St. Irenaeus Ministries
Scripture Studies brought to you by the St. Irenaeus Center.
St. Irenaeus Ministries - a center of orthodox Catholic mission and renewal in Rochester, NY

Following the Presentation Luke omits the flight into Egypt and focuses on Jesus' upbringing in Nazareth. He emphasizes that throughout this time "Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man".

The childhood of Jesus has serious Christological implications. The Gnostic Gospels show Jesus acting on a whim but the Scriptures attest that Christ did nothing in his life unless it was the will of His Father.

At age 12 Jesus entered the Temple on his own two feet. After his parents left the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. On the third day of searching Mary and Joseph found him in the Temple "sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers". Though his actions may seem rebellious, they were not. "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" Even at 12 Jesus was fully aware of His unique identity as the Son of God.

With Mary, we do well to pray through the childhood narrative of Luke, 'keeping all these things in our hearts.' Only after many prayerful readings will we begin to appreciate the life of God incarnate, the redeemer of every aspect of our humanity.

Direct download: Luke03b.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:13pm EST

The study begins with the controversy regarding the census that sent Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem and the dating of the birth of Christ. The historical reading of the historian Josephus is that Herod died in 4 B.C. and thus it is logical for Christ's birth to be sometime before that. Although some favor 6 B.C. as Christ's birth year, modern readings of Josephus push his death up to around 1 B.C. and complicate the matter. Because "history is a history of fragments," both the issue of Christ's birth year and the verification of Quirinius' governorship during the census are more difficult to verify than many realize.

Luke 2:2 speaks of the census that compels Joseph to travel to Bethlehem as " the first census that took place when Quirinius was governor of Syria." After looking at the career of Quirinius and the writings of the Early Christian Tertullian, however, it appears that he was neither governor during the time that Luke dates the birth of Christ nor would Quirinius have authority to carry out a census within Herod's territory. It seems Luke may be referring to a different census or that his definition of a census is different than that of the writers of history in his age. In the end, we have no sufficient evidence to either verify that Luke is historically correct in this or prove a clear contradiction against Luke's depiction and dating of the census.

The rest of this session focuses on the Christmas story and on the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.

Direct download: Luke03a.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:28pm EST

In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sends the mighty Archangel Gabriel to Mary, announcing that this "virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David," will conceive and bear a son, Jesus (LK 1:26-28). He specifically chooses this Holy Virgin for an absolutely amazing vocation: to be the mother of the Messiah, the instrument through whom the infinite God becomes incarnate.

Great will be his dignity and he will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over the house of Jacob forever and his reign will be without end. (32-33)

In this child, the Messianic Kingdom of David will emerge as "the stone [...] hewn from the mountain without a hand" that shatters all the kingdoms of this world forever and rules for eternity (Daniel2:44). According to the tradition of the historic Davidic court, the Queen mother holds a prominence in the King's life. This is all the more true of relationship between Jesus and Mary.

The study then shifts to how God has provided a safe place for the virgin to spend her pregnancy, for her parents and neighbors would have thought Mary was crazy or might even have handed her over to be stoned according to the Law. Moreover, because God makes Mary's pregnancy known to Elizabeth, Mary does not have to convince her cousin that she is to pregnant with the Savior.

Analyzing the Magnificat reveals that this simple, tender-hearted young woman possessed a deeply intimate knowledge of Scripture (Lk 46-55).Her Canticle is a wonderful bouquet of many Psalms and the writings of the Prophets which mirrors the Canticle of Hannah in 1 Samuel. The implications of Mary's prayer are truly astounding, as is the connection between Samuel and John/Jesus. The Canticle of Zechariah is similarly profound and Luke purposefully includes this prophecy from the once-mute father of John that alludes to Malachi.

The study concludes with a look at the preparatory nature of God, who not only profoundly prepares the way for his Son, but also opens the doors of our hearts and is even now preparing us to be a people transformed according to his divine plan – if we but let him in.

Direct download: Luke02b.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:47pm EST

Starting at Luke 1:5, this session focuses on the man God destined to "prepare the way of the Lord," John the Baptist (Is 40:3). He is the long-awaited son of the Zechariah the priest of Abijah and the barren Elizabeth, an elderly couple who were "blameless before the Lord, following all this commandments and ordinances" (Lk 1:6)

The so-called "Little Annunciation" refers to Luke 1:8-22, when the Archangel Gabriel appears to Zechariah in the Temple and announces that Elizabeth will conceive of John. As he towers over Zechariah before the Altar of Insence, Gabriel proclaims that John will not only be a Nazirite who lives according to the ordinances of Numbers 6, but he will "be filled with the Holy Spirit" from his mother's womb and will fulfil the prophecies of the end of the Book of Malachi and Sirach 48:10. Moreover, he will
"turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before Him in the spirit of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared."

When Zechariah questions the messenger of God, he is struck mute until John's birth for his lack of faith, but his tongue loosens at the remarkable naming of his son. Now eight days old, John has been the talk of the hill country of Judah for five months, for some of his neighbors marvel at him, others are frightened and all ask "What then will this child be?"

Simply put, John is the greatest of all the prophets who effectively sums up all the prophets and a saint of saints. All four Gospels begin with John the Baptist as the herald and preparer for Christ. Intentionally consecrated for divine intervention, John is filled with the Holy Spirit from within his mother's womb. The first prophet in 400 years, his ministry of baptism and repentance was unique in all of Judaism quickly attracts the attention of all of Israel.

Baptizing thousands primarily in the Jordan he even extends his ministry to the Samaritans and is later captured ministering in the Northern country. His extraordinarily radical message condemns the government for its injustice towards the poor and indicts the corruption within the priestly leadership. Underscoring the presence of grace and divine design in John's life, Jesus chooses not to begin his ministry full-throttle until after John's death.

John's ministry is relevant even today, for we must continue to prepare the way of the Lord and do whatever possible to prepare ourselves and our people for salvation by repenting and entering into the treasures of our Baptism.

Direct download: Luke02a.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:36pm EST

Part 2 of the introduction to Luke.  See last week's (updated) show notes for a full description.
Direct download: Luke01b.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:20am EST