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

Melchizedek is an impressive priest.  He blesses Abraham, which implies that even father Abraham is inferior to him.  This is an order that would be described as hieros, rather than the usual term used in the New Testament, presbuteros, and coms not by descent from Levi, but is an order that allows sacrifice to be offered from the rising of the sun to its setting.

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All of the Bible leads to the conclusion that God will come to be with us, but sin separates us from God. Sometimes we are tempted to downplay our sin, but that downplays God's holiness. We see God's holiness overpower many people in the Bible.

We also see that the Messiah is prophesied to have a priestly role, who will finally end sin by sacrifice of Himself, and that He would come in what we call now the first century AD. The Messiah, however, need not be a Levitical priest, but as we know, is a priest forever of the order of Melchizedek.

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We can be confident that God will save us if we call on His name, but salvation is a process, and is not a magical proclamation that assures us Heaven no matter how wicked we are in this life. We must rejoice in our hope and in our sufferings, and know that to the extent that we cooperate with God's grace, we are rewarded in the next life.

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Throughout all of biblical history, God has rewarded those who hope in Him. There are those who will deny the action of God in their lives, even as the Hebrews ignored the explicit miracles they saw in the times of the Exodus, but those who have a fear of the Lord or who have an expectation the Lord's grace in the world are praised in the Bible.

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In 2 Sam 7, David seeks to make a house for the Lord, but God declares that He will establish a house for Israel, a promise fulfilled in Christ.

Isaiah 7-12 concerns a prophecy to King Ahaz. A virgin or young woman will bear a son, and call him Immanuel, or God with us. This may have been a double prophecy, with multiple meanings, but it is clear that by the time of the translation of the Septuagint, the woman was considered to be a virgin. This is a promised heir to the throne of David.

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On Jacob's deathbed, he declares that Judah is the tribe from which a king will come. Similarly, Balaam prophesies that a king would come out of Jacob. Jer 31:31 prophesies a new covenant, and Isaiah prophesies a suffering servant whose life points to Christ. There are several covenants, those of creation, conscience, Noah, Abraham, the law, David, and the new covenant of Christ, each building on the other.

God has been willing to come to man and be intimately with us, as the word immanuel, God with us, implies, but the priesthood is instituted to keep us from transgressing, by holding us to the service of God, and acting as a buffer between man and the holy things.

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God promises to Abraham that through him, all the nations will bless themselves. God is so involved with man that He will even send an angel to wrestle with man, as Jacob does. We are told to not be unclean, and God will welcome us.

Through this time, we can see many Christophanies in the Old Testament: Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac, his chosen son, Melchizedek, the priest who offers sacrifice of bread and wine, the 3000 who died at the giving of the law prefiguring the 3000 saved at Pentecost.

It is through the promises of the Old Testament that the love of God, which will be fulfilled in the New Testament, is clear.

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Here begins a sweeping overview of salvation history.

God created man because of love. God wants a relation with man, and man gropes after God. Prov 8:17 says that those who seek God diligently find Him, and Hebrews says something very similar. Sin clouds our minds, but even in Genesis 3, God promises an end to this state. In the very next chapter, the sin of eating the fruit has become murder.

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From the Rochester NY Chesterton Society's 8th Annual Conference, Dale Ahlquist (President, American Chesterton Society) talks about the end of the world and how it factors into the world that God has created, a world of justice and peace, and a world that will undergo a revolution to conform it to God's plan. We must use our free will to be a part of this plan.  Whether or not you agree with every point touched on here, you will find this talk timely, provocative, and stimulating.

Visit the Rochester NY Chesterton Society's website at www.rochesterton.com.

See more from the American Chesterton Society at www.chesterton.org.

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In this recording from the 2011 Rochester NY Chesterton Conference, Hilaire Belloc (played by Kevin O'Brien) takes a sweeping overview of Christian history with a look at what he conceptualized as the five major heresies.

