LPNI Devotion – October 2017
In Honor of St. Luke Sunday October 15 – Feast Day October 18
When I was a teenager in the mid-1960s I was part of a summer reading program. We could read about anything that was deemed “appropriate” at that time. My choice was a book written by Taylor Caldwell, entitled Dear and Glorious Physician. This was a relatively thick paperback book, but as I read it I could hardly put it down. This novel was written about Lucanus, a gentile Greek. Lucanus, grew up in the home of his stepfather, a Roman governor of Antioch (in Syria). He studied medicine in Alexandria and became one of the greatest physicians in the ancient world. He traveled throughout the Mediterranean region healing the sick. During this time he learned of the life and death of Jesus, and came to know him as the God he was seeking. Lucanus was also a disciple of St. Paul. There is no evidence that he married nor did he have any children.
Lucanus never saw or met Jesus, but was driven to visit the places where Jesus had been and talk to those who had known him. One of those individuals was Mary, the mother of Jesus. After he found out as much as he could about Jesus, Luke the Evangelist by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote his findings in what we know as the 23 chapters of the Gospel of Luke. He is also credited with writing the 28 chapters of the Acts of the Apostles.
In the Gospel of Luke we find that he wrote several parts of the typical Christian liturgy. The first is the Magnificat found in Luke 1: 46-55, the second is the Benedictus in Luke 1: 68-79, and finally the Nunc Dimittis in Luke 2: 29-32. The Gospel of Luke is considered one of the most poetic and grammatically correct books of the Bible.
St. Luke was also considered to be a painter of the time. Tradition has it that he painted pictures of Mary with the baby Jesus. Included among his other subjects for his paintings were Saints Peter and Paul. Symbols that are related to him include a winged ox or bull and a paint brush or a palette. It is purported that he died at the age of 84 in Boeotia, Greece.
Much more could be said of St. Luke, the dear and glorious physician, but he has become the patron saint of physicians, surgeons, artists, craftsmen, bachelors, students, and butchers. A number of churches, hospitals and hospices carry the name of St. Luke. It has been a recent practice to recognize health-care workers of all related professions on St. Luke Sunday. Altar flowers are placed in their honor. Fellowship refreshments often lean to the more healthy side on St. Luke Sunday. Sometimes induction or rededication services of parish nurses and the various health-related committees occur on St. Luke Sunday. The blessing of hands of health-care workers can be a part of services on the third Sunday in October. For the churches that recognize breast cancer awareness in October, pink ribbons are often given to each congregational member.
Our prayer for St. Luke Sunday is one of thanksgiving for St. Luke, for health-care workers and health-care institutions. Further, we pray for those who are without ready access to health care and the gift and blessing that is it.
Janice M. Spikes, PhD, RN
Parish Nurse Educator
St. Luke Lutheran, Manhattan, KS, USA