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The Extraordinary Personal Qualities of our Patron St. Luke: What it can mean for you and the Orthodox Church Family
By Lee Kopulos

As many of you know from my previous book review article on St. Luke, he has had a profound impact on my family. You might remember how Linda and I, upon choosing the name of Luke for our son, came to the church in Olympia Fields in 1980 to announce it to our Priest, Fr. George Zervos. Father George was amazed for he had just got off the phone with Fr. Isaiah, the Diocesan Chancellor, who had advised him that the new Baptistry would be named after St. Luke. "What a joy and prophecy that your Luke will be the first baby baptized there. It surely is the will of God that he be so named!" said Father.

The second event with St.Luke came with the naming of our Church here in Palos Hills. In 1983, in our third and last visit with Bishop Boris (of Blessed Memory) he indicated that at our next meeting he would name our new Mission. Everyone was excited and gave him names to consider. No one gave the name St. Luke. The night before the meeting I awoke in darkness, after hearing in a dream that he would name our Mission after the Great Apostle Luke!

St. Luke continues to this very day to respond to my intercessory prayer keeping our parish a healthy and vibrant group in the name of the Lord and a parish that is "not being (just) hearers of the word only, but doers of the word." (Jas.1:22)

St. Luke "A Painter of Words."

The most versatile of all the New Testament writers, St. Luke is a perfect example of using your talent(s). Luke is a multi-talented person who used all of his talents for the building up of the Body of Christ. He is a saint with a capital S.

As a Church historian, Luke wrote the largest part of the Holy Gospel of Christ, responsible for over 60 pages in the New Testament with his Gospel and the Book of Acts. Some historians claim he is responsible for much of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Luke's writings are characterized by his attention to detail, i.e., precise references to local customs. He is the only one who gives a full account of the Annunciation of Mary, Mary's meeting with cousin Elizabeth, the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Parable of the Prodigal Son. He is also the only non-Jewish apostle.

While known widely for healing abilities as a physician, Luke was the son of Greek slaves to a Roman Tribune named Diodorus in Antioch, Syria. Antioch is noted for producing the ablest masters of the arts and sciences. A warm and loving person, Diodorus, observed the unique brilliance in Luke and assigned him to a teacher of physicians. His mentor sees him as one "touched by divinity." After Diodorus' death, Luke is appointed his administrator and goes to Rome. There he is named by the Emperor, Tiberius Caesar, to be Chief Medical Officer. He declines, to the Caesar's amazement, and goes on to serve mostly the poor.

As an Evangelist, Luke is the ardent and dedicated disciple of St. Paul. St. Paul mentions him many times as a companion of his travels; he calls him "Luke the beloved physician," (Col.4: 14) and "his fellow laborer," (Phil.v.24). Luke first appears in Acts at Troas where he meets St. Paul, and, after his vision of a man calling him to Macedonia. The leading city of Macedonia is Philipi, and Paul leaves Luke there to evangelize there. Later, Luke is a companion of Paul's at Athens, Corinth, Jerusalem and Ephesus. Importantly, Luke stood by Paul in his last days of imprisonment. Writing to Timothy, St. Paul says, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith, - ¦come to me quickly - Demas has left me, loving this world- Only Luke is with me." (2Tim. 4:7-11) After the martyrdom of St. Paul, Luke is known to have preached in Italy, Dalmatia, Macedonia, Galatia and Thebes in Egypt.

Finally, Luke is the first iconographer, for he is credited with writing the first icon of the Virgin Mary found in Jerusalem and sent to Empress Pulcheria of Constantinople, who placed it in the Hodegorum Church there. An inscription found in a vault in Rome says a picture of the Virgin discovered there was "one of seven painted by St. Luke."

Many want to know of his death. There are two claims. One is that he died a natural death at age 84 at Thebes since there is a tomb with his name at about that time. However, some feel that this tomb is confused with another Luke Stiriote, a hermit of that country. The other claim is that he died a martyr's death being crucified at Elea in the Peloponnesus near Achaia. Ancient African Martyrology of the 5th century gives him the title of Evangelist and Martyr. In the Emperor Justinian's time, 6th Century, at the church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople, three coffins were dug up with the inscriptions of St. Luke, St. Andrew and St. Timothy!!! Some of his relics are kept at Rome in the church of St. Andrew and Mt.Athos.

The point is: Use your talents!

That's right; we all need to use our God-given talents for His Church. In Ephesians 4, we find that a Priest's job is to equip the saints. He is to be the manager, trainer and coach of his people. He is to find out what talents they have and give them a ministry that fits the talent.

"to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we reach the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." (Eph. 4:11-13)

What has happened to Orthodoxy Christianity in the past is clericalism. Most congregations today have been reduced to passive spectators of the liturgical services. The priest and choir or chanters are on stage putting on a show. No wonder we have those who say, "I can't get anything out of Liturgy." The sense of the community, of being active participants in the liturgical service has been lost. Fortunately, at St. Luke our Fr. Andrew has been a wise "coach," for he has seen to it that all our members have a priestly ministry according to their individual talents, and our congregation from its inception has encouraged and successfully accomplished congregational singing as the norm.

This is what scripture says about the Laity --- the Royal Priesthood:

"You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deed of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:9)

Yes, we are called to offer sacrifices of praise to God, to do good by our neighbor, to visit the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, help the poor, and bring the word of God and the love of God to all His people on earth. At baptism we received the Holy Spirit to do these priestly functions. Whatever we choose to do as laborers, engineers, doctors, teachers, we must do it out in the world and in the name of Christ.

So you do not have to be of the Ordained Priestly ministry. They have their responsibility in the church; but everyone else has a responsibility as the Priesthood of the Laity to work for Christ in the family, workplace and out in public sector. You have by your baptism "Put on Christ," so begin realizing and using your talents, as our Great Patron St. Luke has so admirably done, for the Glory of God and the building up of His Church.

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