Arianism, one of the earliest great heresies, claims that Jesus was not God but a creature. St. Athanasius and some military victories dealt a blow to the heresy, but so did the rise of Islam.

Mohammedanism began as a heresy, as an oversimplified version of Catholicism, which denied the incarnation. It grew because of its promise of freedom from slavery and usury, and as recently as the 17th century, the Ottoman empire was trying to overrun Vienna.

Albigensianism is a heresy that claims that evil is as much a force as good, that all matter is of evil, and therefore that all matter and anything pleasurable must be eschewed.

Protestantism began as a reaction to correct abuses of the Church, but quickly added in ideas of John Calvin, who claimed that there was evil as part of the divine nature. This allowed people to accept evil in the world as part of divine will.

Modernism is a heresy that denies the supernatural and attacks truth, beauty and goodness. The result of this is the rise of slavery in other forms, as well as cruelty.

While the way in which these ideas are presented may at points seem dated (Belloc died in 1953), they remain thought-provoking. And more importantly, Kevin O'Brien's masterful performance of Belloc and his comments that follow illustrate the great potential of ''evangelization through drama,'' the mission of O'Brien's Theater of the Word.

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The Church can be divided into three parts: the Church Militant on Earth, the Church Triumphant in Heaven, and the Church Suffering in Purgatory. All parts of the Church are ceaselessly praying for each other, and it is through this prayer that God has chosen to place the vitality of the Church.

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Through the saving power of Jesus Christ, death has been turned from a curse into a blessing. It is important to emphasize that this is indeed a blessing and not simply a lack of curse. In Christ, we will have communion with all others who are in Christ. We must therefore pray for our brethren and pray for those who are in Purgatory. Never fear to pray for a lost cause, as no prayer is ever wasted. Likewise, we must share the gifts that God has given us one with another, for what charity we give benefits the whole Church, and what sin we commit harms the whole Church.

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The majority of the church fathers are of the opinion that more people, indeed more people claiming to be Christian, will be damned than saved. There is a minority who hold an opposing opinion. As overly-optimistic visions of Hell are not particularly helpful, so too are hellfire speeches which luridly describe the punishments of Hell are not useful. Prayer, however, is never wasted.

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There was a theory expounded by Origen, among others, that all would be saved, in some theories extending even to the Devil. While the Church has never officially ruled out the more moderate versions of this theory, the clear language of the Bible is very difficult to square with this belief.

Still, we do not know what God knows, and there is no reason not to pray that we might have hope for salvation for any particular soul, or for souls in general.

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Hell is not a pleasant subject, and some religions try to explain it away or ignore it entirely. How could a loving God commit any of his creation to unquenchable fire? The answer is that we choose it ourselves.

The damned have physical bodies, because the body helped commit the sins that damned the soul, so should the body participate in the punishment. Thus, we must take care to instruct our bodies to be virtuous, not corrupted by sin.

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God cannot be seen as He is unless He allows Himself to be seen, which is termed the beatific vision. This is an unapproachable light (1 Tim 6:16), but we expect to see face to face in Heaven (1 Cor 13:12, Ps 17:15).

The Catechism also tells us that we will reign in heaven, though obviously not over God, and this implies that Heaven is not a static place. Rev 22, even taken literally, tells us that Heaven will be an immense place, a place that cannot be on Earth as it is, and Rev 21 tells us that it will be a new place with no more sadness. Paul, in Rom 8, tells us that we are groaning to be part of this new creation. Jesus tells us that we must lay up treasure in Heaven. We also know that there will be gender in Heaven, as we are repeatedly told that there will be people of both specific sexes there.

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Despite the physicality of Heaven, we cannot expect carnality or a fleshliness there. 1 Cor 13:12 tells us that we will be face to face with God, and there cannot be any attachment to anything else when we are. Rev 22 tells us that we will have His name inscribed on our foreheads, such will be the communion with the Trinity in Heaven.

