Today we celebrate one of the churchâ€™s greatest storytellers. Our tradition holds that he was a first century physician from the city of Antioch, which is in present day Turkey. We know that he traveled widely and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ alongside Saint Paul and that he wrote down all that happened, all that he both learned and taught, in one of our beloved gospels and in the Book of Acts. In our collective religious imagination, we associate Saint Luke with healing, wholeness, and new life.
Saint Luke was one of the first proclaimers of our faith and one of the first witnesses to Godâ€™s healing love in the world. He showed the world this healing love not only in life, but also in death, in the great story he wrote down and left for all of usâ€”the story of Jesus Christ, the story of our salvation, the greatest story ever told.
The passages we read tonight from Lukeâ€™s Gospel are the very beginning and the very end of the gospel, the purpose and intent of the book, and its summary. And in between, we get many details of how Jesus lived, what he said, what he did, how he witnessed to the
world the great love that God has for Godâ€™s creation, for us. Chapter after chapter, Saint Luke recalls how Jesus healed bodies, forgave sins, renewed spirits, and gave new life.
In this greatest story that Luke recounts for us, there are at least 16 major stories specifically about healing: Jesus frees a man with an unclean spirit; relieves Simonâ€™s mother-in-law of a high fever; cleanses a leper; causes a paralytic to walk; restores a man with a withered hand; cures the centurionâ€™s servant; gives the widowâ€™s son a second chance at life; exorcises the Gerasene Demoniac; raises Jairusâ€™ daughter from the dead; cures a woman suffering with hemorrhages; restores life to a boy with a demon; heals a crippled woman; heals a man with dropsy; cleanses ten lepers; gives a blind beggar sight; and even purifies the Temple when he throws out the vendors and moneychangers! And there are several passages that simply say that Jesus healed all who were brought to him with diseases of every kind. Healing! Healing! Healing for everyone!
Saint Luke is clearly emphasizing the healing power of God. He is pointing out that when
Jesus comes into peoplesâ€™ lives, healing happens. When Jesus comes into this broken world, wholeness happens. When Jesus encounters death, he breathes into it, and gives new life. This is our story. Our story is healing, wholeness, transformation, and new life.
But our story does not stop when Jesus heals, restores, renews, and brings new life.
Jesus sends us out to heal others too, to restore others, to renew others, to bring new life to others. Let us recall the Parable of the Good Samaritan. We all know the story well. The Good Samaritan took pity on a man who fell victim to robbers as he traveled and was left to die on the side of the road. Saint Luke writes that he â€śwent to him and bandaged his woundsâ€¦then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of himâ€ť (Luke 10:34). He even paid for this man to continue to receive care until he was able to continue his journey.
This story of one person healing another has become a part of our collective conscience. We read about Good Samaritans in the news all the time. We know what a Good Samaritan is,
even if we are not familiar with Scripture. A Good Samaritan is someone who witnesses to a transcendent love, a love that has no boundaries, no reservations, no discrimination, a self-less love, a sacrificial love, a healing love.
These moments of healing love one person to another are simply reflections of the healing love meant for all of us, the healing love that came to us through the ultimate act of healing loveâ€”the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It isnâ€™t easy to remember and keep fresh in our minds that we are indeed called to heal others like Christ has healed us. It isnâ€™t easy to be a Good Samaritan, to take seriously the call to heal others. In fact, there has been much resistance to helping others in need for fear of legal repercussions if something were to go wrong.
Our legal system has in part addressed these fears and now there are laws that protect Good Samaritans, but there was a time when people were paralyzed with fear and resisted their natural impulse to help those in need, myself included.
But Saint Luke reminds us that our story is not a story of fear. It is a story of self-less love, of healing witness, of joy, of blessing. We have the courage to be healing witnesses in the world, to be Good Samaritans because as the Father promised,
Jesus sends us his Spirit to be our guide, to lead the way.
With this courage, we witness to our broken world the source of wholeness.
With this courage, we are not afraid to lay down our lives for others. With this courage, we go forth into the world with joy, blessed by God to bless others,
to be Good Samaritans, to be healing witnesses of Godâ€™s love to everyone we meet.