St. Luke the Evangelist our Patron Saint

St. Luke the Evangelist our Patron Saint

 

Wednesday October 18th is the Festival of St. Luke the Evangelist and Patron Saint of our Parish. To the glory of God and in commemoration of St. Luke, I intend to celebrate Holy Communion in the Chapel at 7:00 p.m. on that day. There are a few reasons why we should observe this Festival.

Firstly, we honor the Lord in the celebration of our Patronal Festival. Secondly, this is the Saint who was also called by St. Paul “the beloved physician” in Colossians 4:14. Believing, as we do at St. Luke’s, that healing is an important part of our ministry to one another and to all, we should honor St. Luke as one to whom the Lord gave a ministry and gifts of healing and one who as a gospel-writer, or Evangelist, recorded the Lord Jesus Christ’s acts of healing. Thirdly, St. Luke emphasized through his Gospel account the fact that the Gospel is for people of all kinds, both the poor and the rich, and for both Jew and Gentile. Through the writings of St. Luke the Evangelist, we catch a glimpse of the love of God for all people.

Fourthly, and this is perhaps not often mentioned, St. Luke wrote with the concern of the historian for a true and accurate account of events, since he wanted the person whom he addresses as “most excellent Theophilus” (Luke 1:3) to have a trustworthy record of the Gospel in which he had received instruction as a catechumen (one being taught the Christian faith in preparation for Holy Baptism). His concern for the history of the preaching of the Gospel and for the accurate record he wanted Theophilus to have, led him to write the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, as an account of how the Lord Jesus Christ not only ascended into heaven, but also poured out the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and first disciples, leading to mighty evangelism, the Church’s continuing ministry of healing by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the expansion of Christianity through the Mediterranean lands. If we are concerned about the power of the Church and of all Christians to bear witness effectively to the Lord Jesus Christ in the world today, we must reflect on the example of St. Luke shown by his life and writings, and pray for the grace to continue both the work of evangelism that he did and Christ’s ministry of healing which accompanied the preaching of the Gospel (Acts 2:22; 2:43; 4:29-30; 5:12; 5:15-16; 8:13; 14:3).

It is probable that St. Luke was a martyr, but the date and place of his martyrdom is uncertain. The Festival of St. Luke the Evangelist first began to be celebrated in the Western Church in the eighth century (p. 253, Massey Hamilton Shepherd, Jr .: The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary. New York: OUP, 1955).

The significance of this Festival for the Church is principally to direct its attention both to the importance of St. Luke’s account of the Gospel, in particular, the love and healing power of God’s Son revealed in it, and to the revelation of Christ’s love and healing power in the Church today, so that people may receive this healing in their bodies and souls (Collect, p. 253, Book of Common Prayer, 1928). It is noteworthy that the Collect for St. Luke the Evangelist first highlights the love and healing power of God’s Son as revealed in the Gospel according to St. Luke, and then prays that this same love and healing power may be shown in the Church for the purpose of the healing of “our bodies and our souls.” The Collect stresses the primacy of Holy Scripture as the source of the revelation of God’s love and healing power. The knowledge of this grace is available to anyone who reads the Gospel according to St. Luke. It is not limited to the person of St. Luke himself, nor does the Collect pray for God to show His Son’s healing power and love only in a particular saint, or martyr, or evangelist, or pastor, but in the Church. The reason for this is that there is only one Mediator between God and man, and He is the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). In the blessed Name of the Lord Jesus Christ we pray for healing and receive from God the kind of healing He gives us. In the first Collect for St. Luke, the emphasis lies on the wholesome medicines of St. Luke’s doctrines through which God heals “all the diseases of our souls” ( The First English Prayer Book, 1549). The Collect for the 1928 Prayer Book broadens the scope of God’s love and healing power, not limiting it to the healing of diseases of the souls only, but extending it to our bodies also, reflecting the holistic perspective on healing we find in St. Luke’s account of the Gospel.

For if healing is limited only to the healing of one kind of illness only, be it physical, mental, or spiritual, that limitation does not reflect the fullness of Christ’s healing grace and power as we find it recorded in the Gospels, including the Gospel according to St. Luke. Here is an example of how St. Luke himself acknowledged the limitations of medicine in healing: in his account of the woman who had suffered hemorrhages for twelve years, he mentions that no-one had been able to heal her. A variant reading of Luke 8:43 adds that she had spent all her money on doctors. Even if it’s unlikely this variant reading was a part of the original text, the implication of the verse without the variant reading is that doctors had tried to heal her but could not. The healing abilities of doctors and medicines in ancient times were of course far more limited than they are today, but the point of the Evangelist is that people’s need for Christ’s divine healing has not ceased. Even today, with all the advances in medical science, there are instances where neither surgery nor medicine is able to bring complete healing to a person. There is therefore always a need for the healing gifts (1 Corinthians 12:9) which operate through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and his healing grace.

Seeing that there are always people both in and outside of the Church who need healing, how can we at St. Luke’s, be instruments of Christ’s healing grace? This is our Spiritual Vision (see church website, www.stlukeschapel.church).

Imagine a hospital in which the doctors didn’t have the skills needed for their profession, and some patients discharged themselves without waiting to be discharged. If we think of the Church as a hospital, this is not the kind of hospital it should be. Submission to the authority of a doctor is required of a patient, just as professional knowledge, skills and behavior are required of a doctor. If a church is to be an effective hospital, it must foster a respect for the authority of its leaders and mutual respect of members for one another. The healing that we seek to receive and of which we wish to be ministers comes from God. First of all, then, we must all love God more than we love anyone or anything else. This love will find expression in receiving from the Lord Jesus Christ the prescriptions He has given us for our health - both the word of God and the Sacraments, in particular, since our Baptism, the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Frequent reception of the Holy Communion ought to be one of our goals. If anyone feels the service of Holy Communion is too long, he can come to the 12:00 p.m. service of Holy Communion on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, or if illness prevents even this, he can call the Rector to bring him Holy Communion from the Reserved Sacrament. Together with this goes a love for God’s word, the Holy Bible. In this word, we find that to “fear the Lord and to depart from evil” is “health” (Proverbs 3:8), and that the words of the Lord bring life and healing (Proverbs 4:22) and that the Lord heals the back-slidden (Jeremiah 3:22; Hosea 14:4). The Lord Jesus Christ’s mission on earth included the healing of the sick, and through the Holy Spirit He continues to heal the sick today. To be a community of healing, we must all love the Lord wholeheartedly, love one another deeply, and be a people obedient to God’s word and prayerful. If visitors and strangers coming to our services can really say, “Truly, the presence of the Lord is among you,” we shall have come a long way to showing people the Lord Jesus Christ by whom they can be healed.

The need for healing of all kinds is most apparent in American society. Racism and prejudice, divisions of class and economic status, political divisions, are all symptoms of a nation which needs the love of God and the healing of God. For some, even the importance of patriotism is overshadowed by injustices in society which are not being corrected. Football players kneeling instead of standing at the sound of the national anthem are a signal of protest, but we certainly need people who will kneel in prayer for the healing of our nation and of society. Since we have St. Luke as the Patron Saint of our Parish, let us give ourselves to God in prayer for the healing of ourselves, of the Church, of society and of this nation of the United States of America.