Section 1024f of the Catechism tells us that there will be many in Heaven, but it will not be to lose our identity to a corporate body. This does not means that there is no corporate body of the Church Triumphant, as Heaven is the community of all who are perfectly united in Christ, and Jn 15 speaks of us all as branches of Him, the true vine.

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Benedict XII tells us that those who have died and have been purified or are not in need of purification are in Heaven, even before the resurrection. This is a place of surpassing beauty and where we will be in a union of love with God without any mediation.

We must still be resurrected on the last day, since we were created to be a union of body and spirit, but Heaven is still a timeless part of our progress into our eternal reward. We know that there is some bodily component to Heaven, as some there, such as Moses and Mary, were assumed bodily into Heaven. The body there, however, will be different from our bodies here.

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Rev 21:27 says that nothing unclean shall enter Heaven, which is why it is necessary that there be a place where we are purified before we enter Heaven. 2 Maccabees explains that there must be a place, as there would be no sense in offering prayers for the dead otherwise. The Catechism, in section 1030ff, explains much about the doctrine of Purgatory. In Matt 12:31f, Jesus states that some things may be forgiven in the age to come, again providing evidence of forgiveness in the next life. Again, in Matt 5:23-26 and 18:18-35, Jesus tells us that we will never get out of our debt of sin until we have paid the last penny, implying that this place is not Hell, which no one will ever leave.

Aquinas tells us that the purgatorial fire is a purifying, rather than afflictive fire.  Mortal sin deprives us of communion with God, and this deprivation is eternal punishment in Hell. The suffering in Purgatory, on the other hand, is that of yearning for God, and it is not God's vengeance, and the Church has always commended almsgiving and prayers for those who are in Purgatory.

The Limbo of the unbaptized infants is something that scholars and saints have had myriad opinions on, with a variety of beliefs such as (1) unbaptized infants go to Hell, (2) that the infants go to Hell, but do not have the torments of Hell, (3) that they live on the edge of Heaven, a sort of limbo, or (4) that God will save unbaptized infants, and we should trust them to God's grace. It is not known for certain what the whole truth is, but even those who postulated Limbo believe that parents may save their children by desiring baptism for them.

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Even from Old Testament times, there have been writings of an intermediary place between Heaven and Earth, such as Wisdom 3, Psalms 6:5, 88:12, 94:17, Job 10:21f, Job 14:21 and these are confirmed by the saints, like St. Irenaeus. We know that this place has no knowledge of the world, but it is clear from I Sam 2:6, Job 26:6 and Psalms 86:13, 139:8 that God is still present in this place, and from Christ's statement that God is the God of the living, not of the dead.

One of these intermediary places is often called hell, taken from the Old English word for the place of the dead, but it is not the Hell of damnation. We know from scripture that Christ rose from the dead, which indicates that He had descended as savior and Christus Victor to the nether world to proclaim the Gospel to the just imprisoned there (see Jn 5:25, 1 Pet 3:18-20 and 1 Pet 4:6 as well as Sections 632f of the Catechism).

This harrowing takes place in time, even though it may seem to us as though it takes place in an instant and after this, Christ holds the keys of death and Hades. Jesus came to Earth, took on the flesh of one of His creation, like us, died like we do, and then, through rising, saves us (see also Heb 2:14-18).

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Immediately upon separation from our bodies in death, we undergo our own particular judgment, and the judgment and pronouncement of the sentence are given. The actual execution of the sentence occurs later at the Final Judgment when Christ comes again. Daniel 12 and John 5 give us evidence for this. We will know at the particular judgment the justness of the sentence, but not until the final judgement will we see the whole of God's plan.

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Wisdom tells us that ungodly people belong to death, but as Philippians 1 says, for the Christian, to live is Christ and death is gain. We would do well to remember that death, is the wages of sin, and that God's plan was to have man be immortal as God is. Death, however, has been transformed into a blessing by Christ. The saints also have much to say about the way to approach death.

