In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today we are celebrating the memory of the holy apostle and evangelist Luke. St Luke was one of the Seventy Apostles appointed by Christ to preach the Good News in cities and towns where the Saviour Himself would shortly visit. This is the context of the Gospel read for his celebration, Luke 10: 16-21.
Jesus was preparing to send out the Seventy to preach and to heal the sick. He warned them that some towns would receive them, while others would reject them utterly. He told them to remain and spend time in the receptive towns, but to denounce the towns that rejected them, and say: “‘The very dust of your city which clings to our feet we shake off against you” (Luke 10:11). The Lord then said to the Seventy, “He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.”
This is where our Gospel reading for St Luke begins. Then the text continues:
17 “Then the Seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”
Even though the Saviour had sent the Seventy out to preach and to heal the sick, their experience was that demons were also being cast out. The reaction of the Seventy was joyful amazement. There’s also something else going on here, the Seventy did not become puffed-up themselves because of what happened. They recognized that all of their power, all of their ability to preach, all of their authority to cast out demons, came from the grace of God, and the all-mighty name of Jesus! Now for the next verse:
18 And He (Jesus) said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven!”
What does this mean? Remember, our Lord Jesus Christ is the “Theanthropos,” perfect God and perfect man. As God, as the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, He was there, and He participated, in throwing Satan out of Heaven. Right? And what was Satan’s name when he was an Archangel? “Lucifer,” meaning “the light-bearer.” When he was cast out of Heaven, his light flashed like lightening in his descent and then he became darkness. His removal from Heaven was his removal from glory, and light, and everything good. That’s why the demons fled from the Name of Jesus. That’s why the demons scurried and slithered away from the Seventy Apostles. Now the next verse:
19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
The Lord had given this power to the Seventy to make it clear to them and to us that the primary enemy of mankind is Satan and his evil minions the demons. St. Theophylact of Ohrid says that the word “serpents” represent the demons that attack in a very outward and visible way. The word “scorpions” means those demons whose attacks are more subtle, invisible. The rage and passion to murder, for instance, comes from the temptations of the very outward “serpents.” The subtle temptation to render aid to a very attractive person, for instance, begins with an almost imperceptible sting, which then can lead to calamitous results. These are the “scorpions.” But the authority of grace, and the power of the Name, can help us repel any kind of attack. Now, the next verse:
20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
Beware of the invisible and imperceptible scorpion sting! Today (Jesus says) you are humble about your experiences of grace. Don’t allow the subtle demon of pride to infect you. Satan and his demons were cast down from Heaven. You, however, have been raised up to Heaven! That’s what Jesus is telling St. Luke and the Seventy. Rejoice that your names are ensconced in the Kingdom of Heaven, the New Jerusalem! And lastly, this verse:
21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.
Jesus rejoices, as any parent would, over the success of His spiritual children. The conclusion of this morning’s Gospel reading shows our Lord raising His eyes to Heaven and thanking His Father for the sincere, eager, and humble disciples that He gave to Him. The “wise” and “prudent” are the religious “experts” of the day: the Scribes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees.” Almost none of these were willing, nor were they able, to receive the words of life or the power of grace that came from Jesus Christ.
May we also, dear brothers and sisters, find ourselves humble, sincere, and eager disciples of the Lord, like the holy, apostle and evangelist Luke, hearing and sharing His word, and manifesting His power in this wounded and demon-afflicted world. Amen.