Apostle and Physician
St. Luke is quite special. Not only was he the only Gentile to write books of the Bible, but he was a close companion of St. Paul. If St. Paul succeeded in evangelizing the western Roman empire, Luke may have had more to do with it than we know. It is likely that God used his medical skills to keep St. Paul alive some of those times when he was beaten, stoned, or half-drowned.
St. Luke is special, too, because he is the first Christian physician on record. Untold thousands have followed in his steps. Physicians can look to St. Luke as an example, but so can historians, because his writings are very much in the Greek tradition. Painters claim him for their brotherhood, too, because tradition holds he painted a picture of the Blessed Virgin which hung in the Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.
As a physician, Luke must have been curious about the medical conditions behind Christ's miracles. As a matter of fact, Luke uses more medical terms than any other New Testament writer. For example, he doesn't just say Publius' father was sick: he tells us he suffered from fever and dysentery. The apostle Paul told us that Luke was a doctor. In fact, he called him "dear doctor Luke." Given his use of medical detail in the two books he wrote for the Bible, The Gospel According to Luke and The Acts of the Apostles, we might have guessed it ourselves.
Luke pulled back the curtain on the young Jesus more than any other gospel writer. Without him we would not know anything about the boy Jesus's thinking. It is a pretty safe bet that Luke interviewed the Blessed Virgin Mary and got most of the details from her. Perhaps he even heard the Magnificat, recorded in his gospel alone, from her very own lips. October 18 is the great doctor's feast day in churches that observe such traditions.
St. Luke is patron saint of artists, bachelors, bookbinders, brewers, butchers, doctors, glass makers, glassworkers, gold workers, goldsmiths, lacemakers, lace workers, notaries, painters, physicians, sculptors, stained glass workers, surgeons, and unmarried men.
Tradition tells us that St. Luke was the son of pagan parents, possibly born a slave, and was one of the earliest converts. Legend has that he was also a painter who may have done portraits of Jesus and His Mother, but none have ever been correctly attributed to him. This story, and the inspiration of his Gospel, has always led artists to his patronage of them. St. Luke traveled with St. Paul and evangelized Greece and Rome with him, being there for the shipwreck and other perils of the voyage to Rome. St. Luke wrote the Gospel According to Luke, much of which was based on the teachings and writings of St. Paul and his own experiences. He also wrote a history of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles. He was a martyr.
The Lessons Appointed for Use on the Feast Day of St. Luke
Almighty God, who inspired your servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of your Son: Graciously continue in your Church this love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The First Lesson
Honor physicians for their services,
for the Lord created them;
for their gift of healing comes from the Most High,
and they are rewarded by the king.
The skill of physicians makes them distinguished,
and in the presence of the great they are admired.
The Lord created medicines out of the earth,
and the sensible will not despise them.
And he gave skill to human beings
that he might be glorified in his marvelous works.
By them the physician heals and takes away pain;
the pharmacist makes a mixture from them.
God's works will never be finished;
and from him health spreads over all the earth.
My child, when you are ill, do not delay,
but pray to the Lord, and he will heal you.
Give up your faults and direct your hands rightly,
and cleanse your heart from all sin.
Then give the physician his place, for the Lord created him;
do not let him leave you, for you need him.
There may come a time when recovery lies in the hands of physicians,
for they too pray to the Lord
that he grant them success in diagnosis
and in healing, for the sake of preserving life.
Psalm 147 or 147:1-7 Page 804, BCP
How good it is to sing praises to our God! *
how pleasant it is to honor him with praise!
The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem; *
he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted *
and binds up their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars *
and calls them all by their names.
Great is our LORD and mighty in power; *
there is no limit to his wisdom.
The LORD lifts up the lowly, *
but casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; *
make music to our God upon the harp.
He covers the heavens with clouds *
and prepares rain for the earth;
He makes grass to grow upon the mountains *
and green plants to serve mankind.
He provides food for flocks and herds *
and for the young ravens when they cry.
He is not impressed by the might of a horse; *
he has no pleasure in the strength of a man;
But the LORD has pleasure in those who fear him, *
in those who await his gracious favor.
Worship the LORD, O Jerusalem; *
praise your God, O Zion;
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates; *
he has blessed your children within you.
He has established peace on your borders; *
he satisfies you with the finest wheat.
He sends out his command to the earth, *
and his word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool; *
he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
He scatters his hail like bread crumbs; *
who can stand against his cold?
He sends forth his word and melts them; *
he blows with his wind, and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob, *
his statutes and his judgments to Israel.
He has not done so to any other nation; *
to them he has not revealed his judgments.
2 Timothy 4:5-13
As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.
As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Do your best to come to me soon, for Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful in my ministry. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.
Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."