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God promises to punish Molech, the god of the Ammonites, and those who worship it, but the Ammonites will be restored afterward, as they are relatives of the Israelites, descended from Lot. God will also punish the Edomites, who had a marauding culture, but their children and widows He will keep alive. Other nations also have judgments against them.

Babylon was used by God to exact judgment on Israel, but now that the judgment has been exacted, and the nations became drunk on the things that came from Babylon (which would be repeated in Revelation, chapters 17 and 18), and since Babylon does not have any good left in it, God will destroy it.

Jeremiah tells Seraiah to deliver a message that he had written down some time before, a message that contains all the things that would befall Babylon, and then to throw it into the Euphrates, to sink as Babylon would sink.

The Book of Jeremiah reminds us that we must be careful to listen to what God is saying, and to be prepared to act on it.

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After God promises to punish Egypt, he promises to punish the Philistines, whose people were very advanced, possessing the ability to forge iron. God will punish them for the taking of the Ark of the Covenant, many, many years ago. Moab will also be punished for pride. In all of these cases, the true God is attacking the false gods. It is worthy of note that the language here echoes Numbers 21:27ff.

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The last few chapters of Jeremiah are rich in wordplay and in detail, and in some ways are like an entirely different book. There are many pronouncements made against Egypt, which has often been used to mean the world at large, but pride of worldly power is singled out for particular condemnation.

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The word of the Lord comes to Jeremiah, and he tells those who escaped to Egypt that Nebuchadnezzar will conquer them and they will not come back. Those who have worshiped false gods, and who have taken wives who brought in worship of false gods, like the goddess Astarte, known as the queen of Heaven, have left God.  King Hophra of Egypt was already having trouble before Nebuchadnezzar came against him, and he would indeed fall a little while later.

Some use criticism of this false god to impugn veneration of Mary, the mother of God. Certainly, we must make absolutely sure that the honor, which is never to be worship, given to the saints is infinitely lower than the proper worship of God. Worship of any creature would be a sin. We do, however, have the ability to ask any living person to pray for us, and similarly, we may ask those who are in Heaven to do the same for us.

Nothing more is said of Jeremiah at this point, but there is more to come in the book, including the letter of Jeremiah to Baruch.

God saw Judah falling away and decided to give Judah a test, which Judah failed, and thus He chastised them. How do you respond to the challenges that God gives to you?

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Jeremiah is cared for in Babylon, and Gedaliah is left as governor of Judah, since he did not go with the rebellion, and since he was not taken to Babylon. A marauder named Ishmael plots to kill Gedaliah, and since Gedaliah won't take efforts to stop him, Ishmael does kill him and all those who were with him. A while later, eighty other pilgrims come to give offerings in the temple, and Ishmael kills all of them, except for some who gave up their hiding places. Ishmael takes captives and flees toward the Ammonites, but Johanan recovers all the captives.

Johanan then wants to go into Egypt and seeks Jeremiah's approval, and Jeremiah prays to God for guidance. God tells him not to go, but Johanan seems to have already made up his mind and goes into Egypt anyway.

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Some in the military hear the words of Jeremiah, and they plot to silence Jeremiah. King Zedekiah, like Pontius Pilate later, lets them do what they will. They put Jeremiah into a cistern and left him to die until Ebed-melech, a eunuch, comes to the defense of Jeremiah. Jeremiah is rescued, and Zedekiah asks Jeremiah to tell him the truth, and Jeremiah tells him to surrender. Zedekiah is afraid to do that.

There is a breach in the city walls, and the city falls. The king and his men sneak out, but they are caught. Jerusalem is destroyed. All the people are carried off to Babylon except the poorest of the poor. Ebed-melech will be saved from his enemies.

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The Babylonians approach Israel, and the people prepare for the attack. Extrabiblical accounts of this time exist in the Lachish Letters.

