Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
The Rev’d Charles Everson
October 23, 2022
Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, the original patron saint of this Church. Luke is traditionally believed to have been the author of both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, which means that Luke is the author of more than one-fourth of the New Testament. He was likely a Gentile Christian – the only Gentile to write the books in the canon of the Bible. He is also the first Christian physician on record. Luke accompanied St. Paul on a significant part of his missionary journey, and he likely acted as Paul’s personal physician.
It’s no surprise that the church considers Luke to be the patron of physicians and more generally of health and healing, and thus, a tradition has been established wherein parish churches such as ours have a healing mass on his feast. In a few moments, I will those of you who are interested to exit your pew chairs and head to one of the four stations, and a priest will lay hands on you and pray with for healing, and will anoint you on the forehead with the oil of the infirm. Most people in today’s world go to a physician when they’re sick, not a priest, and there’s certainly some logic to that. But the Church gives us the opportunity to receive God’s grace in a special way in the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. By the laying on of hands and anointing with oil, the church’s intention is to bring healing in this life by joining the sufferings of the sick person to Christ. But it’s not only intended to bring physical healing, it also brings the forgiveness of sin, and the ultimate healing of the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. The priest, in this act, isn’t casting a magic spell, but is instead responding to the faith that the individual seeking God’s grace displays in seeking it – faith that the Lord can use ordinary creatures like a priest’s hands and olive oil to join his or her sufferings to Christ and begin to bring healing and wholeness and freedom.
In today’s gospel, Luke presents to us a sermon that Jesus preached that essentially involved him reading from the book of Isaiah. He said, “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.” This short passage contains the essence – the heart of Jesus’s life and ministry. It’s all about healing and freedom and release. As you and I receive God’s healing and forgiveness today in both the Anointing of the Sick and in the Holy Eucharist, we are called to leave this place and take that reconciliation and wholeness to a broken and hurting world. To take this Good News to the poor. To proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind. To let the opposed go free. To take the healing and wholeness of Jesus to everyone we encounter. Amen.
 Hans Boersma, Matthew Leverling, and R.W.L. Moberly, The Oxford Handbook of Sacramental Theology (Oxford University Press, 2015), 558-564.
The sermons preached at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Kansas City, are posted here!