image

4 Comments

Filed under christianity, imagination, literature, Poems

4 responses to “A Sonnet for St. Luke

  1. Just a quick couple sentences of love and greetings in the Faith. I’m sitting in a Starbucks trying to coax something inspirational/worthwhile out of myself for some contributions to Steve’s next Pilgrim Year offering for Eastertide. Thank you for the almost daily graces coming to my inbox. Your friend, fan, and if need be, occasional bodyguard … Bob.

    BOB BENNETT Sent from my iPad.

    >

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks Bob. Much appreciated. It would be great if you and Steve and I could have another mountaintop songwriting session!

      • I didn’t pay one whit of attention to the fact that replying would post on the blog. Sure happy I “behaved myself”! I sure would love to do some brainstorming on a new project that the three of us could work on.

  2. Pingback: A Sonnet for St. Luke | academicjournalonline

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