At this time, some people make a sacred covenant to free their slaves, possibly as a cost-cutting measure, but when the impending army seems to be less of a threat, these people break their sacred covenant and take back their slaves.

Jeremiah wrote down all the words that God had told him, and ordered Baruch to read them to those assembled in the temple. Jehoiakim burns the scroll containing those words. After this, the king seeks out Jeremiah and asks him what will happen and what ca be done at this point. Jeremiah tells him that there is nothing that can be done, and Babylon will capture Judah.

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God declares again that He will restore both Israel and Judah, and declares that the king will be from their own, as opposed to being ruled from outside, and God will bring him near, as opposed to him daring to approach God. Even Samaria will come back to Zion.

Jeremiah prophesies consolation for God's people after the exile, even the priests whom he has often prophesied hardship. The people will mourn for what has happened, and there is a prophecy about the slaughter of the innocents by Herod.

Jeremiah also prophesies that there will be a new covenant, one based on forgiveness, that God will usher in.

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Hananiah proclaims that Babylon will be defeated within two years and the things that they ave stolen from the temple will be restored. Jeremiah says that this is not what the true prophets have prophesied about before, and that the people should not believe Hananiah's words until they come true. Hananiah would die shortly thereafter.

Jeremiah tells the people not to wait to start families and prepare for their return, as the return will not come quickly. Jeremiah also talks about the bleak future for the false prophets and their families during those years.

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Jeremiah prophesies in the Temple that the Temple will be sacked, and the priests and false prophets want to kill Jeremiah for it, but the people are persuaded that if they do kill Jeremiah, and he is a prophet, they will have innocent blood on their hands. There is precedent among the prophets for this in Micah and a counterexample in Uriah.

Jeremiah puts a yoke on his neck to warn the people of the subjugation Judah will experience, and to tell the envoys of Judah's neighbors that they must all submit to Babylon or die. The vessels of the Temple, which the false prophets are predicting will come back, are in fact, gone until God restores them.

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Jeremiah pronounces judgment on Jehoiachin and criticizes all the kings but Josiah. He also refers to the entire people returning to Israel, as well as a righteous branch of David who will rule there. This is a messianic prophecy, and it refers to Jesus. Jeremiah goes after the false prophets as well.

Jeremiah is shown a basket of figs, some good and some bad. These figs are like the people of Israel, and God will restore them to the land. The bad people, however, will be treated like bad figs by God.

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Jeremiah sees a potter whose clay has not turned out the way he wanted to, and God uses this to explain his actions. God will rework Israel into a different type of vessel if Israel will change its path, which Paul would echo in 2 Timothy 2:20-21. This does not match what the priests and false prophets were saying at the time, but those people, both then and now are not guaranteed to proclaim what is in the Bible and the catechism. Jeremiah shatters a flask to emphasize the analogy.

Jeremiah is placed in stocks by Pashur son of Immer, and the people seek to kill Jeremiah, for prophesying things like Israel will be captured, but people will die unless they surrender. Even Jeremiah's own family is against him, and Jeremiah is despairing more than at any other point in the Bible.

At this point, the timeline is interrupted and goes back to the reign of Josiah.

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Jeremiah is distressed by the fact that the people are against him, and has no wife to comfort him in his distress, since children would not be safe in this time. Jeremiah prophesies that if Jerusalem keeps the Sabbath, kings will rule in Jerusalem and people will come bearing offerings, but if they do not keep the Sabbath, the city will be consumed by fire.

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God tells the people of Israel and the surrounding nations that they will be conquered, but Israel will be restored, as well as any nation that will worship God as other nations have convinced Israel to worship Baal. Any nation that does not do this will be destroyed.

There is an extended section of visions told in a parabolic form next. Jeremiah is told to bury a waistcloth, a piece of intimate apparel, and then to dig it up, finding it spoiled. This is analagous to Israel, who was designed to be intimate to God, who now has become spoiled. God also likens the people to clay pots filled with wine, as God will fill the priests, prophets and kings with drunkenness, and he will dash the pots together. Jeremiah then begins a long section of comparisons of what will happen to Israel, it will weep when the Lord's flock are taken into exile, as well as the king and the queen mother, who will be brought low, the nation will be raped, and they will be like chaff.

