In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Today, we are commemorating the Holy Apostle Luke. I’ll share with you a little bit about the life of this Holy Apostle of Christ, taken from our OCA website: He was a native of Syrian Antioch, a companion of the holy Apostle Paul (Phil.1:24, 2 Tim. 4:10-11), and a physician enlightened in the Greek medical arts. As one of the Seventy Apostles, Saint Luke was sent by the Lord with the others to preach the Kingdom of Heaven during the Savior’s earthly life (Luke 10:1-3). After the Resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Saints Luke and Cleopas on the road to Emmaus. After the martyric deaths of the First-Ranked Apostles Peter and Paul, Saint Luke left Rome to preach in Achaia, Libya, Egypt and the Thebaid. He ended his life by suffering martyrdom in the city of Thebes in what is now central Greece.
Tradition credits Saint Luke with painting the first icons of the Mother of God. “Let the grace of Him Who was born of Me and My mercy be with these Icons,” said the All-Pure Virgin after seeing the icons. Saint Luke’s Gospel was written in the years 62-63 at Rome, under the guidance of the Apostle Paul. Saint Luke also wrote the Acts of the Holy Apostles at Rome around 62-63 A.D. The Book of Acts, which is a continuation of the four Gospels, speaks about the works and the fruits of the holy Apostles after the Ascension of the Savior. https://www.oca.org/saints/lives/2020/10/18/102993-apostle-and-evangelist-luke
The Gospel which we read today for the Apostle Luke doesn’t specifically mention St. Luke, but at the beginning of the reading, Jesus is speaking to the group of 70 disciples whom the Lord would be sending out to spread the Gospel message.
Today’s Gospel reading for the Holy Apostle Luke; Luke 10:16-21:
16 Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me. Whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your Name!”18 Jesus said to them, “I saw Satan having fallen like lightning from heaven! 19 Behold, I give you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. Nothing will in any way hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 21 In that same hour, Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I confess you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for doing so was well-pleasing in your sight (Lk 10:16–21).
There’s a very interesting statement made by Jesus in this gospel: “18 Jesus said to them, “I saw Satan having fallen like lightning from heaven!” in vs. 18. It would be very easy just to keep reading and kind of skip over this. Sometimes we forget who our real enemy is. We forget that there is a force working in this world, that is truly a sworn enemy of God.
When mankind was created, man was intended to be the lord of creation. But Satan in his jealousy of God, and of us who were created in God’s image, provoked our ancestors to fall into sin. So that now instead of being the kings and queens of creation we were meant to be, we are merely slaves to our various passions, constantly being deceived by the deceiver to think that what we experience of life here on earth is all there is, and that this is what our lives were always meant to be. We need to remind ourselves, again, of who our real adversary is. Because, as I said, he is the deceiver, and his mission is to destroy mankind, and Christ’s Church. One of the ways he does this is to get mankind to take our anger and animosity that should be directed towards satan, and towards our sins, and tricks us to direct it instead at our fellow man. In these difficult and divisive days, we would do very well to remember the words of the Holy Apostle Peter: “Be sober, self-controlled, and watchful. Your adversary, the devil, roams about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, knowing that your brethren throughout the world experience the same sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8-9.
To help illustrate this reality, of which Christ mentioned, I’ll give a couple more quotes, one from Isaiah, and one from Revelation. Keep in mind as I read these what Jesus said in the Gospel, “I saw satan having fallen like lightening from Heaven!” Jesus wasn’t speaking in parables here.
Now the quote from Isaiah chapter 14: “12 How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, who rose up in the morning! He who sends for all the nations is crushed to the earth. 13 For you said in your mind, ‘I will ascend into heaven; I will place my throne above the stars of heaven. I will sit on a lofty mountain, on the lofty mountains toward the north. 14 I will ascend above the clouds; I will be like the Most High.’ 15 But now you shall descend to Hades, to the foundations of the earth.” Isaiah 14: 12-15. You can get a sense of the kind of pride satan and the angels that follow him have. And having never achieved those ambitions, one can imagine how bitter and jealous he must be, and jealous especially of mankind, which had been created by God in His own image.
And listen to this interesting reference from Revelation: “7 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Rev: 12: 7-9.
And another reminder from the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: “12 Truly, our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness and against the evil spiritual forces of the supernatural realms. 13 Therefore, put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to resist when the evil day comes. Having accomplished all things, may you stand your ground! (Eph 6:12–13). Our neighbor is not our enemy. The evil one is. But he has done a really good job of making it seem as if our neighbor is our enemy. There’s so much strife and anger out there. Now because of this virus, some of that anger is even directed towards the leaders of the Church who have had to make very difficult decisions. What a skillful deceiver! If he could even turn the various members of the Body of Christ against each other! A priest I know says often, “The devil is dancing on their heads!” And he’s really dancing these days!
In one of today’s epistle readings we heard some very good council from the Apostle Paul to the Colossians: “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.
6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” Colossians 4: 5-6.
Walk in wisdom… let your speech always be with grace.” Hard to do, yes. But it echoes another similar Gospel reading also. In Matthew 10, the Lord is sending out His 12 disciples to spread the Gospel, using similar language to what we heard in Luke today. But one verse here stands out a little, “16 Behold, I send you out as sheep among wolves! Therefore, be wise as serpents, and yet innocent as doves” (Mt 10:16). But how to be wise, yet innocent? Perhaps this is what the Apostle John is talking about when he says to us: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can discern the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. 3 But every spirit who does not confess Jesus Christ as having come in the flesh is not from God, and this is the spirit of the Antichrist which you have heard is coming, and is already in the world.” (1 Jn 4:1–3).
We must be wise, but innocent. Do you feel that you lack in wisdom? “5 Yet if any of you lacks wisdom, let such a one ask of God who gives to all abundantly and without finding fault; and it will be given to him” (Jas 1:5).
And finally I want to share with you some very good advice, once again from the Holy Apostle Paul speaking to us in 1 Thessalonians: “15 See that no one returns evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good, both for one another and for all. 16 Rejoice always! 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 Give thanks in everything because this is God’s will in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Th 5:15–18).
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. Glory to Jesus Christ!