Message to Graduates – Saint Luke the Surgeon by Fr. Hector Firoglanis

– Sunday, June 11, 2017

 

Today is All Saints Sunday, but it is also the Sunday we have chosen to honor our High School and College graduates. 

 

The Saint on the Church calendar today – June 11 – just so happens to be a Saint who offers a wonderful example for students and college graduates.  He is a saint who lived during the 20th century.  He was an excellent student.  He was dedicated to God.  And he became one of the most prominent ophthalmologists and surgeons of his time. 

 

His name is St. Luke the Surgeon.  He was born in Crimea in 1871, died in 1961 on All saints Sunday, and was glorified as a saint of the Church in 1996. 

 

Saint Luke discovered his vocation when he saw that little was being done to help those who were suffering from various illnesses and preventable blindness.  He was a gifted artist and received his undergraduate degree from a college of fine arts. 

 

However, he felt a calling from God to go to medical school and pursue a career as a physician and ophthalmologist to help those who were suffering. 

 

He was married and had four children.  Although he had become a nationally renowned surgeon, he never denied his faith in Christ during the time of the Communist Revolution in 1917 and the difficult years that followed.  After the Atheistic government took over, Saint Luke refused to remove his icon of the Theotokos hanging on the wall of his operating room. 

 

Three times during his life he was sentenced to prison for his beliefs and was exiled to a remote region in Russia.  He took seriously the words of Christ spoken in today’s Gospel Reading: “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33). 

 

Saint Luke eventually was ordained to the priesthood and became a bishop after his wife had died, but he never stopped performing surgeries in addition to his pastoral duties as a priest and bishop. 

 

He was hardworking, full of love and compassion, and he was fearless. 

 

These are traits that will serve you well in your own academic and career pursuits:

 

  • Work hard: Most of you have learned the value of hard work in the classroom.  Embrace your hard work with a purpose to serve your fellow man and God 
    • St. Luke would spend his days serving the people as a bishop and surgeon and would write his scientific articles at night.  No matter how busy he was or how little sleep he got, he would always begin his morning with prayer and get himself in the right mindset to do God’s work and to offer his gifts for the benefit of others.

 

  • Do everything with love:  Don’t think only about yourself, but pursue a degree and a career that will allow you to serve God and your fellow man.  Don’t only think about working towards a lucrative career, but have in mind how your occupation can glorify God and benefit your neighbor, just as St. Luke did with his gifts and education. 

 

  • Lastly, be fearless:  Others may question or even ridicule you for your faith.  But remember always the words of Christ: “Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works (your good character, your strong work ethic, your clean language, your humble spirit) and they will glorify your Father in heaven.”  (Matt. 5:16).  
    • Just as St. Luke put his icon of the Theotokos in his operating room, put your icons in your dorm rooms, your offices, your place of business, and let them be a daily reminder of what’s most important in your life. 

 

On this All Saints Sunday, we are reminded that we are all called to become saints.  But in the life of St. Luke the Surgeon, we see that the path you are on right now is a path that can lead each of you to sainthood.   

 

As we see in the life of St. Luke, it means excelling in your studies, doing everything with the love of Christ and love for your neighbor as your greatest motivation, and being fearless in your faith. 

 

Work hard in the classroom, explore your vocations, choose your career path, and above all… with courage, always strive for holiness by serving your neighbor with a spirit of love and compassion, and glorify God in all that you do.  Amen.