Jeremiah asks that God might have mercy, since He is in their midst in the Ark of the Covenant in the temple. God says that He will not. Jeremiah also protests that the people are not listening to him but rather the false prophets who are preaching prosperity. Contrary to what they are saying, the drought and famine will come.

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Jeremiah embraces the book of the law that was discovered, the book of Deuteronomy. Meredith Klein, in ''The Treaty of the Great King'', says that Deuteronomy follows a well-defined formula of a Hittite treaty from a subject to his ruler. These treaties go over the history of the relationship, the conditions of the treaty, and the consequences of breaking it. (Some of these curses can be found in Deuteronomy 27).

Jeremiah takes the people to task for failing to meet that covenant, and his kinsmen turn on Jeremiah. It can be confusing at times to read as it is unclear if it is Jeremiah or God speaking, and some sections of things to come are described as having happened already, as God's assurance that they will happen is every bit as real as having been completed already.  Even though God will punish the people for their infidelity, God promises that He will have compassion on them.

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The Lord tells His people that if they circumcise their hearts as Moses told them to do in Deuteronomy 10:16, they will be able to return to the land. Jeremiah protests to the Lord that He is deceving the people: we know from 2 Thessalonians that God can allow the people to be deceived.

The people had been led astray by the priests (the tradition of being led astray by those claiming religious authority continues in some quarters down until today), but they would have to be reconciled to God by themselves.

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God recalls when Israel came into the land out of Egypt and how He dealt harshly with those who would dare to touch His people, the first fruits of the harvest. Unfortunately, Israel became dissolute. The people carried on the religious ceremonies despite God not being in the ceremonies, and the people didn't even ask where God was.

The Israelites did not seek refuge in God when the nation was threatened; they sought protection from Egypt, who liked to exact a terrible price from their beneficiaries later. Jeremiah says that Israel's unfaithfulness is as bad as a prostitute's. Even the faithless Samaritans were not as guilty as Israel, who should have known better.

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Josiah, at age 8, came to the throne, and showed signs of clear piety by his teens. During the time of his reign, there was a lack of competing power in the area, giving Josiah room to make needed reforms.

Josiah cleansed the temple, and the priests discovered the book of the law there, which had been neglected. Josiah elevated the Passover to a great festival, and Huldah prophesies that those who participated in these reforms would die before seeing the judgment on Judah.

Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah, was born of a well-to-do priestly family around 646 BC. Unlike even priests and nazirites, he was forbidden to marry or even to be at celebrations.

Jeremiah's opponents plot his demise and ultimately, King Zedekiah declares that he will not oppose killing Jeremiah. After the Babylonians conquer Israel, the Babylonians offer to take Jeremiah back to Babylon because he said not to oppose them, but Jeremiah did not accept.

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Jeremiah is called to prophecy when he was preparing for the priesthood around age 20, in the reign of King Josiah, the great reformer. Jeremiah is reluctant and protests that he does not know how to speak, but God tells him that He watches over His words, but does not hide from Jeremiah that this will take many years, which will turn out to be forty years. Under Josiah, Jeremiah is somewhat protected, but ultimately, the Babylonians capture Judah, and Jeremiah joins his kinsmen in captivity.

The Northern tribes of Israel had had a line of non-Davidic kings and had created two false sanctuaries in Bethel and Dan.

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After Jesus appears to the apostles, they tell Thomas, who had been apart from them following the crucifixion, that they have seen Jesus, but Thomas, cynical, does not believe. Jesus then appears to the apostles again with Thomas, who does believe is very deeply moved. Jesus tells Thomas that he has believed because he has seen, but those who have not seen but still believe (those reading the gospel) are blessed.

