Happy Saint Luke’s Day!
If you’re following the current ACNA liturgy, the Morning Prayer readings include Luke 1:1-4, which is a break from the usual pattern of lessons inserted to celebrate the holy day. There, you’ll be introduced to Luke’s intention as a writer of Scripture. If you attend Holy Communion today you’ll hear other readings pertaining to the feast day.
Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 38:1-14 is a passage of Jewish wisdom literature extolling the virtues of the role of a physician in society. It addresses both the worldly function of healing and wellness as well as the spiritual aspects of prayer for healing and care for the soul. Luke, being known as a physician as well as an Evangelist, is an excellent embodiment of this wisdom text.
2 Timothy 4:1-13 serves a dual purpose on this feast day. On the more basic level, it mentions Luke toward the end of the reading. We learn that Luke was among St. Paul’s final companions during his incarceration in Rome. But the larger part of the reading is a sort of “last charge” to Paul’s son-in-the-faith, Timothy, who himself was at that point a local bishop elsewhere. The instructions to preach and teach the faith without wavering, for the benefit of his hearers’ souls, are not unlike the role of a spiritual physician, tending to the spiritual health of the flock. The Collect of the Day is largely informed by this dynamic:
Almighty God, you called Luke the physician to be an evangelist and physician of the soul: We pray that we, by the wholesome medicine of the doctrine which he taught, may have all the diseases of our souls be healed; through Jesus Christ our Lord…
Finally, Luke 4:14-21 brings this back to Jesus. In these verses, Jesus reads an Old Testament prophecy concerning himself: that he would minister to the poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed. Those who need healing will find their health in him. Saint Luke was a great physician of body and soul, but Jesus is the great physician, through whom all who come to him find wholeness and strength.
But if you want to sit with this holy day in greater depth and search the scriptures further, here are some other passages you could read on your own time (or perhaps at Midday Prayer or Compline).
- Isaiah 55 (various pictures of life and healing that God offers)
- Isaiah 61:1-6 (the text Jesus quoted from, with more context)
- Colossians 4:7-end (a “greetings” passage that identifies Luke as a physician)
- 2 Timothy 3:10-end (more of St. Paul’s “last charge”, leading up to the epistle lesson at Holy Communion)