Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Lord takes care of body and soul


THE wages of sin is death, but a slow and agonizing one; one marked by illness, weakness, pain, agony, sorrow, struggle, uncertainty, sleepless nights and days troubled by medical bills, endless visits to doctors, pharmacies and therapists, and round after round with insurance company call centers, so it should come as no surprise to us that Jesus the Great Physician of body and soul should choose St. Luke, who was a medical doctor to be an evangelist and physician of the soul.

This gives us something to think about because many Christians think that their faith affects nothing more than their soul.  They think, like the Scribes and Pharisees, that Jesus can say "your sins be forgiven you" all day long, but that he is either unwilling or unable in this modern age to say as He did to the paralytic man, "rise up and walk."

Hear the Word of the Lord!  When you are sick you should pray!  When you are ill you should cry out to God to make you well.  You should call for the pastor, as St. James admonishes, to anoint you with oil, pray for your wellbeing, and forgive you all your sins, because illness is not some strange visitor from another planet, but the just deserts of our trespasses, so you should ask no one less than the Great Physician to ease your  pain, relieve your burden, forgive your sins and to remove the "dis" from your dis-ease, not apart from the established means of the medical arts, but through them.  Yet if they are unable to help you, then in spite of them.  For it is St. Luke the medical doctor who records the account of the woman who suffered for 12 years with a disease of the blood, whom doctors could not cure, and on which she had spent all of her money.  Every effort was in vain until she touched the hem of the Great Physician's garment, then she was made instantly well.

Yes, use the medical arts if you can, but please know that sin is more deadly a disease than the profession will ever be equipped to handle.  While it can do much, it has no cure for most ailments, and certainly none for death which comes to us all due to our sins.  Neither can  we be sure today if medicine is the noble art and science it once was, or if it is a cold and heartless industry, yet in either case trust in the Great Physician of body and soul for all that you want and for all that you need.

Jesus doesn't only redeem the body, but He heals the soul as well.  St. Luke gives the entire account of our salvation in his sacred gospel.  He commits it to writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit so that it will give hope to sinners until Jesus makes all things new by His glorious appearing.

In his divine document, Luke records the wonders that God wrought "for us men and for our salvation."  Not only records, but records faithfully and accurately, and to such a degree that even modern biblical scholars who love to bash the scriptures; who delight in showing people that the Bible is nothing special; even these lost souls bow to St. Luke as an accurate and brilliant historian, who researched, investigated, studied, and who did all his homework before he dared to write his gospel on parchment.

That is the kind of man that our saint was, and the kind of man we all should strive to be.  He wasn't only faithful to his Lord, but he was loyal to his fellow man as well.  St. Paul notes in his letter to Timothy that "only Luke is with me."  (2 Tim. 4:11)  After everyone else deserted him, only Luke stayed close by his side as he suffered his many trials; as he endured imprisonments, floggings and privation for the sake of the gospel, and we would not be wrong if we imagined that St. Luke was St. Paul's personal physician; the one who tended to him, and who treated the bruised, bloodied and battered body that suffered from so much abuse, illness and deprivation.

It is this same faithful Luke who accurately records what we call the Christmas Story.  He begins with the miraculous birth of St. John the Baptist who was born to introduce the world to its Savior, and it is in Luke's gospel that we meet hopeful Elizabeth, priestly Zechariah, the Blessed Virgin Mary, devout Anna and ever-patient Simeon, and it is their prayers recorded in St. Luke's gospel, the Magnificat and Benedictus, that the church still sings today, and still prays with all vim, vigor and faith.

It is in the famous second chapter of St. Luke's gospel where we read the immortal and awe-inspiring Christmas story; the nativity of Jesus whose name means Savior, who came to offer His sacred life as the Evening Sacrifice that remits all of our sins and makes us holy before God.

It is in the third chapter that we read our Lord's genealogy going all the way back to Adam:  teaching us that Jesus who is "perfect God and Perfect Man" shares human DNA, so that by His holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death we should share His divinity and be reconciled to our waiting Father, so that as our Lord gloriously rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, we too should live a new life.

That is the power of this holy Christian faith into which we are baptized, that through Christ who bore our burden on the cross we, too, will attain to the resurrection of the dead, and that the same Jesus, revealed in St. Luke's gospel is with us now and forever, for you can be certain that it is His voice that warms our hearts when the Scriptures are opened to us each Sunday; His absolution and benediction we gladly receive and His body and blood that we take into our own in the HOLIEST COMMUNION  of all:  for with God, nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37)  Amen.

~ Rev. Dean Kavouras

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