The last chapter, an epilogue, describes few disciples going to fish at a later time. They catch nothing, but Jesus appears on the beach and tells them to cast their net on the other side. The disciples receive a large catch of fish, and Jesus asks them to share it with Him. Jesus has brought some bread and fish, which echoes the feeding for the multitude and the Eucharist.

Jesus then asks three times if Peter loves Him. Three times Peter has denied Jesus, and now three times he declares he loves Him. Each time, Jesus tells Peter to care for Jesus's flock. Jesus also makes reference to how Peter will die.

The gospel ends with a postscript to the 21st chapter that appears to have been written by the scribe.

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Mary Magdalene visits the tomb of Jesus with some others, saying, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." John and Peter go to visit the tomb, and John sees the state of the burial cloths and believes.

Mary sees two angels in the tomb, and Jesus reveals Himself to Mary, much like He reveals Himself to the apostles on the road to Emmaus. Jesus tells Mary not to hold onto Him, sending her to tell the apostles, whom He calls His brothers even as he has just risen from the dead. Jesus then visits the apostles, greets them with His peace, and with the Holy Spirit, gives them a commission to absolve people's sins.

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Peter comes to the palace where Jesus is being tried, and denies that he knows Him three times, as Christ prophesied. Christ is brought to Pilate, who finds no guilt. Pilate tries to send Jesus back to be punished by the Jews, but they refuse, as there is a law preventing them from executing Him, but they must see Jesus executed for declaring Himself the Son of God. The people lodge a complaint that Jesus declared Himself to be a king, which forces Pilate to act.

Pilate offers to release Jesus, giving the crowd a choice between Him and Barabbas, a notorious bandit. The crowd prefers to release Barabbas, but Pilate has Jesus flogged, thinking that that would satisfy the crowd.

It does not, and Jesus is crucified. Jesus carries His own cross to His execution, and He dies between two criminals. The death comes quickly, and He is quickly prepared for burial, as the Sabbath is approaching. Meanwhile, men divide His garments and cast lots for His tunic, which was seamless, much like that of the High Priest.

Direct download: John09b.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Jesus and His disciples go into the Kidron Valley to the garden of Gethsemane, where they are met with a large number of soldiers. Jesus confronts the soldiers, finds out that they are looking for Jesus, and declares "I am," echoing the the fact that He is God.

The soldiers come to take Jesus away and He tells them to let the disciples go. This was to fulfill what Jesus said in John 17, showing that John gives Jesus' words the same weight as the Old Testament prophets.

Peter strikes a soldier on the ear, but Jesus tells him to but his sword back, healing the man.

Jesus is taken to Annas, but does not testify on his behalf, simply stating that He had been preaching publicly, and that if they want to know His teaching, they need only summon witnesses. Jesus is then taken to Caiaphas, who finds Him guilty of blasphemy and sends Jesus to Pilate for trial based on treason or sedition.

Direct download: John09a.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Jesus repeats his final command: love. Through a long explanation, Jesus declares His love for His disciples and explains that He must go away, but that He will return. Once more, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will come, proceeding through the Son. Jesus also explains that some in the world will try to hurt the disciples. After this, He prays to His Father that we would be preserved from a host of threats and from the evil one.

Direct download: John08b.mp3
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Jesus calls himself the true vine, which calls to mind the imagery of Psalm 80[79], and He states that His Father is the vinedresser, who will prune away the branches that do not bear fruit. Thus, we must accept and grow the fruit that God is giving us. If we do not take the discipline that God requires of us and prove that we are His disciples, we will be eating and drinking judgment on ourselves in the Eucharist.

Jesus speaks to each of us in the whole of the Last Supper, saying that He wants to love you specifically and that He wants you in particular to be full of His joy.

Direct download: John08a.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

At the Passover feast, Judas is already preparing to betray Jesus. Jesus takes off His outer robe and washes the feet of His disciples. Such washing by the master is unheard of in the tradition of ritual washing.

