Today, October 18 is the Feast of St. Luke, the Evangelist. He is obviously best known as the author of the Gospel that bears his name, and for its sequel on the history of the apostolic Church, the Acts of the Apostles. St. Luke also has special significance to the medical profession as a patron of physicians and surgeons, since St. Paul calls Luke his beloved physician (Colossians 4: 14) and several Early Church Fathers refer to Luke as a doctor. (To learn more about St. Luke, click here.)
I heard a Church of Christ minister once explain that Luke traveled with St. Paul in order to treat a chronic condition that Paul called his ‘thorn in the flesh’ (1 Cor. 12: 7). I had never heard of such a tradition, and it seemed to go against St. Paul’s meaning that his suffering had spiritual value in teaching him humility and that it came from a supernatural source. I guess it shows the tendency to try to make connections and assign reasons for various elements in Scripture.
By invoking the intercession and patronage of St. Luke for physicians and those in the healthcare professions, we recognize the need for God’s grace to carry on the healing ministry of Jesus. For this reason, the Catholic Church has developed the tradition of celebrating a White Mass on or around the Feast of St. Luke to recognize the dedication of those working in the medical field, to support and care for them in their healing work, and to ask for God’s blessing on their continued efforts to cure and comfort those suffering from illness and injury. Please attend the annual Archdiocesan White Mass (click here to learn more) on Saturday, October 21 at 5 pm in the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, 1111 St. Joseph Parkway, Houston, Texas.