St Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
161 N. Murphy Ave. Sunnyvale, CA 94086
19th Sunday After Pentecost

           19th Sunday After Pentecost - Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke

            Today, the Holy Orthodox Church celebrates the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke. The Holy Apostle was, by tradition, one of the 70 disciples of the Lord. We have two sacred works written by Luke, a Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Acts of the Apostles. St. Luke, who was also a follower of the Apostle Paul, wrote his Gospel and the Acts based on the account of the Apostle Paul. So in a sense, the Gospel of Luke is actually inspired by the Apostle Paul. It is the Church's tradition that the Evangelist Luke actually encountered Christ on the road to Emmaus. In the resurrection account where Christ appeared to two of his disciples, one of them was named Cleopas, while the other was not named. It is a common literary device in the 1st Century for the Author not to name himself as a  sign of humility.

            The Apostle Luke was the only Evangelist that was non Jewish, but rather he was Greek. Other interesting facts about the Apostle Luke is that he was the first to depict the Holy Mother of God in an icon, using wax and paints. By profession, he was also different from the other Apostles, in that he was actually a physician. It is interesting how in his Gospel, many times he brings up Physicians in negative aspects. For example, in the story with the woman with an issue of blood, he said that she: "had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any" (Luke 8:43). Only when Christ came to her, he was able to impart healing upon her.

            And so it is this aspect of the Evangelist Luke that I would like to really speak about today, about how he was a physician and how this is viewed by the Holy Orthodox Church. In the time of Christ, a physician would not only examine different parts of the body that were failing, such as an organ, but rather they would look upon a man as a whole person, how they could heal them. A failing organ for example, was a symptom of something else going on with a person, such as falling away from God. In a sense physical healing would come when one is healed spiritually. This is how the Apostle Luke would bring healing to those around him, by healing someone spiritually, this would also bring about physical healing.

            In the Wisdom of Sirach from the Old Testament we read: "Honor the physician with the honor due him, according to your need of him, for the Lord created him; for healing comes from the Most High, and he will receive a gift from the king. The skill of the physician lifts up his head, and in the presence of great men he is admired. The Lord created medicines from the earth, and a sensible man will not despise them. Was not water made sweet with a tree in order that his power might be known? And he gave skill to men that he might be glorified in his marvelous works. By them he heals and takes away pain; the pharmacist makes of them a compound. His works will never be finished; and from him health is upon the face of the earth" (Sirach 38:1-8).

            This is very different to how we see faith and science today. In our modern world there is a battle between faith and science. It seems like in the modern mind that faith is contrary to science and that science disproves faith.

            This cannot be further from the truth. Just like the early Church, the Orthodox Church does not see faith as contrary to science or vice-versa, but rather faith is viewed together with science. Science is a gift from God as well as medicine. We should use these knowing and believing that God gave them to us. But we should not put our absolute hope in them. Our absolute hope should be placed in God who is the true healer of our souls and body. As we take medicine from a doctor to heal our soul, we need to combine that with spiritual medicine to heal our soul as well. Only then will we be truly healed.

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