Even knowing the betrayal, and the prophecy from Psalm 41 that Jesus will be betrayed by an intimate friend, Jesus is hurt by the knowledge of Judas' sin. Jesus gives Judas the morsel, a piece of honor at the Passover feast, asking Judas to do what he will do.

Judas leaves, and Jesus tells them that He is now glorified, but that the apostles cannot follow where He is going.  Jesus then gives a new commandment, that they love one another as He has loved them.  Peter protests that He wants to follow Him, and Jesus prophesies that Peter will betray Him that very night.

Several apostles have objections or comments now, and Jesus uses these as an opportunity to explain His relationship with the Father and promise the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus also tells the other Judas that those who love Him keep His commandments, reinforcing a theme that John has developed in his gospel.

Direct download: John07b.mp3
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Jesus goes to Bethany, which becomes His base of operations, and there, Martha anoints His feet with costly oil. Jesus lets her do it, saying that she is preparing His body for burial. Judas thinks that the money should have been given to the poor, and plans to betray Jesus.

Jesus then enters Jerusalem on an ass, like a peaceful king. Jesus, who had said all along that His time had not yet come, declares that His time has now come. Jesus is troubled by the coming trauma of taking on the sins of humanity.

Direct download: John07a.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Some Jews come to ask Jesus to plainly declare Himself the Christ, but He tells them what He already said, but they take up stones because Jesus makes Himself out to be God. Jesus tells them that they do the same thing when they use the title of God for their religious.

Jesus then hears that Lazarus has died. He stays for two more days and then returns Judea to Lazarus' home. Thomas cynically suggests that they will be going to their deaths by returning to Judea, as well.

When Jesus visits the family and sees Lazarus' tomb, He starts to cry, overcome with emotion despite the knowledge that He will raise Lazarus soon. Jesus then tells the people to take away the stone, cries out with a loud voice, and raises Lazarus, who had been dead for four days.

Hearing of this, the Pharisees seek to kill Jesus.

Direct download: John06b.mp3
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Jesus tells the parable of the Good Shepherd, which recalls Zechariah 11, Ezekiel 34, and Malachi 2. A father must feed his children first, and likewise the priests must tend their flocks before themselves.

Jesus uses an example of sheep who come to the shepherd's name to explain Himself. He is the gate for the sheep, and while a hireling would abandon his flock, the good shepherd will not. Jesus will put his life down voluntarily to save His flock, and He will pick it up again. This is something that only God can do, and those who hear Him say it understand the implications of such statements.

Direct download: John06a.mp3
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Jesus and the authorities get into a heated argument. Jesus tells them that He knows the will of the Father, and that the authorities do not. Jesus then says that Abraham saw His day, and that before Abraham was, I am, referring to the name of God. The authorities then take up stones against Jesus, but He escapes.

Jesus then heals a man born blind, but the Pharisees question the man, who tells them that Jesus did it on the Sabbath, and defends Jesus. The Pharisees throw the man out, who goes and becomes a disciple of Jesus, who tells him that He is the Son of Man.

Direct download: John05b.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

John 8 begins with the narrative of the woman caught in adultery. This section, while an authentic eyewitness account of the Gospel, was probably not written by John, since early manuscripts attached it to different gospels or different parts of John, but it was too important to be left out of the Gospel altogether.

Jesus proclaims that He is the Light of the world. Darkness is used to denote that which is not of God throughout the Bible. Psalms 27, 36, 119, Numbers 6, and Isaiah 49 correlate light with God and God's gift of life. The Pharisees object that Jesus has not confirmed His testimony by another witness, a legal procedure. Jesus states that His testimony is confirmed even if He states it Himself, since He does not judge, but rather the Father.

Jesus then speaks of His death, but the Pharisees do not understand. Jesus tells them that they will understand when He is lifted up, which refers to His crucifixion.

Direct download: John05a.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST