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It is our job, our duty to spread HIS word.. part of our baptismal vows..

SIX YEARS SPARKING!!

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6/16/13 6:20 A

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Week 25 Pt 2
LUKE 24:1-53
KEY VERSE: "He is not here, but he has been raised." (v.6)
TO STUDY: The resurrection narrative in Luke's Gospel begins at daybreak on the "first day of the week" (Sunday). The women who came to anoint Jesus' body were asked by the angels why they sought the "living one among the dead" (v 5). Jesus was not dead; he had been raised! These women, the first witnesses of the resurrection, obeyed the angels' command and announced the glorious news to the disciples. Just as Jesus was born from the virgin womb of Mary, Jesus was reborn from the virgin tomb in which he was laid.
Returning from their Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem, two disciples discussed the meaning of the events they had witnessed there. As they sadly walked along, the risen Christ appeared to them on their journey, but they mistook him for another pilgrim. They told the "stranger" that although Jesus was a mighty prophet, their hopes and dreams that "he was the one to redeem Israel" (Lk 24:21) were shattered at the crucifixion. They also told him of the rumor that some women went to the tomb and found it empty, but the apostles dismissed their story as nonsense. Jesus listened to their anguished tale, and then explained that everything that had been written about him in the "law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms" (v 44) had revealed God's plan . These three divisions are the Jewish scriptures: the Law "Torah," the Prophets "Nebi'im," and the Writings "Kethubim" (acronym: "TaNaK"). Although Jesus often told his disciples that he would suffer, die and rise from the dead, their minds had been closed to the idea of a suffering Messiah. Jesus declared that it was necessary that the Messiah should suffer so as to enter glory. At nightfall, the disciples urged Jesus to stay and share a meal with them. Though the disciples’ eyes had been closed to Jesus’ presence, they recognized him "in the breaking of the bread" (v 35). Unable to keep the good news to themselves, they hastened back to Jerusalem with great joy and reported to the apostles. There they discovered that the the risen Christ had also appeared to Simon Peter. While they were still speaking, Christ appeared in their midst and proclaimed "Peace" (v 36). He assured the terrified disciples that he was not a ghost. When he invited them to touch him, and asked for food, the disciples were overjoyed.
Luke ended his gospel with the ascension, and then began the Acts of the Apostles, his account of the early Church. When the risen Christ appeared to his disciples for the last time, he opened their minds to understand God's plan foretold in the scriptures. His disciples were witnesses of his passion, death and resurrection. Now they would become "apostles," that is, those sent forth in the power of Christ's name to proclaim the gospel. The apostles would not testify to this truth on their own; the Spirit would "clothe" them with "power from on high" (v 49, Acts 2:1-4). After Jesus blessed them and was taken to heaven, the disciples returned to Jerusalem where they awaited this promise with great joy. Though Jesus is physically absent from us, he continues to be with us on all of life’s journeys in the Word and Eucharist.
REFLECTION: To whom do I need to announce the good news? Risen Lord, send forth your Spirit to renew me with love and joy.


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6/16/13 6:19 A

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WEEK 25, PT 1
LUKE 22:1:39 ― 23:56
KEY VERSE: "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing" (v 34).
TO STUDY: In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was the new Adam whose faithful obedience restored humanity to its right relationship with God. Jesus was betrayed by one of his own. There is often speculation as to why Judas betrayed Jesus.

1) It has been suggested that "Iscariot" means "man of Kerioth," if so, Judas was the only non-Galilean among the apostles. It may be that he felt himself outside the inner circle.

2) "Iscariot" is a form of a Greek word which means a dagger-bearer. The "dagger-bearers" were a band of nationalists prepared to undertake assassination in order to set Palestine free. When Judas saw that Jesus rejected violence, he may have turned against him and betrayed him.

3) It may be that Judas did it out of greed for money. John said that Judas “kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it” [Jn 12:6]. Judas sold his Lord for thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave.

4) It is likely that Judas never meant Jesus to die but betrayed him with the intention of forcing his hand. If so, Judas saw his plan go wrong, and in his bitter remorse committed suicide. However it may be, Judas went down in history as the name for a betrayer.

When Jesus was arrested, his companions attempted to defend him with a sword. Jesus told them that when they fought evil with evil, evil always won. Jesus was put on trial and charged with sedition for claiming to be a king, the Messiah. Pilate could find no fault with him, and he offered to release either Jesus or the rebel Barabbas in order to pacify the people. The crowds demanded that Barabbas, whose name means "son of the father," be released in place of Jesus, the true Son of the Father. Jesus carried his cross to "Calvary" or the "Skull Place" ("Golgotha" in Aramaic). There he was crucified between two thieves. One of the men reviled Jesus. The second criminal confessed his own guilt and asked to be remembered when Jesus came into his kingdom. Jesus assured the condemned man that he would receive salvation that very day. Over Jesus' head was an inscription: "This is the King of the Jews" (Latin: INRI - Iesus Nazorean Rex Iudaeorum). Jesus died forgiving his enemies, and commended his soul into the hands of his loving Father. The people watched, the rulers sneered, and the soldiers mocked him saying, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, the chosen one" (v. 35). Jesus did not come to save himself, but to save the world. Jesus would "pass over" from life to death and to life again. What seemed to be a defeat in the eyes of the world was a victory in God's sight.
REFLECTION: Have I ever betrayed Jesus by my failure to live and act as he did?
Note: Jesus prayed to his Father to forgive those who acted out of ignorance. Peter said to the people and Pentecost, "I know that you acted in ignorance" (Acts 3:17). And later Paul said that they crucified Jesus because they did not know him (Acts 13:27). Others may sin in ignorance; but we who have Christ's Spirit must forgive as he forgave. The crimes during the Passion of Christ cannot be attributed to all Jews of that time, nor to Jews today. The Jewish people should not be referred to as though rejected or cursed, as if this view followed from Scripture. The Church ever keeps in mind that Jesus, his mother Mary, and the Apostles all were Jewish. As the Church has always held, Christ freely suffered his passion and death because of the sins of all, that all might be saved. -- Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs


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WEEK 24, PT 2
LUKE 22:1-38
KEY VERSE: "This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me" (22:19).
TO STUDY: The Feast of Unleavened Bread was not, strictly speaking, the same thing as the Passover. The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasted for a week, from 15th to 21st of Nisan (April), and the Passover itself was eaten on Nisan 15th. Passover commemorated the deliverance of the people of Israel from their slavery in Egypt (Ex 12). On that night the angel of death smote the first-born son in every Egyptian family, but passed-over the homes of the Israelites, because the lintels of their doors were smeared with the blood of the lamb to distinguish them. On that night they left so quickly that there was no time to bake bread with leaven. So they ate it unleavened.

Every male Jew, who was of age and who lived within 15 miles of Jerusalem, was bound by law to attend the Passover. Because of this, vast numbers came to Jerusalem at the Passover time. The atmosphere of Passover time was always inflammable. The headquarters of the Roman government was at Caesarea, and normally only a small detachment of troops was stationed at Jerusalem. But at Passover many more were brought into the city. The problem that faced the Jewish authorities was how to arrest Jesus without provoking a riot. It was solved for them by the treachery of Judas.

Jesus did not leave things until the last moment; his plans were already made. The better class houses had two rooms, one room on the top of the other. The upper room was reached by an outside staircase. Jesus had taken steps to procure such a room. He sent Peter and John into the city to look for a man bearing a jar of water. A man carrying a jar of water would be as easy to pick out as carrying water was a woman's task.

Jesus gave He said of the bread, "This is my body ― This is my blood." In this ordinary act of eating bread and drinking wine, Jesus gave new meaning to the ancient symbols of the feast. The bread and wine became his body and blood, the sacrament of Eucharist. A sacrament is something that has a meaning far beyond itself for those who have eyes to see and a heart to believe.

As Jesus celebrated his last supper with his disciples, they argued over who would be the greatest in God's kingdom. Jesus taught them that love, not power, must be the foundation of their relationships. True leadership was not autocratic, like kings where one individual ruled from the top. In Christian ministry, the leaders would find themselves next to the ones whom they served. By demonstrating this through his own servant leadership, Jesus brought his disciples back to the central point. His followers were called to exercise their gifts in community by serving one another.
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WEEK 24, PT 1
LUKE 21:1-38
KEY VERSE: "The days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down" (v 6).
TO STUDY: Luke wrote his gospel after the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 CE. The Temple was the center of Jewish life, and Israel believed that as long as it stood they were secure. As Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he observed a poor widow putting two mites (lepta, the smallest coins in circulation) into the treasury box. The widow gave every penny she had to live on, and placed her hope and trust in God. The charity of this lowly woman stood in sharp contrast to the religious leaders who loved to be honored and respected for their generosity, yet failed to carry out the law that required them to care for God's poor (Lk 20:45-47). Jesus said that the woman's gift was worth more than the larger offerings of those who gave from their surplus wealth. The woman represents all the poor, the "anawim," who humbly depend upon God to supply their needs.
Like Jeremiah, Jesus warned against putting faith in an earthly edifice (Jer 7:4-7). He told the people who were admiring the magnificent Temple that one day it would be reduced to rubble. Many believed the destruction of the Temple would be a sign heralding the end of the age (Dn 9:24-27). Jesus' disciples must not be misled by this false messiahs, nor by those who pointed to wars and cosmic signs as proof that the final age had Jesus said that these events were just birth pangs of suffering that would occur in every age. What Jesus' disciples must expect was to share in his passion, the sign that should mark the life of every Christian, the 'sign of the cross.' Jesus' disciples must be prepared to testify to their faith in times of suffering and trial. They would be persecuted by religious and political leaders and even members of their own families. They need not be concerned as to how they would defend themselves. They must trust in Jesus' divine presence as they faithfully witnessed to the gospel. The martyrs who chose to suffer or die rather than give up their faith are considered by the church to have given the supreme "witness" (Greek, martur). Just as the certainty of Jesus' words would be accomplished, so too, their final redemption was assured.
Jesus exhorted his disciples not to be anxious, but to pray for the strength to endure the coming trials, and to be ever vigilant of his arrival (Greek, parousia). Jeremiah used the example of the budding almond tree (the "watching tree," Jer 1:11), the first tree to bloom in Springtime, to predict the coming destruction of Jerusalem in his own time. Similarly, Jesus used the budding of the fig tree to illustrate the coming reign of God. Jesus told his disciples that the first signs of the kingdom's nearness would be witnessed by their own generation probably the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE. Those who heeded his words fled across the Jordan to the city of Pella. The Jews of Jerusalem regarded this desertion as traitorous, and it marked a significant break between Christianity and Judaism. Jerusalem would be "trampled" by non-believers until the "times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (v 24), an indefinite period from the beginning of the church's missionary activity until the final coming of Christ. Jesus' disciples should not to fear the end of time, but should put their faith and trust in the one who has dominion over all time. Heaven and earth might pass away, but Jesus' word will endure; he is God's eternal Word.
REFLECTION: Do I stand firm in faith despite world upheavals? Am I alert to the signs of Christ's presence in my life?


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6/16/13 6:16 A

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Week 23, Pt 2
LUKE 20:27-47
KEY VERSE: "He is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive" (v 38).
TO STUDY: The Sadducees were the priestly aristocracy within Judaism. They influenced the operation of the Temple and the Jewish legislative body, the Sanhedrin. Although they joined with the Pharisees in their opposition to Jesus, they differed in their beliefs. The Sadducees only accepted the Torah, the written law, and rejected the Pharisaic oral tradition such as the resurrection of the dead. A group of Sadducees tried to entrap Jesus by asking a question about the levirate marriage practice (Dt 25:5-10). According to that law if a man died childless, his brother must marry the widow and beget children to carry on the line. The Sadducees proposed an absurd situation in which seven brothers married the same woman in succession all leaving her childless at their deaths. Then they sarcastically asked Jesus whose wife would the woman be in the supposed resurrection. While they meant to ridicule the belief in the resurrection, Jesus silenced his adversaries by revealing their ignorance of the scriptures. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, their ancestors in faith, were all eternally alive in God (Ex 3:6), as were all who had faith. These religious leaders must forfeit their position as teachers. Jesus was the authentic interpreter of God's word. Our relationship with him should transcend all earthly ones.
In the apocalyptic* book of Daniel, the "Son of Man" (Aramaic, bar nasha) ascended to the throne of God to receive everlasting "dominion, glory, and kingship" (Dn 7:13-14). Jesus often used the title of the "Son of Man" to describe his role as the humble servant of God who would be exalted through his death and resurrection. Yet Jesus seemed to cast doubts on the validity of that title by quoting King David in the book of Psalms. David said that he heard God speak to his Anointed One and tell him to sit at his right hand until his enemies became his footstool; and in it David calls the Messiah 'My Lord.' How can the Messiah be at once David's son and David's Lord? What Jesus was doing was trying to correct the popular idea of the Messiah would be a great descendant of David who come an an invincible king. Then Israel would become the greatest nation in the world. The title 'Son of David' was inextricably mixed up with political power, world dominion, and military conquest. Jesus was telling them that they must revise their ideas of what Son of David meant. They must abandon these dreams of world power and see the Messiah as Lord of their hearts and lives.

While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets. They devour widows' houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation" (v 46-47). Jesus accused the scribes of expecting to receive great honors that were quite extraordinary. He also charged them of devouring widows' houses by expecting an income for their teaching when it was supposed to be given for free. It was all the worse because these learned men knew better and held a responsible a place within the community. God will condemn those who use a position of trust to further their own ends.
REFLECTION: Can I explain my belief in the resurrection to those who question it? Do I use my position of trust to further my own ends?
* APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE
The word apocalyptic means "unveiling" or "revelation." Apocalyptic literature flourished among persecuted Jews and Christians from the second century BCE to the second century CE. Apocalyptic writing is crisis literature, the product of oppressed peoples (See the Book of Daniel). Basic to its belief is that the evil of a particular historical situation is so overwhelming that only God can rescue the victims and set things right. In these hopeless conditions, the apocalyptic author offers hope and encouragement in trying times. See my commentary on the Book of Revelation.


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Week 23, Pt 1
LUKE 20:1-26
KEY VERSE: "He said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are the Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (v 25).
TO STUDY: The Jewish authorities came to Jesus with question after question designed to trap him. If Jesus openly said that he was the Messiah and the Son of God, then they would have a charge of blasphemy and could arrest him. The first question was put by the chief priests, the scribes and the elders. These three groups made up the Sanhedrin, the supreme council and governing body of the Jews. They brought a charge against Jesus, asking him by what authority did he cleanse the Temple. When the orthodox Jews of the day delivered a judgment they made reference to their authorities: "There is a teaching that...." or, "This was confirmed by Rabbi ... when he said....". None of them would have claimed Jesus' calm assumption of authority. Jesus answered them in such a way as left them speechless. He simply asked them, "Was the authority of John the Baptist human or divine?" Every one knew how John regarded Jesus and how he considered himself only the fore-runner of the Messiah. If they agreed that John's authority was divine then they had also to agree that Jesus was the Messiah, because John said so. If they denied it, the people would rise against them. The answer to Jesus' question would answer their own question.

Then Jesus told a parable of the Vineyard that was also allegorical. The vineyard stood for the nation of Israel (Isa.5:1-7). The tenants were the rulers of Israel into whose hands the nation was entrusted. The messengers were the prophets who were persecuted and killed. The son was Jesus himself. He was the "stone" rejected by the builders, which would become the cornerstone of God's kingdom (Ps 118:22-23). Because Israel refused to accept him, the place which they should have had would be given to others.
The scribes and chief priests realized that he spoke this parable to them, and they watched for an opportunity to hand him over to the power and the authority of the governor, Pontius Pilate. They asked Jesus whether or not it was lawful for Jews to pay the poll-tax of one denarius to Caesar. The Jews claimed that they had no king but God and held that it was wrong to pay tribute to anyone other than him. Jesus was on the horns of a dilemma. If he said that the tribute should not be paid, they would report him to Pilate. If he said that it should be paid, he would alienate many of his supporters. Jesus saw through their insincere deception and said to them, `Show me the coin. Whose image and inscription is on it?' If they accepted Caesar's currency and used it, they were bound to accept Caesar's right to impose taxes. But there was a domain which belonged wholly to God. They must give to Caesar what belonged to Caesar, but they must and give to God what belonged to God. Since there was nothing in Jesus' statement that they could argue with, his opponents had nothing to say.

REFLECTION: Do I support fair tax laws? Do I give generously to my parish?
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Week 22, Pt 2
LUKE 19:41-48
KEY VERSE: "My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves" (v 46).
TO STUDY: As Jesus drew near to Jerusalem, the "City of Peace" (Yerushalaim from the Hebrew word Shalom, "peace"), he wept over the city's impending destruction just as the prophet Jeremiah did (Jer 14:17). Although divinely favored, Jerusalem would be desolate because she rejected the "Prince of Peace" (Is 9:5). Jesus was filled with righteous indignation when he entered the precincts of the Jerusalem Temple and saw all the money changers there. God intended the Temple to be a "house of prayer" (Is.56:7), but it had become a "den of thieves" (Jer 7:11). Jesus swiftly acted to cleanse the Temple of the abuses practiced there. His actions represented divine judgment against the religious leaders who failed to instruct the people as to the meaning of true worship. The leaders were outraged and wanted to do away with Jesus, but they could not find a way because of his popularity. By Jesus' actions, he took possession of the Temple as its legitimate and authoritative teacher. From that time until his arrest, the Temple would be the center of his ministry.
Jerusalem refused to recognize God's visitation through Jesus' ministry of reconciliation and offer of salvation. Four decades later, the Roman army under Titus surrounded the city, breached its walls and killed thousands of its citizens. The city and its Temple were burned to the ground and the survivors were taken into captivity. The heavenly Jerusalem became a spiritual symbol of the place of final judgment for God's enemies and eternal peace for those who believe in Christ (Rv 21:1-27).
REFLECTION: Am I an instrument of God's peace to those around me? Is my parish a true place of worship?
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Week 22, pt 1
LUKE 19:1-40
KEY VERSE: ""Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in this very small matter" (v 17).
TO STUDY: Only Luke tells the story of Zacchaeus the tax-collector whose determination enabled him to find salvation in Jesus. Zacchaeus' willingness to change his life was contrasted with the rich official who was unable to renounce his possessions and follow Jesus (Lk 18:18-23). In between these stories is the account of Jesus' teaching his disciples about the difficulty of detaching oneself from wealth (vs 24-40). Zacchaeus was short in stature but lofty in his determination to meet the Lord. Because of his height, Zacchaeus perched atop a tree hoping to catch a glimpse of Jesus as he passed through Jericho on his way to Jerusalem. When Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus' house, the little man "received him with joy" (v 6). But there was murmuring in the crowd about Jesus' habit of dining with sinners. As the chief tax-collector, Zacchaeus had the opportunity to acquire more revenue than he was entitled to receive. Zacchaeus promised to make full restitution restitution for any overcharge that he gained by unjust means. The tax-collector went beyond what the law demanded by giving half of his earnings to the poor. Jesus saw this little man as a true "son of Abraham," worthy to inherit God's promise of salvation.
Jerusalem was only seventeen miles from Jericho, and now Jesus had almost reached his goal. Journey's end lay just ahead. Jesus planned to ride into Jerusalem in a way that would be an unmistakable claim to be the Messiah, God's Anointed King. Only in war did kings ride upon a horse; when they came in peace they came upon an colt. So by this parable in action, Jesus came as a king of love and peace, and not as the conquering king or military hero that the people expected.

Jesus helped his disciples understand that contrary to Messianic expectations of the day, he was not going to establish an earthly kingdom. By means of an allegory, he taught them that his reign was a spiritual one. In the story he told, a nobleman went on a journey to secure the rights to his throne. During his absence, he put his servants in charge. On his return, the king demanded an account of each servant's stewardship. The reliable and productive servants were rewarded, while those who acted irresponsibly lost everything. In his death and resurrection, Jesus also must go to a "distant country" (v 12). But he will return with kingly power and divine judgment. Each individual will be evaluated on how they used the gifts God gave them.
REFLECTION: Am I willing to go out on a limb to see Jesus? Have I invested my time, treasure and talents in God's kingdom?
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Week 21, Pt 2
LUKE 18:15-43
KEY VERSE: "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" (v 24).
TO STUDY: On the way to Jerusalem where Jesus would die on the cross, people were bringing even their children to him that he might touch them. It was the custom for mothers to bring their children to some distinguished Rabbi on their first birthday that he might bless them. That is what the mothers wanted for their children from Jesus. But when the disciples saw this they scolded them and tried to send them away. But Jesus said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and don't stop them, for of such is the kingdom of God" (Lk 18:16). Whoever did not receive the kingdom of God with the trust and simplicity of a little child would not enter into it.
As Jesus went on his way, a wealthy ruler approached him and addressed him as, "Good teacher." The Rabbis had a saying that "Nothing was good but the law." To address Jesus in such a way was excessive flattery. Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good? There is none good except one God alone" (v 19). Then the man asked what he could do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him to see what the commandments had to say about living a righteous life. The man declared that he he obeyed the Law from his youth. Jesus told him that he still lacked one thing. If he gave all his possessions to the poor, he would have treasure in heaven. Then Jesus invited the man to follow him as a disciple. But when he heard these things he was very sad, because he was exceedingly rich and could not give up his wealth. Jesus told his disciples that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (v 25). Peter pointed out that he and his fellow disciples had left everything behind to follow Jesus, and he assured them that whatever they gave up for the sake of the kingdom, God would be repay them many times over.

As Jesus approached the city gates of Jericho, twenty-four miles northeast of Jerusalem, there were beggars appealing to travelers for alms. When a blind man ("Bartimaeus" in Mark 10:46) heard that Jesus was passing by, he called out, addressing him as "Son of David." This was the Messianic title promising salvation through the "house of David" (Lk 1:69). Though the crowds tried to silence the man, he pleaded all the more for his sight to be restored. Jesus recognized the deep faith of this man who saw more clearly than the sighted who were spiritually blind. When the man's eyesight was restored, he gave God the glory and followed Jesus as a disciple. This miracle caused many others to give praise to God.
REFLECTION: What have I sacrificed to build up God's kingdom? How can I help others "see" the Lord?
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Week 21, Pt 1
LUKE 18:1-14
KEY VERSE: "He told them a parable about the necessity of praying always and not losing heart" (v 1).
TO STUDY: Jesus knew that his disciples might lose heart after he ascended to his Father, and he told a parable to encourage them to persevere in prayer as they labored to build God's kingdom. In the story, a widow pleaded with a judge for her rights. In contrast to the powerful figure of the judge, the widow represented the poor and defenseless. The Law of Moses was meant to protect helpless members of society, such as widows, orphans and aliens (Deut 10:18; 14:29; 16:11). This judge may have been a paid magistrate appointed either by Herod or by the Romans, for he disregarded both God's law and human need. Nevertheless, the woman persisted in her demand to be heard, and the judge finally relented. Jesus did not compare God to an unjust judge. He said that if this hardhearted individual could be moved, how much more would God’s children be given what they needed? While waiting for Jesus to return in glory, the Church must persist in prayer and seek justice for all people.
The Pharisees were a sect within Judaism that carefully observed the written law. In opposition to the Sadducees, the Pharisees also followed the traditional oral law, the 613 commandments beyond the ten commandments. Pharisees regarded themselves as the "separated ones" because of their staunch adherence of the law in contrast to the rest of sinful humanity. Jesus contrasted the self-righteous attitude of one Pharisee with that of a humble tax-collector (Publican). This Pharisee regarded himself as superior to others, especially the tax-collector whom he held in contempt. The arrogant Pharisee did not even ask God to pardon his sins. The tax collector, on the other hand, acknowledged his sinfulness, and humbly prayed that God would forgive him. Jesus declared that it was this tax-collector that was justified before God because he repented of his sins and confessed his need for salvation.
REFLECTION: Who are the people in my community whose rights are not heard? Do I support just legislation on behalf of the poor and defenseless?
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Week 20, Pt 2
LUKE 17:11-37
KEY VERSE: "For behold, the kingdom of God is among you" (v 21).
TO STUDY: As Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem, he crossed the border to Samaria and there he met ten lepers. Leprosy in Biblical times was not only Hansen’s disease, which attacked the skin and nerves causing deformities and wasting of body parts, but also a general term for various skin diseases that caused cultic impurity. One of the lepers was a Samaritan. The Samaritans were viewed as "unclean" heretics because of their intermarriage with pagan foreigners when the land was resettled after Israel was expelled from their own land to Assyria. The king of Assyria then brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the people of Israel [2 Kings 17:24].
According to the Law of Moses, anyone infected with leprosy was also rendered unclean and excluded from the Israelite community (Lv 13:45-46). To reenter society, the individual had to be examined by a priest who would determine if the person had been healed of leprosy. When the lepers cried to Jesus for pity, he gave them a simple command to show themselves to the priest, which implied that they were already healed (14:1-4). On the way, all of the lepers were restored to health. Only the Samaritan, who was despised as a heathen "foreigner," returned to Jesus to give thanks. Despite the difference in religious belief, it was this foreigner that was restored to health and saved by faith in Jesus.

After centuries of domination by foreign powers, Israel realized that only divine intervention could release them from oppression. Israel longed for this great and terrible "Day of the Lord" (Joel 2:11), and looked forward to the Messiah who would announce the arrival of God's kingdom. Jesus explained that the kingdom was not a geographical or political realm, nor could it be pinpointed on a map or in time. The kingdom was already in their midst and, at the same time, was yet to come, a mystery for which Christians pray daily in the Lord's prayer. Jesus established God's reign through his words and works, his death and resurrection. It will be fully revealed at his final coming, a day that will arrive when least expected.
Throughout salvation history, the prophets warned the people of imminent judgment, yet they ignored these messengers of God. In Noah's day, the people continued with their ordinary activities right up to the moment the flood engulfed them (Gn 6-7). Lot had to be dragged from the city of Sodom because he did not heed the warnings of its impending destruction (19:16). Jesus alerted his followers to flee Jerusalem at the first sign of the city's coming destruction. When Jerusalem fell in 70 CE, thousands died in the siege while those that heeded Jesus' counsel were saved. God's judgment swiftly separated the righteous from the unjust. When that day of judgment comes -- people who lived side by side all their lives -- one would be taken and the other left. Those who trusted in God would find life everlasting.
REFLECTION: What am I doing to bring God's kingdom to fulfillment? Do I heed the warnings of today's prophets?


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Week 20, Pt 1
LUKE 17:1-10
KEY VERSE: "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mulberry tree, `Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you" (v 6).
TO STUDY: Luke recorded various sayings, or "logia," unique to his gospel to sum up the teachings of Jesus on discipleship. These included the necessity of avoiding offenses (v 1-2), how to treat an offending member of the community (v 3-4), and the efficacy of faith (v 5-6). The first saying involved those who caused innocent people to sin. Jesus told the future leaders of the Church that a terrible chastisement awaited those who scandalized his "little ones." To be thrown into the sea with a mill-stone (used to grind corn) hung about the neck was a common proverb regarding punishment for wrongdoing. Then Jesus addressed the matter of forgiving other members of the community who mistreated them.
A disciple should be willing to forgive fellow Christians as often as forgiveness was asked of them ("70 x 7" in Matthew 18:22). Faced with these challenges, the disciples cried, "Increase our faith" (v 5). Jesus told them that they only needed a small amount of faith to accomplish great works. With faith the size of a mustard seed, they could cast a huge mulberry tree into the sea. This figure of speech refered to the accomplishment of things that were very difficult, but not impossible. Jesus told them that the road would be difficult, but they must be faithful servants and follow in obedience. A servant must not take advantage of his master's benevolence by expecting favors or rewards. In discharging one's duties, a servant was to do what was expected of them. Jesus' disciples must follow his example and labor without expecting special treatment. At the Last Supper, Jesus gave his disciples a model to follow. Although he was their teacher and master, he was among them "as the one who serves" (Lk 22:27).
The late Cardinal Timothy Manning of Los Angeles said, "The field-hand has duties to do in the master's kitchen and at the master's table. These tasks are lowly ones, offstage and apart from the spotlight's glow, yet they are metaphors of love ... we are unprofitable servants and have done only what we were supposed to do." St. Ignatius Loyola prayed: "Lord, help me to labor without reward save that of knowing I do your will"

REFLECTION: Do I have mustard seed faith? Am I willing to forgive those who wrong me? Am I a servant of the gospel, or do I expect others to serve me?


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Week 19, Pt 2
LUKE 16:1-31
KEY VERSE: " slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." (v 13).
TO STUDY: One of the important themes in Luke's Gospel is the right use of material goods. The phrase "make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth" (mammon) roughly means to do good works with material possessions. Jesus taught his disciples that material goods should be used to build up the kingdom of God on earth. In the "Parable of the Dishonest Steward," Jesus contrasted worldly people who shrewdly planned for the future with the apparent indifference of the children of the kingdom of God. In the story, a steward had mismanaged his master's funds. He was faced with loss of employment, he was unused to physical labor and he was too proud to beg. So he devised a scheme in which he cancelled his own commission thereby reducing the amount owed by the debtors. Thus he ingratiated himself to both debtor and master. Jesus praised the enterprising steward for acting prudently, but he warned his disciples that they could not serve both the god of materialism and the God of the universe. If they could not be trusted with material wealth, how could they be trusted in matters of spiritual worth? Jesus rebuked those who had their values turned upside down. He warned them that worldly goods could lead to dishonesty and greed. A person could end up being controlled by their possessions. Jesus told his disciples to be faithful and honest in all their dealings, whether large or small. Jesus challenges us to consider whether we are as wise in the use of our possessions as those who act without the light of the Holy Spirit to guide them.
Jesus addressed a parable to those who were rich yet ignored the needs of the poor. In Jesus' day, the current belief was that prosperity was a sign of God's favor and suffering was a sign of God's displeasure. Jesus told a parable that was counter-cultural to this idea. In the story, a rich man feasted in sumptuous luxury while outside at his gates a poor man, Lazarus, suffered from disease and starvation. When the two men died, their fortunes were reversed. When Lazarus died he was escorted to the "bosom of Abraham," a metaphor used by Jews to stand for the kingdom of God. There, the righteous awaited resurrection (In the Old Testament death was described as "lying down with the ancestors," Gn 15:15, 47:30). However, the rich man was in torment in the netherworld (Hebrew, she'ol, a place of separation from God where the wicked were consigned). where the The irony was that in their lifetimes, a chasm of privilege and wealth existed between Lazarus and the rich man. Likewise in death, a chasm existed between the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his family so that they might avoid his fate. The rich man considered only himself and his family. He wanted them saved, but seemed unconcerned about anyone else, especially the poor. Abraham replied that Moses and the prophets had already given them God's word. If they failed to listen to the warnings in Scripture about loving one's fellow human beings, they would not "be convinced even if someone rose from the dead” (v 31) an allusion to Jesus' own resurrection.
REFLECTION: Do I ignore the suffering people int my community? What is my parish doing for the sick and the poor?


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Week 19, Pt 1
LUKE 15:1-32
KEY VERSE: "There will be great rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (v 10).
TO STUDY: Luke wrote that the "tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near" to Jesus while the "Pharisees and the scribes" were looking for ways to ensnare him with the charge that "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them" (15:2). It was to these religious leaders that Jesus directed his parables on the merciful love of God. When the religious leaders complained that Jesus associated with sinners, he reminded them of God's unconditional love for the wayward and lost. The compassionate God was compared to a shepherd that searched for his lost sheep, a woman that looked for her lost coin, and a wayward son who returned to his father. After each one was found, the owner invited everyone to join in celebration. The story of the prodigal son is one of several parables of Jesus that are only found in Luke's gospel. The word prodigal means extravagant, both for the wastefulness of the younger son and for the fathers great love for his both his sons. The parable might be titled the story of "The Two Sons," to emphasize the connection between the younger son's repentance who represented the tax collectors and sinners; and the envy and narrow-mindedness of the elder son who represented the religious leaders who refused to repent.
The parable might also be called the "Parable of the Loving Father" to express the inclusive love and grace of God. Luke said that the "sinners were all drawing near" to Jesus (v 1). When the religious leaders complained about this, Jesus reminded them of God's unconditional love for the wayward and lost. In this story of God's "amazing grace," the prodigal son (an allegory for the pagan Gentiles) came to his senses after he had squandered his inheritance in dissolute living. When he returned to the waiting arms of his father, they celebrated with a feast (the Eucharistic banquet). The elder son (Israel) protested that he had been faithful all his life yet never received such a reward. The father reminded his firstborn son that everything had always belonged to him. He asked his son to rejoice because his brother was once lost, but had returned home to the loving embrace of God.
We can all apply this story of repentance and reconciliation to our own lives. How often we waste God's gifts. We may even feel as though we have lost God's love. But forgiveness and grace is always offered by God. If we take a few small steps by confessing our sinfulness, we discover that God is ready to meet us at the Eucharistic table of mercy and love.
REFLECTION: Have I forgiven my brothers and sisters their wrongdoings, and welcomed them with joy? How long has it been since I received God's mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation?


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Week 18 Pt 2
LUKE 14:25-33
KEY VERSE: "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple" (v 27).
TO STUDY: As Jesus drew closer to his destiny in Jerusalem, he asked his followers to consider whether or not they were prepared to continue the journey. Were they ready to renounce everything, even personal relationships, that might interfere with their following him? Jesus asked his disciples to think carefully about these demands before they made this commitment. He used two examples to explain the need to be prepared. In the first illustration, before a builder could begin construction, he must make an assessment of his materials; otherwise, he might not be able to complete the job. In the second example, it was necessary for a ruler to weigh the strength of his army before going to battle, or else he might be defeated. Only those who were fully prepared would be able to follow Jesus to the cross that awaited him.
REFLECTION: Pray before a crucifix and examine your spiritual strengths and weaknesses so that you can better follow Christ. Pray for those in ministry who make great sacrifices for the sake of the gospel.



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Week 18 pt 1
LUKE 14:1-24
KEY VERSE: "All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted" (v 14)
TO STUDY: Luke typically paralleled the story of a woman with that of a man (see 1:5-20 and 1:26-38, 7:11-17 and 8:49-56). The cure of a man on the Sabbath corresponded to the previous healing of a woman that was bent over and unable to stand straight (13:10-17). The Scribes and Pharisees regarded Jesus as a law-breaker since he healed on the sabbath, since healing was considered work and a violation of the Sabbath Law. While Jesus dined in the home of a leading Pharisee, he observed a man suffering from dropsy (an accumulation of fluid in the body). The Scribes were legal experts, and Jesus asked them whether or not they believed it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. But they refused to answer him. Jesus healed the man, and then asked the religious leaders that if a person or animal fell into a cistern on the sabbath, would they hesitate to free them? If that was so, shouldn't they have more compassion for this man that was held bound by disease? Still, the scholars of the law remain silent.
While Jesus shared the sabbath meal at the home of a leading Pharisee, he used the opportunity to teach a lesson on humility to both host and guests. Noticing the competition for the seat of honor at table, he suggested that the guests take the lowest place. Should the host move them to a higher position they would be honored, and if someone of importance was seated in the favored place, they would not be embarrassed by being asked to take a lower position. Jesus reminded the host not to invite only the wealthy and important people to his home. He should open his doors to the weak and powerless. These were the ones to whom Jesus addressed his proclamation of God's kingdom (Lk 4:18). Although these poor were in no position to repay him for his generosity, he would be richly rewarded at the "resurrection of the just" (v 14). Can we imagine what it would be like if banquets were held in honor of the poor and deprived instead of the rich and famous? How would this change us? How would it change the world?
Jesus expanded his teaching on humility at the dinner table (14:7-14) into a parable about a banquet as an image of God's kingdom. When many of the invited guests refused to come to the banquet, the host ordered his servants to bring in "the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame" (those who were excluded from Temple worship, Lv.21:18). These unfortunate ones responded eagerly, but there was still room at the table. Then the host sent his servants to the farthest reaches of the land to fill his banquet hall with guests. This parable corresponded to Jesus' ministry. Those who were first invited ignored his call, so Jesus turned his attention to others who would accept his invitation.

REFLECTION: Do I respond to people's needs on the sabbath? What is my attitude toward the underprivileged in my community?


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Week 17, pt 2
LUKE 13:18-35
KEY VERSE: ""What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it?" (v 18).
TO STUDY: In Jesus' time, Israel had neither king nor kingdom. Some people hoped for political power that would rid them of Roman occupation and restore the rule to Israel. Others hoped for spiritual transformation. Jesus announced that the kingdom of God had begun in him. He used images to show that God's reign would not be manifested in sudden or dramatic ways, but in hidden, mysterious ways. When a tiny mustard seed was planted in a garden, it grew to be nine to twelve feet high. A few grains of yeast could alter the whole mass of dough. Although God's reign had insignificant beginnings, it would become great and powerful, and would be the means whereby the whole world would be renewed.
As Jesus journeyed toward Jerusalem, he stressed the urgency of answering God's call. Someone asked, “Lord, will only a few be saved?" (Lk 13:23). The assumption was that the kingdom of God was for the Jews and that Gentiles would be shut out. Jesus shocked his questioner by saying that entry to the kingdom was never automatic but was the result of strenuous effort (Greek, agonia, to “agonize,” or “struggle”). He stressed the urgency of God's call to enter the kingdom through its narrow door. The door was a narrow way through which disciples must pass with singular determination. The door would not remain open indefinitely. Many would put off their conversion until it was too late. After the master had locked the door, they would beg to enter, but they would hear the Lord pronounce the dreadful words: "I do not know you!" The faithless ones who delayed their conversion would not be admitted, while the faithful would be welcomed to share fellowship with the saints of old. Since those to whom the invitation was first extended rejected Jesus, others would take their place. While the Gentiles were called last, they would take precedence over the ones to whom the invitation was first extended. They would come from the four corners of the earth to share the banquet in God's eternal reign.
Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, was one of the sons of Herod the Great, who tried to eliminate the newborn "king" by massacring all the infant boys in his precinct (Mt. 2:16-18). Some Pharisees tried to drive Jesus out of the area by warning him that Herod Antipas was seeking his life. Jesus dismissed Herod as nothing but a "fox," a sneaky, crafty animal and not a man to be feared. Jesus' destiny awaited him in Jerusalem and he would not be thwarted by Herod. Jesus mourned the great city where so many of God's messengers lost their lives. He used a tender feminine image of God as a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings. Jesus longed to shelter Israel as a bird protected her young (Ps 17:8). The great festival song of Jerusalem that blessed the one who came in God's name (Ps 118:26) would not be sung again until Jesus' work was fully accomplished.

REFLECTION: What do I need to do so that Jesus will welcome me into his reign? Am I faithful in doing the Lord's work despite obstacles?


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Week 17, Pt 1
LUKE 13:1-17
KEY VERSE: "I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did" (v 13).
TO STUDY: In Jesus' time, suffering was seen as a sign of sin. Those whose hoped for a triumphant Messiah who would reestablish Israel in power found Jesus' teaching on the cross difficult to accept. Jesus pointed out recent disasters that people believed to be the consequence of sin. In one incident, Pontius Pilate ordered the cold-blooded massacre of some Galileans when they were offering sacrifice in the Jerusalem Temple at Passover. In another case, several construction workers were accidentally killed when a water tower fell on them. These victims were no more sinful than anyone else, yet they perished, perhaps before they had time to reconcile themselves with God. Although they may have been innocent of any wrongdoing, they nonetheless suffered the reality of evil in the world. Without faith, these calamities would be seen as terrible tragedies, but with a repentant heart, all events in a person's life, whether good or bad, can be sanctifying and redemptive.
Jesus then told a parable about a fruitless fig tree to illustrate God's patience. The fruitless tree was a symbol of barren Israel (Jer 8:13; Isaiah told a similar parable about a fruitless vineyard, Is 5:1-7). The kingdom of God was at hand and God's people should repent while there was time. Likewise God gives us every chance to bear good fruit in our lives. While God is merciful and patient in waiting for the fruit to bear, time eventually runs out. Hopefully, we will repent before it is too late.
As Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath, he noticed a crippled woman who was unable to stand erect. This woman was a symbol of God's people that labored under the heavy burden of the law while the religious leaders did nothing to lighten their load (Lk 11:46). When Jesus cured the woman, setting her free from the bonds that constrained her, she stood erect and glorified God. The indignant synagogue leader told Jesus that there were six other days on which "work should be done" (v 14), and he ought to heal then. Jesus told those hypocrites that the law allowed them to care for their animals on the Sabbath. Shouldn't they have as much concern for this "daughter of Abraham" (v 16)? While Jesus' opponents were put to shame, the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
REFLECTION: Do I view the trials in my life as tragedies or opportunities for growth? Do I try to uproot sin in my life so that I might bear good fruit?


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Week 16, pt 2
LUKE 12:35-59
KEY VERSE: "Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival" (v 37).
TO STUDY: The early church expected the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In speaking of his "parousia," or second coming, Jesus described himself as a master returning from a wedding who expected to find his servants vigilant on his arrival. Jesus also made the unlikely comparison of himself to a thief in the night. He pointed to the uncertain hour of his return telling his disciples to be prepared whenever he might come. They must be vigilant, ready to open the door when he knocked (Rv 3:20).
Jesus told his disciples a parable about being prepared for his coming even though it would not occur when they expected ("My master is delayed in coming," v 45). The prudent servant did not neglect his tasks while waiting for the master's return. The wicked servants took advantage of the master's absence by indulging in scandalous living and mistreating their fellow "menservants and maidservants" (v 45). They would be severely punished for their misconduct. Jesus reminded his disciples, who would be the future leaders of the church, that they received his instructions and were entrusted with a great responsibility. The faithful servant who watched over the household (the Christian community) would be rewarded when the master returned. Unfaithful servants would be punished for their shameful behavior. Jesus warned these future leaders of the Church that they would be held more accountable than those that acted out of ignorance.
As he journeyed toward Jerusalem, Jesus was consumed with a passion to redeem humanity from its sins. He was in anguish until it would be accomplished. John the Baptist foretold that when the Messiah came he would baptize with the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit (Lk 3:16). This "baptism of fire" would be set ablaze on the cross at Calvary when Jesus was plunged into his death and resurrection. Like the prophet Jeremiah, Jesus was prepared to face the consequences as he spoke God's truth to those who refused to hear it (Jer 38:4-10). Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom was a refining fire that required total commitment from his disciples -- no one could remain neutral (Rv 3:15-16). Jesus demanded radical conversion and total commitment from his disciples. Their attachment to him might even require a separation from family members who did not share their Christian beliefs. Jesus' message was a two-edged sword (Hb 4:12) that would cause dissension even among members of the same family who were either for or against him (Lk 2:34). This dissension was described by the prophet Micah who said that a person's enemies would be those of their own household (Micah 7:6).
Jesus warned the people that they were facing God's impending judgment, yet they refused to make a decision for or against him. He chastised them for being able to observe weather signs that predicted rain or heat, yet they were ignoring the signs of the coming of God's reign. Jesus told his followers that God's judgment was already taking place. There might be little time left to be reconciled to God and to put one's affairs in order. He said that it would be much easier to settle "out of court" than to face the ominous judgment of Almighty God. At such a time they would be required to pay the full price for their misdeeds. Then they would regret that they did not heed Jesus' words.
Paul understood that baptism was no mere symbolic ritual. In baptism, the Christian died to the old life and was raised to the new life in Christ (Ro 6:4). The rite of the early church demonstrated this truth. Proselytes entered the baptismal pool stripped of their old clothing and were totally immersed in water. When the new Christian came out of the water, he or she was clothed in a white garment, a symbol of having risen with Christ (Rev 19:8).
REFLECTION: Do I live my baptismal call? Do I share my faith with my family even when I might face rejection?


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Week 16, Pt 1
LUKE 12:13-34
KEY VERSE: "You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?" (v 20).
TO STUDY: In Jesus' time, respected Rabbis were often call upon to settle disputes. When a man approached Jesus regarding a quarrel over the family inheritance, Jesus asked, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” (v 14). He refused to intervene in this shameless argument about money. Luke then begins a long discourse on the nature of material possessions. Jesus told his disciples, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (v 15). Jesus told a parable about the foolishness of focusing on material wealth. In the story, a rich man's barns were full, so he made plans to build even bigger ones to store his harvest. The man presumed that he would have many years to enjoy his prosperity, but he gave no thought to God's plans (count the number of times the man said "I" and "my"). Nor did he give any thought to sharing his wealth. When death came unexpectedly, the man's earthly riches counted for nothing. He was a “fool” who said in his heart: “There is no God” (Ps 14:1a). Because he was so absorbed in his worldly goods, the man lost sight of God's eternal treasures that had eternal value (Mt 6:20).
Jesus also had something to say to those who had few possessions. Although Jesus did not tell them to be content with their poverty, he told them not to be anxious or to worry, but to trust in God's providence. He asked them to consider the lilies of the field, the scarlet anemones that bloomed one day and died the next. Wood was scarce in Palestine, and dried grasses and flowers were used as fuel for the oven fire. If God looked after the birds and the flowers, how much more would God care for them?

In Palestine, wealth was often in the form of material goods such as costly garments. But fine clothes could be ruined by a tiny moth. Instead, a person should cloth themselves with honor and goodness, which nothing on earth could destroy. If they sought the treasures of heaven, their hearts would be fixed on heaven; but if they sought the treasures of the earth, their hearts would be tied to the earth. Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God." In other words, "Work for things that last forever!" These were the things that were not left behind when a person departed the earth; they would take them into eternity.

REFLECTION: What are the "barns" I am building to hold my earthly treasures? Would I be ready if the Lord called me home today?


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Week 15, Pt 2
LUKE 11:37-- 12:12
KEY VERSE: "For the holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say" (12:12).
TO STUDY: When Jesus was invited to dine at the home of a Pharisee, he was criticized by his host when he failed to wash his hands before dinner. The Pharisees were scrupulously legalistic about ritual cleanliness. Jesus was more concerned with moral purity than with outward observance of the law. He made the comparison of tableware that had been washed clean on the outside but remained filthy inside.
These religious leaders were contaminating the people with their emphasis on externals while ignoring the essence of the law: charity and justice. While the law required people to pay a 10% tax on produce, the Pharisees taxed even the tiniest garden herbs. The Pharisees loved to be respected by the people in the synagogue and marketplace. Though they gave the appearance of being holy men, they were spiritually as dead as the "unclean" bones in the grave.
Jesus also spoke stern words to the scribes, the "scholars of the law" (v 45), for oppressing the people with their impossible legal requirements, and doing nothing to lighten their burden. By their superficial religiosity, they were following in the footsteps of their ancestors who killed the prophets. While they piously built memorials to the prophets, they refused to do what the prophets required: "to do right...love goodness, and to walk humbly with God" (Micah 6:8). The blood of those who died for the truth stretched from "A-Z": Abel to Zechariah, the first and last murders in the Hebrew canon of scripture (Gn 4:8; 2 Chr 24:20-22). Jesus charged the Scribes of depriving the people of the key to knowledge of God's kingdom by distorting God's word and not practicing it themselves.
In the face of growing opposition to the proclamation of the gospel, Jesus turned to his disciples whom he called "friends" (the only time in the synoptics - see Jn 15:14). Jesus warned his followers to be on guard against Pharisaical hypocrisy that subtly eroded the truth. His disciples should not to be afraid of physical suffering. The only one they ought to fear was Almighty God, the author and judge of their eternal destiny. Yet God was not a harsh magistrate. God was concerned about the welfare of every creature. God knew the worth of each little bird sold for sacrificial offering, and the number of hairs on each person's head. Since that was so, Jesus' followers should be assured of divine protection during times of persecution.
Jesus encouraged his disciples to be fearless in their proclamation of the gospel. Though they would be brought before the authorities, the Holy Spirit would enlighten and strengthen them as they bore witness to their faith. The disciples need not worry about how they should defend themselves, for the Holy Spirit will inspire them. Jesus did not promise to save them from suffering or even death, but he did guarantee that he would testify to their fidelity to him before God. Jesus warned them of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. These are sins that despair of salvation, presume on God's mercy, are obstinate in sin, envy another's spiritual good, resist known truths of faith, and are impenitent at death. Although each sin put an obstacle in the way of God's mercy, God's grace could overcome even these. But if they refused God's power to save them, they also denied the possibility of mercy and forgiveness in Jesus.

REFLECTION: Do I trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Does fear keep me from openly proclaiming my faith?


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4/15/13 7:11 P

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Week 15, Pt 1
LUKE 11:14-36
KEY VERSE: "Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house" (v 17).
TO STUDY: Jesus was accused of casting out devils by the power of "Beelzebul" ('Lord of the lofty dwelling,' the pagan god Baal of Syria, a title appropriate only to Yahweh). Jesus pointed out the absurdity of this accusation. It was self-defeating for Satan to allow his power to work against himself. Jesus asked the people whether they were acting in God's name or Satan's when they drove out evil. If Satan (meaning adversary) used his power to cast out demons, then Satan was working against himself and would eventually be conquered. Jesus was the "one mightier" prophesied by John the Baptist (Lk 3:16). Every word and act of Jesus' ministry was an attack on Satan's stronghold. Like Moses, Jesus cast out evil by the "finger of God" (Ex 8:15). Those who did not join Jesus in his opposition of evil assisted the adversary in his attempt to destroy God's realm. Jesus warned them that, when Satan had been driven out, they must strengthen their spiritual households. Otherwise, the Evil One would return, and their lives would be worse than before.
Although Jesus performed many miracles, some accused him of working miracles by the power of Satan. Still others demanded that he show them "a sign from heaven" (Lk 11:15-16) as proof of God's power at work in him. Jesus indicted them for their lack of faith, and declared that the sign of Jonah would be the only one he would give them (Jonah's "death and resurrection" from the belly of the fish, Jonah 2). Jonah was sent to preach to Nineveh in Assyria, Israel's ancient enemy. He was astonished when these pagan people repented and turned toward God (Jon 3:1-10). Jesus was a prophet greater than Jonah, yet the Gentiles were more receptive to his message than his own people. Jesus noted that the Queen of Sheba had come from afar to learn the wisdom of Solomon (1 Kgs 10:1-10), whereas Jesus, the wisdom of God, was spurned and rejected by his own people even though he came from God.
A woman in the crowd recognized that Jesus was the sign that people sought. She praised Jesus' mother who was so fortunate to have born such a son. However, Jesus knew that his mother was blessed, not because of her physical motherhood, but because she heard God's word and obeyed it. Mary was the model disciple because she spent her whole life in obedience to God's word. She said "yes" to the incarnation, and she submitted herself to God's will even when it directed her to the foot of the cross.
Jesus said that we cannot hide our light. In the dark houses of Palestine, it was necessary to put a lamp on a lampstand the illuminate the house. He compared this to the human eye. If the eye is healthy it receives all the light it needs; if the eye is diseased the light turns to darkness. Just so, the light of life depends on the heart. When the heart is right it radiates light to others. If the heart is hardened, then it only sheds darkness. Jesus urges us to keep the inner lamp burning brightly.
REFLECTION: Do I trust in God's power to protect my household from evil? Have I found blessings by obeying God's word?


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4/13/13 10:44 P

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I was thinking someone here had Living Faith. Once in awhile I order books from them and I've even ordered their children's DVDs for my grandsons.

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4/13/13 3:33 P

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I have had a subscription to living faith for the past 10 years--I do like it. I also liked Understanding god's Word, but they don't publish those monthly books anymore

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4/13/13 11:18 A

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I think I have read some postings that refer to Living Faith Daily Catholic Devotions. So some of you may already have this publication. Many parishes distribute these as samples. I picked one up several years ago and ordered a subscription. One thing I like is the prayers they include every season. Here's one from the most reason publication that, I think, addresses evangelization:
For an Increase in Zeal
Good and gracious God, as your Church observes this Year of Faith, may we be filled with the same passion and ardor of St. Paul and the first Christians who were willing to give their lives to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. may our hearts be on fire with divine love and devotion so that we, too, can be authentic apostles to a world in such great need of faith, hope, and love. Amen.

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4/13/13 11:09 A

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I have always ignored certain aspects of my faith. Evangelization seemed just "not me." Now that I have been participating in Bible studies and programs of growth, I am more open to it. I will share my faith with others more readily. Now evangelizing is more natural. I certainly have a long way to go to grow in this area but it no longer seems out of the question.

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4/11/13 6:06 A

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I'm way behind in my reflections on this bible study:

From week 11:

REFLECTION: Do people see Christ in me? Do I show my love for Jesus by serving others?
I think people may see Christ in me but not all the time. I am most definitely a work in progress. I don't serve others in a physical manner (as opposed to just writing a check) as much as I should .l it's something that I have thought of pursuing next year for lent but perhaps, I should start sooner, instead of waiting a whole year.

How can I imitate Mary's submission to God's word? Do my words and actions help to dispel the darkness in the world?

I guess I can imitate Mary by simply obeying the word of God. Again, my actions may dispel darkness in the world but I think I need to become more ACTIVE. blogging and writing posts on sites like this are one thing but I need to get out more and not hide behind my computer so much.

Week 12
REFLECTION: Do I rely on Jesus' power as I proclaim the Gospel? Do I live more by fear or by faith?

As I have mentioned, proclaiming the Gospel, evangelizing, has been my sticking point. I haven't been OUT THERE to do it and am probably too chicken to really do it. I think I live by faith personally but by fear in the outside world. I don't think fear of living my life, but maybe fear of proclaiming it. I know , or at least I am sure, that evangelization counts even if it is one person at a time, which I am more likely to do than to stand on a box on a street corner

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4/7/13 9:33 A

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Week 14, Pt 2
LUKE 11:1-13
KEY VERSE: "Lord, teach us to pray" (v 1).
TO STUDY: Throughout Luke’s gospel, he shows Jesus praying at every important moment of his life. It was in observing Jesus at prayer that his disciples asked him to teach them how to pray. In response, Jesus taught his disciples a simple prayer based on his relationship with his Father. Although it was the "Lord’s Prayer," it would be their prayer to God whom Jesus addressed intimately as "Abba," the way a child would address his parent. Jesus disciples must sanctify God's name by their conduct. By doing so they would make God's reign in Heaven manifest on earth. Jesus' disciples were to trust God for their daily needs, forgive each other's sins, and pray that they would not fail God in the time of trial.
Jesus urged his followers to persevere in prayer, and God would not ignore their fervent petitions. He told them a parable that shed light upon Jesus' petition "Give us each day our daily bread" (v 3). In the story, a man came at night to ask his neighbor for bread. Although the neighbor's family was asleep, he gave in to the request because of the man's persistence. Jesus asked, if friends were moved to give favors, how much more should parents grant whatever their children needed? Would a father give something harmful to his children when they asked for something to eat? If human beings with all their sinfulness were good to their children, how much greater would God's generosity be? Jesus told them to ask, seek and knock on the door of God's heart. God was a loving father who would not refuse his children. The greatest gift God would give them was the Spirit who would illuminate and guide them on their journey to God.
REFLECTION: How can I live the Lord's prayer today? Do I teach others how to pray?
NOTE: There are two versions of the "Lord's Prayer" in the Gospels: Luke 1:2-4 and Matthew 6:9-13 (the one we usually pray in public prayer). Spend time meditating on each line of the Lord's Prayer in Luke's gospel, making it your own: "Father". . . Do I live like a son or daughter of God?. . . "Hallowed be your name". . . Do I respect the Lord's name?. . . "Your Kingdom come". . . Do I work to bring about the reign of God?. . . "Give us each day our daily bread". . . Do I trust God to provide for my daily needs?. . . "Forgive us our sins". . . Do I believe God can absolve me of my sins?. . . "As we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us". . . Am I willing to forgive and forget the sins of others?. . . "Do not bring us to the time of trial". . . What is the greatest evil I need to resist?
________________________________________


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Week 14, Pt 1
LUKE 10:1--42
KEY VERSE: "Who is my neighbor?" (v 29).
TO STUDY: Moses had appointed seventy elders to assist him in the government of the people (Ex 18:19, 24:1-9). In a similar way, Jesus commissioned seventy-two disciples and sent them forth two by two to prepare the soil for the rich harvest that was to come. As God's messengers, they must alert the people that God's reign was at hand. Whoever responded to their message of repentance and conversion also heard Jesus and the one who sent him. Jesus' disciples were his representatives in every home they entered; therefore, they deserved the support of those who benefited from their proclamation. Jesus warned his disciples that they were going forth into a hostile world. They would be like helpless sheep exposed to prey, and must depend upon God's providence and protection.
When the disciples returned from their mission, Jesus was overjoyed as he heard of the power of God at work in them. Through their proclamation of God's kingdom, they witnessed the collapse of Satan's reign. Jesus shared their joy over Satan's fall, but he told them not to rejoice that they had greater power than the evil forces. They should be glad that their "names were written in heaven" (v 20). Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and thanked the Father for revealing the mysteries of the kingdom to his disciples who followed him like little children. Others who were "wise and learned" had no understanding of these heavenly things. The Father conferred this knowledge upon the Son, and he in turn revealed it to those whom he chose. Jesus reminded his disciples of their great privilege in witnessing what prophets and kings longed to see and hear. The Gentiles living in Tyre and Sidon had not seen such mighty deeds. If they had, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes as did the Ninevites in Jonah's day (Jon 3:1-10). Like the ancient prophets, Jesus expressed profound displeasure with those who rejected God's truth and mercy. Severe judgment was in store for those who rejected their call to repentance. Jesus prayed that more laborers would answer God's call.
A scribe, well versed in the law of Moses, asked Jesus what he must do to gain eternal life. Jesus told him that the answer was found in the scriptures: wholehearted love of God (Dt.6:4-5) and neighbor (Lv.19:18). When the lawyer asked, "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan. There was deep hostility between Jews and Samaritans, and the words "Samaritan" and "neighbor" were generally not used together. It would have been shocking for Jesus to say that it was the priests and Levites who rescued the man left to die by the side of the road. Touching a bleeding or dead man would have made these religious people "unclean" (Nm.19:16), and they were on their way to do "holy" things in Jerusalem. Jesus said that they passed him by. In contrast, it was a despised Samaritan that was "moved with compassion" (v 33) and treated the wounded man with mercy. Jesus told the scholar, to go and do likewise and help the "neighbor" he met along the way.
As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he stopped at Bethany to rest at the home of his friends, Martha and her sister Mary. Both women showed hospitality to Jesus. Martha tended to his physical needs for rest and refreshment. Mary was hospitable to Jesus by being fully present to him and listening attentively to his words. Jesus had been teaching his followers about the privilege of being a disciple (Lk 10:23-24), and Jesus did something radical for his day -- he allowed a woman to be taught by him. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, listening to the words of her master, just like a disciple of a Jewish rabbi. But her sister Martha criticized Mary for neglecting to help her with the details of hospitality. Jesus reminded Martha that she was too anxious about things of little importance. Only one thing need concern her, "to seek God's kingdom before all else" (Lk 12:29-31). Mary chose the better portion, and Jesus would not deny her the opportunity. Mary's service to others would flow from her single-hearted devotion to the Lord.

REFLECTION: How did I show my love of God and neighbor today? How do I feel about the role of women in the Church?


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Week 13, Pt 2
LUKE 9:37-62
KEY VERSE: "The Son of Man is to be handed over to men" (v 44).
TO STUDY: No sooner had Jesus descended from the mountain of the transfiguration, than the demands of life beset him. A man had come to the disciples seeking their help for his only son who was an epileptic. (In the ancient world such conditions were attributed to the activity of a demon). Though the disciples were unable to help the boy, Jesus healed him and gave him back to his father. The people were "amazed" by the power of God at work in Jesus. In the midst of this adulation, Jesus told his disciples to pay close attention to what he would tell them. He was the suffering "Son of Man" (v 44), his most characteristic way of speaking of himself. In doing so, he identified himself with the Son of Man in the Book of Daniel who opposed the "beast-like" kingdoms of the world. Jesus would triumph over his enemies and reign in glory (Dn 7:13-14). This was Jesus' second prediction of his passion (Lk 9:22), yet his disciples failed to comprehend his words (vs 43-45). A discussion arose among the disciples about which one of them was the greatest. Reading their grandiose ambitions, Jesus placed a little child by his side as an example of what discipleship meant. The disciple must be simple and trusting, and be willing to serve the poor and lowly of the community such as this child. Seemingly without hearing Jesus' words, John became indignant when he heard that an outsider had been casting out demons in Jesus' name. Jesus said that such closed-mindedness was in opposition to the Gospel that he taught them.
On his journey to Jerusalem, where he would face suffering and death, Jesus sent messengers to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival. The Jews regarded this mixed ethnic and religious group as heretical, and, in turn, Samaritans often refused hospitality to Jewish pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. The hostility between the Jews and the Samaritans arose in the eighth century BC when the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom of Samaria. Most of its citizens were deported, and the land was resettled with pagan foreigners who intermarried with the remaining Jews. When James and John responded angrily to Samaritan inhospitality, Jesus reprimanded them. He had come to save all people, not only those who deemed themselves worthy of salvation. When a prospective disciple declared that he was willing to follow Jesus wherever he went, Jesus made the demands of discipleship clear to him. Was he willing to be like Jesus, a homeless wanderer without even a place to lay his head? Could he renounce security and personal relationships for the sake of the kingdom? When another would-be disciple asked permission to return home to bury his father, Jesus told him that those who were spiritually "dead" would take care of his obligation. Another asked to bid his family farewell, expecting permission like Elijah gave Elisha (1 Kgs 19:19-21). Jesus was more demanding. God's call was urgent and a disciple's response must be unconditional. They must be willing to renounce everything for the sake of the kingdom.

REFLECTION: Do I recognize Jesus in the poor and suffering I meet? Do I work for racial and religious tolerance among people?



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Week 13, Pt 1
LUKE 9:18-36
KEY VERSE: "But who do you say that I am?" (v 20).
TO STUDY: Mark tells us that Jesus took his disciples to the pagan territory of Caesarea Philippi (Mk 16:13), which was in northern Israel near Banias. In that place was the Cave of Pan identified with the Roman god Faunus, half goat, half man, the god of fields and forests, flocks and shepherds. There may also have been a Temple built by Herod to honor Augustus in this area. Luke wrote that Jesus was praying (a typical theme in Luke) when he asked his followers if they understood his role and mission. He then asked his disciples who the people believed him to be. They answered that some thought he was John the Baptist raised from the dead, others said that Elijah had returned, still others believed that he was one of the prophets who had arisen. Jesus then asked his disciples who they personally believed him to be. Peter spoke for the Twelve declaring that Jesus was the "Messiah of God" (v 20, in Greek christos, the equivalent of the Hebrew term mashiach meaning "anointed one"). The title "Messiah" had grown in popularity, and among certain groups, was applied to one of the royal family of David who would come to restore the kingdom of Israel (Acts 1:6). Jesus warned them not to reveal his identity as many expected the Messiah to be a political leader that would set Israel free from foreign oppression. Then Jesus helped his disciples understand what it meant to be God's anointed one. Jesus' way was not through political power or world domination. His way was the way of the cross. All who wished to follow him must imitate his example. Jesus set down three conditions for discipleship: to regard oneself with humility, to accept the trials of life with faith, and to proclaim the Gospel despite rejection. A disciple who wished to share eternal life with Christ must be willing to let go of everything for the sake of the Gospel. Jesus told them if they faithfully followed him follow him in this world, he would give testimony to them in the next. Before that generation passed away they would see signs that the kingdom of God was on the way to its fulfillment.

As Jesus set out to Jerusalem and to the cross, he took three of his closest companions up the mountain to pray with him. The mount of the transfiguration is traditionally associated with Mount Tabor, but it is more likely Mount Hermon, fourteen miles from Caesarea Philippi where Jesus asked his disciples: "Who do you say that I am?" (9:20). The mountain was a place where Jesus regularly went to pray (Lk 6:12; 22:39-41). In the Old Testament, it was on a mountain where God's revelation came to Moses, the law-giver (Ex 19:3). The mountain was also a place of God's revelation to the great prophet Elijah on Mount (Sinai, 1 Kgs 19:8). The appearance of Moses and Elijah reveal Jesus' fulfillment of the law and the prophets, and his prophetic commitment to overcoming the oppression of God's people. Like Moses, Jesus' face became radiant with his encounter with God (Ex 34:29). Moses and Elijah appeared alongside Jesus, and together they spoke of Jesus' "exodus," his saving death whereby he would liberate people from sin. Peter saw Jesus as a tabernacle of God's presence, and desired to abide on the mountain in tents, an allusion of the exodus journey in the wilderness when the people dwelt in branched huts (Lv 23:41-43). The Feast of Tabernacles, or "Booths" (Sukkot), commemorated this event. At the end of the book of Exodus there is an account of the completion of the tabernacle and the words: "Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" (Ex 40:34). So too, God's glory was manifested in a cloud that overshadowed Jesus, the tabernacle, or dwelling place of God's presence. Jesus, God's chosen one and God's beloved Son was a prophet like Moses to whom the people must listen (Dt 18:15).
REFLECTION: How can I help others understand who Jesus is? Am I as faithful to Jesus in adversity as I am in victory?


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Week 12, Pt 2
READ LUKE 9:1-17
KEY VERSE: "Who then is this about whom I hear such things?" (v 9).
TO STUDY: Jesus summoned the twelve men he had chosen and he empowered them with his authority, sending them forth to proclaim the reign of God, which would overcome the forces of evil. Jesus advised his disciples to imitate him in their total dedication to God. On their journey, they were to trust in divine providence and depend on the hospitality and good will of the people they met. Wherever they were welcomed, they were to remain there to preach and heal. If the disciples were not received they were to shake off the dust from their feet when they left the town. When Jews entered Palestine after a journey in a gentile land, they shook off the heathen dust from their feet. Those that did not receive Jesus' disciples were to be treated as heathen country. They had condemned themselves as there might not be another opportunity to hear the good news.
Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, was the son of Herod the Great, the bloody ruler who ordered the slaughter of the innocents (Mt 2:16-18). Contrary to Jewish law, Herod Antipas divorced his wife and married Herodias, his half-brother's wife. At her bidding, Herod put John the Baptist to death for protesting their illicit marriage (Mk 6:17-29). When Herod heard the reports circulating about Jesus, he wondered who he was. Some said that Jesus was John who had risen from the dead. Others said that Elijah had returned, a sign announcing the arrival of the Messiah (Mal 3:23). Herod expressed a desire to meet Jesus, but like his ambitious father, his real motive was to eliminate this threat to his own power.
As a parable in action, Jesus multiplied the bread in the wilderness and fed the multitude. Jesus' four Eucharistic acts sum up every aspect of his life. Just as he "takes," "blesses, " "breaks," and "shares" the bread with the people, Jesus takes God's revelation, blesses it by his words and deeds, offers his body and blood on the cross, and shares God's life with the world. Jesus is our daily bread, our nourishment on our journey to God's kingdom. His precious blood sacrificed on our behalf gives us everlasting life.
REFLECTION: Am I committed to serving the Lord no matter what the cost? In what ways does our parish care for the hungry poor?


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Week 12, Pt 1
READ LUKE 8:19-56
KEY VERSE: "He said to them, "Where is your faith?" (v 25).
TO STUDY: As Jesus went from place to place proclaiming the gospel, he grew tired to the point of exhaustion and sleep was imperative. Hoping to get some rest, he went in a boat across the Sea of Galilee with his disciples. Leaving things in the fishermen's hands he fell asleep. A sudden storm came up on the lake that was known for its sudden squalls. It was such a storm that struck the boat that day, and Jesus and his disciples were in peril of their lives. The disciples woke Jesus and with a word he calmed the storm. Jesus then said to his awestruck disciples, "Where is your faith?" They were amazed, and said to one another, "Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?" (v 25).

When they crossed the lake, they came to the district of the Gerasenes. When Jesus and his disciples disembarked they were met by a man whose mind was deranged. The man had extraordinary strength that enabled him to snap his fetters. This man was too dangerous to live in the town and he lived amidst the tombs, believed to be the haunt of demons (in the ancient world insanity was believed to be caused by demons). Jesus faced the man the same way he faced the story at sea, calm and unafraid.

When Jesus asked the man his name, he answered, "Legion" (a play on words since a Roman legion was a regiment of 6,000 soldiers). There was a herd of swine feeding there on the mountain side (pigs were considered unclean animals by the Jews). With a word of command Jesus sent the man's "demons" into them, and they went dashing down the steep slope into the sea. When the townsfolk of Gerasene heard what had happened, they found the man sitting at Jesus' feet, fully clothed and in his full senses. The crowd grew fearful of Jesus' power and asked him to go away. As Jesus embarked on the boat, the man from whom the demons had gone out begged to be allowed to go with him. But Jesus told him, "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you" (v 39). So he returned to the town and proclaimed all that God had done for him.
When Jesus returned from the district of the Gerasenes, a man named Jairus approached him. Jairus was the leader of the synagogue, responsible for the administration and ordering of public worship. He begged Jesus to come to his house, because his only daughter who was twelve years of age was dying. The young girl was at the dawn of womanhood and eligible for marriage. As Jesus went with the man the crowds followed. Jesus was suddenly aware that someone in the crowd had touched the tassels of his robe, which all devout Jews wore (Num 15:37-41; Deut 22:12). The fringes were there to remind them that they were committed to the keeping of God's laws. The woman had suffered from hemorrhages for twelve years (the same number of years as the dying girl). Although she was considered unclean, the woman was aware that she had been healed. Jesus told her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace." (v 48).

As he was speaking, someone came and told Jairus that his daughter was dead. When Jesus heard this, he said, `Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved" (v 50). When they came to the house he allowed no one except Peter and John and James, and the girl's parents to enter. He took hold of her hand and said to her, "Child, get up," and immediately she rose (a sign of the resurrection). Then Jesus told her parents to give the girl something to eat (a Eucharistic theme).

REFLECTION: Do I rely on Jesus' power as I proclaim the Gospel? Do I live more by fear or by faith?


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Week 11, pt 2
READ LUKE 8:4-21
KEY VERSE: "And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold" (v 8).
TO STUDY: As Jesus proclaimed the good news, he told the crowds a parable about hearing and acting on the word of God. In the story, Jesus compared God's word to seed that had been sown in both favorable and adverse conditions. He said that there were many reasons why some people failed to respond to God's word thus preventing it to take root in their lives. The Evil One, trials, worldly concerns and material pleasures, were all obstacles to Jesus' offer of the gospel. Those who persisted in spite of these difficulties had hearts that were open and ready to receive the gospel message. Each of us has been given a bit of earth in which to plant God's word. With perseverance and devotion, we will bear abundant fruit in our lives.
Jesus used an ordinary household object to illustrate the radiance of the Christian life. A lamp was the only source of illumination in the dark windowless houses of Jesus' day. This clay vessel was filled with oil and placed on a stand where it burned night and day. of life. Through a Christian's words and deeds others would be enlightened by God's truth. Even the deep mysteries of Christ's revelation would come to light. Those who proclaimed God's word would find that the more Christ was shared, the brighter their own spiritual illumination became. Those who failed to persevere in responding to God's word discovered that whatever enlightenment they had, faded and grew dim.
Jesus' mother and relatives were concerned about his itinerant preacher lifestyle. They went to the house where he was teaching, but they were unable to get through the large crowd. When Jesus was informed that his family wanted to see him, he took the opportunity to teach his followers about the spiritual relationship that existed between Christians. Blood ties did not constitute membership in the family of God. The tie that bound Christians together was the reception and response to the word of God. The Greek verb hupakouo means "to listen," and also has the connotation of "obedience." Jesus' mother Mary was "blessed" because she heard the word of God and obeyed it (Lk 11:28). All who heard and obeyed God's word were Christ's brothers and sisters.
REFLECTION: How can I imitate Mary's submission to God's word? Do my words and actions help to dispel the darkness in the world?


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Week 11, pt 1
READ LUKE 7:18- - 8:3
KEY VERSE: "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard" (v 22).
TO STUDY: John the Baptist came in the tradition of the prophet Elijah, proclaiming a message of repentance. John declared that "one mightier" than he would come with judgment, casting the wicked in unquenchable fire (Lk 3:16-17). Contrary to John's expectations, Jesus came with a message of healing and compassion. When Jesus did not fulfill John's idea of the Messiah, he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if he was God's anointed one or should they look for another. Jesus restated the announcement that he made at the beginning of his ministry. His purpose in coming was to bring the blessings foretold by Isaiah: the lowly, suffering and broken-hearted would be comforted and healed (Lk 4:18, Is 61:1-3). Those who recognized Jesus' identity in spite of previous notions were blest.
Herod locked John the Baptist in prison because of his denouncement of the king's illicit marriage to Herodias. John sent messengers to inquire of Jesus whether or not he was the anticipated messiah (Lk 7:18-23). In John's time, it was anticipated that the messiah would be the glorious "Son of David," a warrior king who would restore Israel to her former power. Instead, Jesus pointed to his works of healing and compassion as signs indicating the advent of God's reign. Jesus testified to John's greatness. The Baptist was no timid preacher - a "reed swayed by the wind" (v 24), nor was he "dressed in fine clothing and living in luxury in royal palaces" (v 25). John was a fiery prophet like Elijah who prepared the people for the "Day of the Lord" (Mal 3:1, 23). John stood at the threshold of God's kingdom. But the least one born anew through Baptism and the Spirit would be far greater than John.
Just as Jesus praised John the Baptist for his faithful witness to the gospel, those who benefited from John's ministry also gave praise to God. But the religious leaders stubbornly refused to accept Jesus, God's messenger of salvation. Jesus compared these unbelievers to disagreeable children that were never satisfied. He said that they despised John because of his ascetic life-style and austere message of repentance. At the same time, they thought Jesus was a glutton and a drunkard because he associated with outcasts and sinners. In the end, God's children would be justified by Divine Wisdom.
As Jesus reclined at dinner in the home of a Pharisee (Simon the Leper, Mk.14:3-9), a woman entered the room and anointed him with oil, weeping in gratitude for the forgiveness she had received. The Pharisee was critical of Jesus for allowing this woman, a known sinner, to touch him. Jesus told his host a story of a money lender who forgave the debts of two people. The one who was most in debt was more grateful to his creditor than the one who owed less. Jesus reminded his self-righteous host that he had not provided the normal courtesies due a guest, while this woman graciously poured out her love. Because her many sins had been pardoned, she was able to be generous in return.
As Jesus journeyed from town to town proclaiming the good news, he was accompanied by his Twelve Apostles and several women who "provided for them out of their own resources" (8:3). These women disciples had experienced the healing love of Jesus' mercy, and they expressed their gratitude through generous service. Jewish tradition forbade a rabbi to associate with women in public, but Jesus went beyond the cultural customs of his day. He revealed that the Gospel was for all people regardless of gender. These faithful women stood by Jesus at the cross (Lk 23:49), were present at his burial (23:55), and were privileged witnesses of his glorious resurrection (24:1-10).
REFLECTION: Do people see Christ in me? Do I show my love for Jesus by serving others?


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3/13/13 10:00 P

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Do I use the power of intercessory prayer to help others in need? How can I offer Christ's compassion to those who are grieving ?

In answer to the first part of the question, yes, i do say intercessory prayers for others in need. i feel as if i have been praying for others for years. i have prayed multiple prayers for my family and friends for forever. Since I learned it at least 7 years ago, I have prayed to St. gerard majella for my preganant friends (it seems as if SOMEONE has been pregnant for the past 7 years--I have said the prayer nonstop!)

In part 2 of the question, I think just being there for someone who is grieving helps. I don't really cook well, so i definitely do not offer those services, but i believe that just my mere presence may be comforting

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3/13/13 9:55 P

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St. Augustine said, "Forgiveness has two daughters: Justice and Compassion. To whom do I need to show compassion today?

I need to show compassion to the sick and the elderly as they present themselves to my office for treatment. I feel that i, along with many health care professionals, am fighting the illness of "compassion fatigue'. There's only so much you can take when you get a run of relatively young people who are looking for a reason not to work or who are trying to blame EVERYONE ELSE for their illness other than themselves. it's sometimes hard to feel sorry for someone who gets ill despite the fact that you tell them regularly, for years, that he/she needs to give up a bad habit. But there is onloy so much i can do. tyhese are adults who, in the end, make their own decidions. i can only give them all the information they need to make a (hopefully) informed decision. When things go wrong, should I feel sorry for them? I think at times we confuse feeling sorry for someone with having compassion for that person, and i need to maintain the disticntion between the 2. I need to learn to open my heart to their suffering, regardless of how much i may feel that "they did it to themselves". The point is, the person is hurting now and i need to deal with it. I pray everyday for the gift og being able to help patients with their problems as i hope, someday, someone will help me.

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3/10/13 11:18 A

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Week 10, part 2
READ LUKE 6:39-- 7:17
KEY VERSE: "Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?" (v 41).
TO STUDY: Jesus taught his disciples to love their enemies (v 27-36), and to be forgiving, non-judgmental and generous toward others (v 37-38). His disciples must be clear-sighted in their understanding of the gospel. They would be hypocrites if they criticized others yet were blind to their own faults. A blind person is unable to guide another blind person, as both might stumble and fall. The disciples could not lead others unless they were able to see their own defects and limitations. Then they would be compassionate when others failed, and could help them overcome their wrongdoings. When these future leaders of the church were fully trained, they would resemble their teacher, Jesus.

Jesus taught his followers that the quality of their inner lives could be judged by the words they spoke and the deeds they performed. Their hearts were like storehouses of either good or bad fruit. Jesus' disciples would be recognized the good fruit that they produced in their lives. Jesus also compared the Christian life to building a house. The wise builder laid a firm foundation that could withstand the trials of life. Those who heard Jesus but did not act on his words were building on a shaky foundation. It was hypocritical to call Jesus "Lord" and refuse to obey him. Jesus concluded his "Sermon on the Plain" by telling his followers to put into practice everything he had taught them.

A centurion was a high ranking officer in the Roman army that commanded a force of up to 100 men. When the servant of a centurion stationed in Capernaum became ill, the officer sent the elders of the synagogue to entreat Jesus to come and heal him. The Jews were grateful to the centurion for having built their synagogue, and they urged Jesus to go and heal the man's servant. But the centurion sent word that he was not worthy to have Jesus enter his home (Jews regarded Gentile homes to be "unclean"). The officer knew how to use authority and he recognized this power in Jesus, and he had confidence that Jesus could heal his servant with a word of command. Jesus marveled at the man's faith, which contrasted with the disbelief of his own people.

Soon after healing the Centurion's servant, Jesus went to a town called Nain, which was a day's journey from Capernaum. His disciples and a large crowd followed him. In the story of the raising of the widow's son, Luke compared Jesus' ministry to two great prophets: Elijah, who raised the only son of the widow of Zarephath (1 Kgs 17:8-24), and Elisha, who resuscitated the only son of a Shunammite woman (2 Kgs 4:8-37). When Jesus entered the village, he saw a widow accompanying the bier of her dead son. Jesus was moved with compassion for the woman. Without a husband or son to support her, she would find herself destitute. Risking ritual impurity for touching a corpse (Nm 19:11), Jesus laid a hand on the litter bearing the dead man. With a word of authority, Jesus commanded him to rise to life. The people praised God for sending a new prophet to them.

REFLECTION: Do I use the power of intercessory prayer to help others in need? How can I offer Christ's compassion to those who are grieving ?



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3/10/13 11:06 A

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Week 10, Part 1
READ LUKE 6:17-38
KEY VERSE: "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets" (v 23).
TO STUDY: Luke's gospel portrays Jesus' concern for the poor and lowly, the "anawim," who had nothing in the way of worldly possessions and depended totally upon God's mercy. Luke's "Sermon on the Plain," is a counterpart of Matthew's beatitudes in the "Sermon on the Mount" (Mt 5:1-12). Whereas Matthew emphasized the spiritual values of the kingdom of God, in Luke, Jesus addressed the real economic hardships of his day: poverty, hunger, suffering and persecution. These poor and lowly were neglected by society but were welcomed by Jesus into God's kingdom. Jesus' disciples were "blessed," or "favored," because they found their fulfillment in God, and not in the things the world had to offer. Luke also emphasized the persecutions that beset his followers. The disciples were closely united to Jesus' own experience of suffering and rejection. Luke contrasted the blessings that came from being a disciple with condemnations of those who were not living a prophetic life-style. This series of "woes," or lamentations, showed God's displeasure with those who were blind to the true values of the kingdom. Jesus' disciples were warned of God's displeasure if they sought their reward in material wealth. Though they felt satisfied for the time being, they would suffer in the age to come. Mother Therese of Calcutta said that while America is a wealthy country, they are poor because they lack spiritual values.

In the midst of a hostile political system, Jesus encouraged his followers to accept persecution and suffering as he did. Jesus asked his followers to overcome hatred and oppression, not by violence, but through passive resistance: showing mercy, kindness, forgiveness and love -- even of one's enemies. In Matthew's gospel, Jesus told his followers to strive to be "perfect" as their heavenly Father was perfect (Mt 5:48). This is a difficult command for imperfect human beings. Instead of perfection, Luke stressed God's "mercy" (Hebrew, rachamim, from the word rechem, literally, "from the womb," the love expressed for an unborn child). Jesus' disciples were children of a benevolent and forgiving God; therefore, they should resemble their divine parent in their loving kindness toward others. Just as God forgave their sins, Jesus' followers should pardon the sins of others.

Central to Jesus' teaching was love of neighbor and forgiveness of one's enemies. He spoke out against vindictiveness because of mistreatment or injury. Jesus' commands were clear: Love! Bless! Give! Forgive! Stop judging! Stop condemning! Jesus encouraged his followers to overcome hatred and oppression just as he did, not through power, but through kindness, forgiveness and love. God will absolve our sins at the last judgment if we pardon the wrongdoings of others. God cannot be outdone in generosity. As long as we share the things that God has given us, we will never lack what we need for ourselves. God’s provisions are limitless; God’s grace is endless; God’s love is boundless. God will shower down immeasurable blessings upon those who are gracious to others.

REFLECTION: St. Augustine said, "Forgiveness has two daughters: Justice and Compassion. To whom do I need to show compassion today?



Edited by: ANDROMEDA1967 at: 3/10/2013 (11:19)
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3/6/13 4:02 P

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We as humans now have another test sent to us by God.. to sit up and really take notice of what the Pope really means to us, to our world and to His plan for our faith formation in this world of decreased vocation to Him.
Whomever our next Pope is named to be, we know that he is being guided by his Father...

SIX YEARS SPARKING!!

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3/5/13 12:04 P

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Last night I had to go to bed early. I've tired myself out, but it is a good tired. Today I was reading the section in Matthew Kelly's book (Rediscover Catholicism) about the history of fasting in the Catholic Church. I have learned so much from his book. It is a good place to start for this Year of Faith.

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3/4/13 10:07 P

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You've been busy. I'm glad you've been able to read so many books. i myself am a slow reader but I was thinking of perhaps starting a book club with the team, but perhaps after Lent

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3/4/13 12:26 P

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This has been a really good Lent for me as far as personal spiritual growth. I'm reading Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly. Excellent book. Another excellent book our Spiritual Book Club just finished reading is My Sisters, the Saints by Campbell. I attended two Lenten missions and a Catholic Women's Conference. Excellent speakers with inspiring words. I hope to attend an Edward Sri presentation in Tulsa at the first of April. (A Biblical Walk Through the Mass) I read his book, The Jewish Roots of the Eucharist and it was fantastic.

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3/3/13 2:20 P

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Do I pray for the leaders of the Church? In what ways do I feel called to follow Jesus?

I do pray for our church leaders. Like you, OKIEGIRL561, I say that prayer, one of many morning offerings, every day and have prayed it for the last several years. i also pray for the vocation of priests and for others in the religious life.

In what ways do i feel called to follow Jesus? I feel and know that I am called to follow jesus. As I learned in a bible study class, in order to be a disciple of jesus, we need discipline: self control and self restaint.. Discipline means making time for god ( i try to set apart every Sunday for bible study and, during lent, every Wed). We need to put in our lives the things we need to keep things balanced.

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3/3/13 9:10 A

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I try to pray this prayer daily. I found it in an old missal that my mother always took to church. During these times of strife in the world, I think it is important to pray for our church.

Prayer for the Church
O Holy Spirit, Creator, mercifully help the Catholic Church, and by Your supernal power, strengthen and confirm it against the assaults of the enemy; by Your charity and grace, renew the spirit of Your servants whom You have anointed, that in You they may glorify the Father and His only-begotten Son, our Lord. Amen.


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3/3/13 9:07 A

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Here is a morning prayer I pray often. Recently, while listening to Catholic Answers radio, someone asked about what do we do now while we don't have a pope. The host said that we can still pray for the intentions of our Holy Father because even though we don't know who the new pope will be, he is alive and surely has his prayers that we would want to support.


O my Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee all my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Thy Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all the apostles of prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father. Amen.


( I got this from:Guide to The Rosary & Treasured Catholic Prayers / Food for the Poor, Inc., 6401 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek, FL 33073)


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3/3/13 6:38 A

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Thanks for the tip, OKIEGIRL561.

Week 9
READ LUKE 6:12-16
KEY VERSE: "He called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also called apostles" (v 14).
TO STUDY: An Apostle was one who shared in Jesus' mission and was sent forth by him as his emissary entrusted with the message of the gospel. There are three lists of the Twelve in the synoptic gospels and one in the Acts of the Apostles (Matt 10:1-4; Mk 3:16-19; Lk 6:13-16; Acts 1:13). Each of these lists are different in order (See below). Only Luke says that Jesus bestowed the title of "Apostle" on those whom he chose. The Twelve were eye-witnesses to the ministry of Jesus from the time of his baptism to his ascension. This continuity guaranteed faithfulness to his teaching (Luke 1:1-4). Jesus spent the night in prayer before choosing those individuals to whom he would entrust the leadership of the church. The Twelve Tribes of Israel were founders of the old covenant. Similarly, the Twelve Apostles would form the foundation of the new covenant. After Jesus' death, Peter, who always heads the list of apostles, stated the need to restore the number of the Apostles to the full Twelve (Acts 1:15-26). After Pentecost, the term "Apostle" had a wider application than just the Twelve (1 Cor 1:1, 9:1, 15:5-9). They were, like Paul, ambassadors of Christ who possessed authority (but not superiority) of pastoral service over the communities. The episcopacy (Office of Bishop) traces its succession to the authority Jesus conferred on the first Apostles.

REFLECTION: Do I pray for the leaders of the Church? In what ways do I feel called to follow Jesus?

MATTHEW
These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. [Mat 10:2-4]

MARK
So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. [Mark 3:16-19]

LUKE
And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. [Lk 6:12-16]

ACTS
When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. [Acts 1:13]



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3/2/13 8:50 P

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The Gospel reading this Sunday is from Luke and Fr. Barron has a great homily on it at Wordonfire.org.

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2/25/13 2:57 P

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Hi, Andromeda,
I liked your response to the passage this week. I too, have problems letting go of not just things, but, letting go of the past. I am not sure why either. Is it fear that if I let go of things that I will not be truly happy? If I let go of the hurt, will I be letting those that hurt me off the hook? This lenten season has been an awakening for me. It has made me look within and see what it is I really need to work on and what is most important to me. It also has taught me the importance of letting go. The things that I have hung on to have not hurt anyone but me. Those who hurt me have gone on and lived their lives while I blamed them for hurting me. Did my doing this do anything to them? No, it just did something to me. It is one of the reasons that I hung on to the weight all of this time. By hanging on to the hurt, I hung on to the weight. It was a symbol of how much I was hurting. Jesus said that to not forgive we are only hurting ourselves and giving them power over our lives. It is not up to us to judge them for what we feel is their crimes against us. That is for God to do. So, this lent, I am praying to God to help me forgive and help me let go of the past and look to the future.

As far as how I keep the Sabbath, I try to keep it by reading the Bible and concentrating on God. It is difficult for me to get to mass as the nearest catholic church is almost an hour away and I have no transportation right now. So, I try to watch mass on tv and read the bible. I do have to change my laundry day as I have been doing it on Sunday. But, Sunday is usually a day of rest for me and homework.

Barbara

We are still masters of our fate.
We are still captains of our souls.
Winston Churchill

If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes.
St. Clement of Alexandra


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2/24/13 1:30 P

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Going through this study guide and reading the notes in my own bible made me realize several things. Luke 5:28 states Matthew left everything behind, Just like Peter, James and John did in 5:11 (unlike in the mark and matthew, where it specifically states that they left their nets and their father). This apparently emphasizes Luke's theme of complete detachment. Maybe the point is that to be a disciple of Jesus and be closer to God, we need to detach ourselves from material possessions. That is part of what i decided to focus on this Lent when I chose look at how I commit the sin of gluttony. I have too much stuff, too many possessions and I think my fear of letting go may be keeping me from a much closer relationship with God. Why the fear? I think I am afraid of changing completely. And i don't know why I am afraid because it's not like I am 100% happy with the person I am today. I am always impressed by the people in the bible (and those in my own life) who can just drop everything and go. I am such a slow-poke, I fear I will be left behind because I am too busy looking at what i am leaving behind. I need to learn to become more detached from the worldly goods as they can't do anything for me, but that is no easy feat, at least not for me.

As for how I keep the sabbath--I am truly trying to make it a day of rest but i don't always succeed. For the next few weeks, I will be spending part of my Sundays studying for my boards in addition to bible study. And whenever I go to NYC, I usually spend the majority of my Sunday driving 6 hours back home. But I have steered clear of doing mundane stuff (cleaning, ironing, laundry) on Sunday, trying to do those on friday and Saturday instead

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2/23/13 6:49 A

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week 8 Luke 5:27-6:11
KEY VERSE: "I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners" (v 32).
TO STUDY: Tax collectors were regarded as sinners because extortion was often associated with their office. They were also viewed as traitors because they worked for the occupying Roman government. Jesus accepted people as they were, and he invited a tax-collector named Levi ("Matthew" in Mt 9:9) to leave his post and follow him as a disciple. In gratitude, Levi gave a banquet in Jesus' honor and invited a large number of other people considered public sinners. When the religious leaders criticized Jesus because of his table-fellowship with so-called "sinners," he told them that he had not come for those who self-righteously believed they had no need for repentance, but for those that recognized their need to change their lives.

Jesus had come to establish a new covenant between God and people. When the religious leaders complained that Jesus and his disciples did not fast as they and John the Baptist's disciples did, Jesus compared his relationship with his followers to a marriage. He said that when the bridegroom was present, it was a time for rejoicing. When Jesus returned to his Father, the church would mourn and fast until they were reunited. Jesus used two images to contrast the old and new religion. It was futile to patch an old cloak with new material. The strong new cloth would only tear the old cloth apart. Likewise, old brittle wineskins could not contain the new fermenting wine. Jesus had come to offer new wine of the Spirit to the people but many preferred the old wine of the law.

Jesus was always in opposition with the religious leaders and their rigid interpretation of the Sabbath law. Picking grain on the Sabbath was the first controversy that eventually led to a final break with the religious leaders, and ultimately to Jesus' death. When Jesus' disciples picked and ate grain on the Sabbath, they were accused of violating the Sabbath law that prohibited harvesting (Ex 34:21). Jesus defended his disciples by reminding the Pharisees of a precedence in scripture. The great King David fed his hungry men with the bread of offering that was reserved for priests (1 Sm 21:1-7). Jesus said that charity must prevail over religious laws. Jesus, the "Son of Man," showed solidarity with the needs of his people and displayed his supreme authority over the law.

Just as harvesting was prohibited on the Sabbath (Luke 6:1-5), so was healing. When a man with a withered hand came to the synagogue on the Sabbath, the religious leaders maliciously waited to see what Jesus would do. If he healed, they could charge him with a violation of the Sabbath. The Sabbath law allowed assistance only if a person's life was in danger, but this man's life was not threatened. He could have waited until the next day to be healed. Jesus knew that he was being watched, but he openly challenged his opponents telling the man to stretch out his withered hand. Only Luke tells us that it was the man's right hand that was withered (See Mt 12:10-13 and Mk 3:1-6). This meant that the man was probably unable to do physical labor, thereby being deprived of a livelihood. Jesus declared that the refusal to do good was evil in itself, and he healed the man. The Pharisees were enraged by this merciful act, but they saw no problem in plotting Jesus' death on the Sabbath.

REFLECTION: Where do I need conversion in my life? How do I keep the Sabbath?



Edited by: ANDROMEDA1967 at: 2/27/2013 (19:43)
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2/23/13 6:48 A

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How does this passage relate to my own ministry as a follower of Jesus? Who have I brought to Christ? (reflection on Luke 5: 1-26)

I have never considered myself to have aministry at all and I don't think I have brought anyone to Christ. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I di try to talk to my father and brother so i guess they would be the main focus of my "ministry" but I know I don't push the issue either and maybe I should. In the end, I hope that leading by example will be enough. (but I know it probably is not)



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2/19/13 10:56 P

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Thank you. I will watch it tomorrow. I am glad to hear that I am not alone when it comes to this type of thing. I wish she would show me more respect where this is concerned. I wanted to say something to her, but I have never been the one to be confrontational. Maybe that is one of my problems. Maybe I need to tell her how I feel and how her comments affected me. Maybe then she will begin to respect my feelings and my faith. Who knows.

Barbara

We are still masters of our fate.
We are still captains of our souls.
Winston Churchill

If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes.
St. Clement of Alexandra


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2/19/13 10:25 P

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this is a video from NOOMA--it features a christian speaker, Rob Bell, on various topics. I first learned of these short, inspirational videos at a bible study I participated in a few years ago. The one that I am posting a link to seems up your alley (or your sister;s) Ask her to watch it, it may help. the worst she can do is say no
www.youtube.com/watch?v=koutUz0Im48

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2/19/13 10:11 P

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sorry to hearthat your sister is in such a bad place. I face the same issues with members of my family. My mother had a strong faith but often wondered if God answered prayers (her main one being that I get married and have kids, which unfortunately did not and still hasn't ahppened). My father believes in God but will often argue with me about spiritual matters. Unfortunately, he had a bad experience--he was turned away from a church when he first came to this country (from Haiti) by the priest(!) mainly because he was black. Maybe there was more to it than just that, but is what he always told me. My brother is "spiritual"--he doesn't go to mass but respects my beliefs. I guess that's the real point--even though i am the only one who goes to mass, they both respect my faith. Your sister is having issues but that it no reason to be disrespectful of your pursuit to get closer to God. Don't doubt yourself, keep striving forward. Perhaps, even if she is not LISTENING to you, she may follow your example

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I am a little behind. I have been trying to read the bible everyday. I am following the Daily Audio Bible's daily reading. It is reading the bible in one year. So I am a little behind in the Luke reading. I will catch up today I hope. However, with the question you posed for the last reading about who have we brought to Christ. I am running into the same problems that the Apostles did. My own sister has decided to make fun of my talking about God and Jesus. She was brought up Roman Catholic and has been having a hard time with faith. She has gone through a very messy divorce and her faith has not been strong. But, for her to make fun of my faith is very unnerving for me. I never thought she would do that. I have a strong faith in God and Jesus and want to share it, but this makes me doubt if I should sometimes. I just wish I could get through to her that it is not God causing her problems, but herself and if she would just have faith and believe, things would get better for her. She is just living in such a black state that I cannot bring her out of it. I will keep trying though.

Barbara

We are still masters of our fate.
We are still captains of our souls.
Winston Churchill

If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes.
St. Clement of Alexandra


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2/17/13 8:06 P

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welcome to the team

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2/17/13 4:49 P

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Hello, I am so happy to be joining you for this Bible study. Although I attend daily Mass and have heard the readings, I will begin at the beginning with Jill, and catch up with you. God bless you all!

In the love of the Two Hearts emoticon

Kimberlynn from California

it's our actions that define us
What we choose
What we resist
What we're willing to give it all for

"I used to be crazy, but one of my voices is a therapist and has declared me sane."


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2/17/13 10:10 A

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week 7

READ LUKE 5:1-26
KEY VERSE: "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people" (v 10).
TO STUDY: Only Luke calls the Sea of Galilee by the name of the plain of Gennesaret located on the northwest shore of the lake. It is the location of many of Jesus' manifestations as the Messiah. Here the crowds press in on him in great numbers to listen to the "word of God" (Lk 5:1, see Jn 1:14). Jesus was forced to get into a boat belonging to Simon Peter, and after they pushed off from the shore, he continued to preach. Afterwards, Jesus told the fishermen to put out into the deep waters and be prepared for a great catch of fish. Peter protested that they had fished all night (the usual time for fishing) and caught nothing. Yet, obediently, Peter lowered his nets. The result was so great a haul that the nets were in danger of breaking. The boats were so full that they were on the verge of sinking and they called others to help them. Overwhelmed by the miraculous draught of fish, James and John (Peter's fishing partners) were astonished. Peter confessed his own sinfulness, and falling at Jesus' knees he said, "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" (v 8). Jesus did not depart but made Peter the captain of his fishing fleet. When the men brought their boats ashore, the disciples left everything behind and followed Jesus. This miraculous draught of fish signified the future mission of the Church. The disciples' efforts to bring souls to Christ would be successful if they remained true to Jesus' words.

Jesus had announced his mission to the poor and suffering (Lk 4:18-19). Now he acted upon his words and healed a leper who begged to be made clean. Leprosy included a variety of skin diseases (and even household mold), but the disfiguring leprosy (Hansen's disease) was thought to be incurable. This leprosy was regarded as a living death, a scourge sent from God as punishment for sin. Repentance was necessary before a healing could occur. The leper was regarded as an outcast, separated from the community and denied access to Temple worship. Although touching a leper made one "unclean," Jesus reached out to cure the man with his healing touch. Jesus then sent the man to the priest who alone could pronounce him healed and fit to return to society (Lv 14:2-3a). Jesus' fame spread throughout the region, and great crowds gathered to hear him preach, and to be healed of their afflictions. After an exhausting day, Jesus found it necessary to renew himself, and he withdrew to a deserted place to pray.

The religious leaders came to Jesus because they were concerned that he was not following their rigid interpretation of the law. Luke contrasted their suspicion with the faith of some men who came to Jesus out of concern for their paralyzed friend. When the men were unable to get through the crowd, they climbed the outside stairway of the house where Jesus was staying, removed some tiles on the roof, and then lowered the invalid through the hole to the feet of Jesus. Jesus was not only interested in the paralytic's physical well-being, but also his spiritual health. When he told the man that his sins were forgiven, the religious leaders were scandalized as only God could forgive sins. To prove his authority over both physical and spiritual affliction, Jesus healed the man causing the astonished people to give praise to God.

REFLECTION: How does this passage relate to my own ministry as a follower of Jesus? Who have I brought to Christ?



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REFLECTION: What evil needs to be cast out of my community? To whom can I bring Jesus' healing?

Where do I start? One thing that needs to be cast out is narrow midedness--it prevents us from seeing so many ways in which we can help each. One example is the debate over the new healthcare law. i understand both sides. I can understand the objection to certain aspects of the law, but I also see first hand the kind of people the law would help--those people who are trying to do for themselves but are pushed back every which way and end up with nothing--no health insurance, poor health. That's a touchy situation and I see many people, on both sides of the debate, who refuse to see where the other person is coming from. that only leads to my problems.

To whom can I bring healing? Everyone and anyone--I just have to have the courage to take that first step--open my mouth, offer a hug. I susally don't take the first step and wait for an invitation. Maybe I need to break out of that.

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2/11/13 8:09 P

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Great to have yopu on the team! We haven't gotten that far, so it won't take you long to cacth up!

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2/11/13 5:00 P

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I will start at the beginning of Luke =)

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2/10/13 9:54 A

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week 6
READ LUKE 4:14--4:44
KEY VERSE: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor" (v 18).
TO STUDY: The synagogue developed as a result of the Exile and the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 587 BCE. With the sacrificial cult no longer possible, the synagogue was necessary for the survival of Judaism. After the people returned from Exile, the synagogue continued to be a place for study and worship. The law said that wherever there were ten Jewish families there must be a synagogue. The synagogue service consisted of singing a Psalm, the recitation of the Shema ("Hear!" a Jewish expression of faith in the one true God, Dt. 6:4-9, 11:13-21; Nm 15:37-41); a reading from the Torah (the Law and the Prophets), and the Priestly Blessing (Nm 6:24-36), which was led by the synagogue president. The readings of the entire Pentateuch were covered in a three year cycle, much like our Christian lectionary today. Any well instructed male member of the assembly could be called upon to read and interpret the scriptures.

After Jesus' baptism, he returned to Nazareth, his home town. Because Jesus' reputation had spread throughout the land, he was called upon to teach in the synagogue. On one occasion, Jesus was given the scroll of the prophet Isaiah to read (Is 61:1-2). The passage spoke of the restoration of Israel through the work of God's anointed one (the Messiah in Hebrew or Christos in Greek). Jesus announced that Isaiah's words applied to his own mission. He had been anointed by God's Spirit to announce a Jubilee year of God's favor. He came to release those held captive by political, economic, social, physical and moral sin, and to bring good news to the poor, oppressed and afflicted. The people of Nazareth were amazed at Jesus' teaching, but they were skeptical of his authority. They scoffed, "Is not this Joseph's son?" (v 22), one of their own neighbors?
What's more, if he performed so many miracles elsewhere, why had he not worked any in his own hometown? The people rejected him as they did the prophets before him. Jesus compared his own ministry to that of Elijah and Elisha who were sent to the Gentiles after their prophetic mission was rejected by their own people. This angered the crowd and they tried to throw Jesus over a cliff, but he walked away unharmed. This incident prefigured the persecution that Jesus would continually face. He would find no escape from his ultimate fate on Calvary.

After Jesus was rejected in his hometown of Nazareth, he went to Capernaum on the northwest coast of Lake Gennesaret (another name for the Sea of Galilee). Once again Jesus taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath, and this time the people were impressed by his authoritative words. Suddenly, Jesus was interrupted by the demonic shriek of a man possessed by an evil spirit. The demon knew that Jesus was the "Holy One of God" (v 34) who had come to destroy evil and restore God's supremacy over humankind. With a powerful command, Jesus exorcized the evil spirit and healed the man. The people were in awe at the power of Jesus' word, and his renown spread throughout the area. God's power over all forms of evil was at work in Jesus whose divine authority (Greek, exousia) came from his very being.

After curing the demoniac in the synagogue at Capernaum (Lk 4:33-35), Jesus went to the home of Simon Peter. With a powerful word he cured Simon's mother-in-law who lay ill with a severe fever. She arose and waited on them all as a true servant of God. At sunset, the Sabbath ended and the people were free to bring their sick to Jesus. He laid hands on them, curing those who were ill and exorcizing evil. At daybreak, Jesus retired to a deserted place, but the people came in search of him, beseeching him to remain with them. Jesus told them that he must proclaim the gospel to others because that is why he had been sent.

REFLECTION: What evil needs to be cast out of my community? To whom can I bring Jesus' healing?



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2/2/13 9:40 P

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Does my life give evidence of my being God's beloved son or daughter? Do I live out my baptismal commitment?

In some ways, i do believe my life gives evidence of my being God's beloved daughter.And then there are those times when you wouldn't even know it. But I think I am improving, slowly but surely.

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2/2/13 9:32 P

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Week 5
READ LUKE 3:21 ― 4:13
KEY VERSE: "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased" (v 22).
TO STUDY: The baptism of Jesus was another "epiphany," or manifestation of the divine presence. At the heart of Christian baptism is dying to one way of living and then rising to a whole new way of life. In baptism, the elect are plunged into the death and resurrection of Christ (Ro 6:3-5). Although Jesus had no need of repentance, he entered the murky waters where the people had been baptized, thereby uniting himself with sinful humanity. While Jesus was praying, the Spirit descended upon him, and God's voice was heard confirming Jesus as the "beloved Son" (v 22). On Calvary, Jesus would undergo a baptism of fire that would bring salvation to the whole world (Lk 12:49-50). This transforming fire would be poured out on the Church at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).
After his Baptism (Lk 3:22), Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days. There he was tempted by the Evil One just as the people of Israel were tested for forty years in the wilderness (Dt 8:3). The first temptation echoed Israel's failure to trust God in the desert when they were hungry. Jesus knew real hunger during his fasting, but he refused to turn stones into bread. Instead he put his trust in God. The second temptation was the desire to attain earthly power and glory. Again Jesus resisted this enticement. He came, not as a regent, but as God's suffering servant. The third test was for Jesus to display his power by throwing himself over the Temple parapet. Jesus' real power was his ministry to the poor, the sick and suffering. In each trial, Jesus was the faithful Son who refused to succumb to the attraction of power, prestige and position. Satan was defeated and retreated until the final test when Jesus conquered evil on the cross.
Luke traces Jesus' lineage from Joseph all the way back to Adam. Jesus is the New Adam who obeys his Father's commands.
REFLECTION: Does my life give evidence of my being God's beloved son or daughter? Do I live out my baptismal commitment?
DID JEWS BAPTIZE BEFORE JESUS CAME?
The word baptism comes from a Greek word (baptisma) that means to plunge, or to become submerged in water. During the time of Jesus the Jews practiced many kinds of water purifications. There are several baptisms in scripture that are of importance. There is the baptism of John. There is the baptism of John baptizing Jesus, and there is the baptism in the name of Christ in the church after his death and resurrection. The Christian baptism is an identification with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The baptism of John was a Jewish washing. Throughout Jewish history it was traditional for Jews to demonstrate repentance through washing ceremonies. John's baptism may have been related to the purifying washings of the Essenes at Qumran near the Dead Sea. John was preaching repentance for the coming of God's reign. The people who accepted that message and desired to repent came to John. The internal conversion of their heart was demonstrated externally in their baptism in anticipation for the arrival of Messiah. It was a baptism of repentance, and so it was Jewish baptism. Christian baptism is very different from those ritual washings, which were self-administered and could be repeated many times. Christian baptism, on the other hand, is administered by another person and happens only once in a lifetime.


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2/1/13 2:45 P

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Am I filled with expectation for Christ's coming in my life? How am I preparing my mind and heart?

I would like to think that I am preparing my mind and heart for Christ's coming. Although there are times when I wonder if I am doing enough. The answer to that is no. I should be doing more, being more. I have not done what I know is right in God's sight. I have given to charities, but it is not enough. At least not in the eyes of John and Jesus. I should be doing more to help the poor and disenfranchised, but I do not. So, can honestly say that I am not prepared, but will strive to do better to prepare myself for his coming and help those that it is in my power to help.

Barbara

We are still masters of our fate.
We are still captains of our souls.
Winston Churchill

If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes.
St. Clement of Alexandra


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1/27/13 9:48 P

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Am I filled with expectation for Christ's coming in my life? How am I preparing my mind and heart?

Sometimes I don't feel as if I am as entusiastic as I should be or as "filled with expectation for Christ's coming in my life" as I should be. Certain things, certain behaviors, just don't come natural to me. Even if I did feel the entusiasm that Simeon and Anna felt, I don't think I would be jumping up and down or whooping and hollering about it. There are many people "filled with the spirit" who have absolutely no problems emoting in that way. That's not me. Sometimes I feel that there is something wrong with me because I don't feel the passion to that extent. I know I couldn't force myself to that because that would just be insincere and God would see right through it. On the other hand, I don't think I am any less expectant of Christ coming into my life. I think by prayer, bible study and trying to do more of what God wants me to do will lead me, eventually, to that full expectation. Sometimes I am frustrated that "I am not there yet" and that there is something really wrong that it hasn't happened or it's taking too long. But I persist and I will keep trying until I get there.

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1/27/13 9:34 P

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Week 4
READ LUKE 2:22-3:20
KEY VERSE: "For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples" (v 30-31).
TO STUDY: Luke turns his attention from the story of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem to the Temple of Jerusalem. Thus Luke emphasized the central portion of his gospel, Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem where he would suffer and die (Lk 9:51-19:27). Thirty-three days after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph brought their child to the Temple for the sacred rites of purification (Lv 12:1-8, sixty-six days for a female child). They offered a pair of pigeons, which was the offering of the poor (Lv 12:8). Though this poor family could not afford a lamb for the sacrifice, they held the "lamb of God" in their arms.

In the Temple that day were two of God's faithful ones, Simeon and Anna, who awaited the deliverance of Israel. Simeon praised God for allowing him to see the one who would bring salvation to his people, and be a "light for revelation to the Gentiles" (Lk 2:32). His words to Mary pierced her heart. Her deep faith and piety would not spare her from the suffering of her son. Luke paralleled the account of Simeon with that of Anna, a devout, elderly widow who spent her days in the Temple praying and fasting for the redemption of Israel. Anna was called a "prophetess," one who interpreted God's actions in the world. She gave thanks to God and told everyone that redemption would come through this child. When the presentation was complete, the family returned to their home in Nazareth.

When Jesus was twelve years old, he went with his parents to the Temple to celebrate the feast of Passover, which commemorated Israel's deliverance from slavery in Egypt. At the end of the feast, the family assumed that their son was in the caravan returning to Nazareth. When the anxious parents did not find him after the first day of travel, they returned to the Holy City to look for him. After three days, the astonished parents found Jesus in the Temple with a group of teachers who were amazed at his wisdom. When Mary reproached her son for causing them grief, Jesus replied that he "had" to be about the work of his Father. Then Jesus obediently returned to Nazareth where he grew in age, wisdom and grace.

The beginning of Jesus' ministry took place within the political and religious history of Palestine. Luke noted that it was the fifteenth year of the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius Caesar (27-29 C.E.), the successor of Augustus, and the second of the Roman emperors. Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor of Judea, Herod Antipas ruled Galilee and Perea, and Caiaphas served as high priest. During this time, God called John the Baptist to announce the coming salvation through God's anointed one. God did not call the prophet in a Temple or a palace, but in the wilderness. John was called to preach a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins in preparation for the imminent reign of God. Luke quoted the prophet Isaiah to show the fulfillment of God's promises in the scriptures. John was sent to prepare the way for the coming of Christ.

The people were filled with expectation and wondered, "What then should we do?" (v 10). John told each group to do more than the law required them to do. The people wondered if John was God's anointed one. John answered that his baptism with water symbolized a conversion to the will of God. It was only a preparation for "one mightier" who would baptize with "the Holy Spirit and fire" (v 16). John used the image of a winnowing fan, a shovel used to separate the wheat from the chaff, to describe God's coming judgment that would divide the good from the bad. Jesus would bring salvation through his baptism with the purifying fire of God's judgment through the Holy Spirit. In Baptism, a Christian dies to their former lives of sin, and rises to a new life with Christ.

REFLECTION: Am I filled with expectation for Christ's coming in my life? How am I preparing my mind and heart?



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1/27/13 9:04 P

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I understand how you feel and I know that I am not always able to say" yes" when i should. I am always amazed at how easy it is for some of the people in the bible, like mary, to say "yes" without much of a second thought. perhaps because of the cynical world we live and because of a need to increase my own faith, i don't say yes as readily

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1/26/13 9:59 P

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Do I ponder within my heart all that God has done for us through Jesus? Am I able to say "Yes" to God despite adversity?

This is quite a difficult question to answer. Do I ponder what God has done for me? I do when I give thanks to God for all he has given me. I don't do this on a daily basis. I know I should but don't. Am I able to say "Yes" to God despite adversity? Not always. Sometimes it is difficult to say yes to God when things are tough. Many times I have to fight the urge to have things my way instead of God's. I know he has a plan for me, but, when his plan does not agree with mine, it makes it difficult to say yes to God's plan. I pray to one day have the strength to say yes no matter what.

Barbara

We are still masters of our fate.
We are still captains of our souls.
Winston Churchill

If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes.
St. Clement of Alexandra


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1/26/13 9:31 P

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I, too, have to make the time to spend with God. I have had the pleasure to take as an elective in college a biblical literature class. I am in my last week of the class and I must say that it has given me a great deal to ponder. It has brought me closer to God and deepened my faith. I will be reading on this week in Luke. I kind of got ahead. I read to 2:27. I love the Song of Mary. It is one of the most moving verses in the new testament. I love when she says, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, All will call me blessed." It makes me realize why we pray to Mother Mary.

Barbara

We are still masters of our fate.
We are still captains of our souls.
Winston Churchill

If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes.
St. Clement of Alexandra


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1/21/13 11:23 A

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I know for me I must carve out time to focus on God and how He is working in my life. I find He does guide me, if I will but listen and act on His will.

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1/20/13 4:43 P

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Do I ponder within my heart all that God has done for us through Jesus?
I often thin k about what God has done for me--helping me get through a rough day, helping me to avoid being in a tragic accident or hitting someone who happens to be walking on the side of the road. I have to admit that I do not always ponder on what God has done for me through jesus, except of course, around Lent and Easter. i think that's more of me needing to be at the center of attention (although, in reality, I HATE being the center of attention). I will say it time and agian until it becomes a fact of my life--"He must increase, I must decrease". I think when I finally reach that level I will truly appreciate what jesus has done for me.

Am I able to say "Yes" to God despite adversity? I think so--but this question definitely warrants more reflection on my part.



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1/19/13 10:05 P

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Week 3:
READ LUKE 1:57-- 2:21
KEY VERSE: "And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High, because you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways" (v 76).
TO STUDY: When Elizabeth gave birth to a son in her old age, friends and relatives alike rejoiced. When the child was eight days old, they gathered with the family for the rite of circumcision, a sign of God's covenant with Israel (Gn 17:1-4). Everyone assumed that the child would be named after his father Zechariah, but Elizabeth declared that their son was to be called "John" according to the angel's command (Lk 1:13). For centuries, the voice of the prophets was silent. That silence was broken with the voice of John the Baptist, the last and greatest of the prophets. This new era was symbolized by the loosening of the tongue of Zechariah (John's father). Zechariah became mute when he doubted the angel's announcement of the forthcoming birth of a son (Lk 1:20). On the day of John's circumcision (a rite incorporating the child as a member of the people of Israel, Gn 17:9-12), Zechariah obeyed the angel's command and named his son John meaning "Yahweh is gracious." Then Zechariah regained his voice and sang God's praises for having "visited his people with redemption" (v 68). Like the canticle of Mary, this "Benedictus" was a compilation of Scripture and Jewish prayers. This child was destined to be a prophet of the Most High preparing the way for the coming of the Messiah. God had visited the people with loving-kindness and mercy. God's promise of salvation would be fulfilled in the person and ministry of Jesus Christ, the "daybreak from on high" (v 78). The light of Christ would shatter the darkness that overshadowed the people (Is 60:1), and guide them on the pathway to peace. The people were amazed, wondering what would become of this favored child of God. This special child had been chosen to be a voice announcing the coming of the Messiah.
Luke situated Jesus' birth in history during the reign of Caesar Augustus, Rome's first emperor (27 BCE - 14 CE), who was credited with establishing a long-lasting time of peace, the "Pax Romano." Caesar ordered all citizens to return to their birthplace for a census. Since Joseph was of the house of David, Mary and Joseph obeyed the law of Rome by going to Bethlehem (Hebrew, "house of bread"), King David's ancestral home (Micah 5:1).
In Luke's narration of the birth of Jesus, there is what is called an interpenetration of mysteries. One cannot think of the nativity without being reminded of the passion. Jesus came to his own, but they refused to receive him - there was no room for him in the inn or in the hearts of the people. Mary wrapped her "first-born son" in "swaddling clothes" and laid him in a "manger" (Greek: "phaten" a cleft in a rock; Lk 2:7). Similarly, Jesus' body would be wrapped in a "linen cloth" and laid in a "rock hewn tomb" (Lk 23:53). Just as Jesus was the "first born of the dead" (Co 1:18), all the faithful would be reborn with him through his dying and rising (Ro 8:29). Through Jesus' birth and death, redemption came to the world. God's favor was bestowed on the poor and lowly when the good news was proclaimed to humble shepherds. Jesus came into the world to establish God's reign and promote true peace. All the heavens gave glory to God for visiting the earth with peace and salvation.
As faithful Jews, Mary and Joseph obeyed the religious law of Israel by having their child circumcised on the eighth day after his birth (Lv 12:3). In this ceremony, a child entered into the religious life of the community and received his name, Jesus (Hebrew: Yeshua, "Yahweh saves"). Jesus' mission, to save the people from their sins, began on the "eighth day," the first day of the new creation of the people of God. Mary his mother was the model disciple. Like the Church, Mary received the word of God with faith, and pondered the meaning in her heart (Lk 2:19).
St. Irenaeus (200 BCE) saw in the book of Genesis the "protoevangelium" (Gn 3:15), the "first gospel," the good news of a redeemer for fallen humanity. The Church regards Mary as the "new Eve," whose "offspring," Jesus Christ, the one "born of a woman" (Gal 4:4), was destined to defeat the Evil One. At the Council of Ephesus in 431 CE, the Church gave Mary the title "Theotokos" meaning "God-bearer." This doctrine stated that the Blessed Mother was foreordained by God to be the Mother of the Divine Son. Since Mary conceived Jesus, true man and true God, she is truly the mother of the Incarnate Jesus, and therefore, the Mother of God. As mother of the divine Son she is also "Mother of the Church" (Pope Paul VI, 1964).
REFLECTION: Do I ponder within my heart all that God has done for us through Jesus? Am I able to say "Yes" to God despite adversity?


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1/12/13 9:25 P

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Lk 1: 26-56

KEY VERSE: "Behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed" (v 48).
TO STUDY: Mary (Hebrew: Miryam, the "exalted one") was accorded the greatest honor and privilege given to a Jewish woman, that of being the mother of the long-awaited Messiah. Gabriel, God's angelic messenger, was sent to the insignificant village of Nazareth to proclaim the most glorious event the world had ever known. Mary was told that she would bear the "Son of the Most High" (v 32) who would rule eternally over the "house of Jacob" (v 33) fulfilling the promises made to King David (2 Sm 7:16). As Mary pondered the joyful salutation to her, the messenger of God assured her not to be afraid as she had found favor with God. Mary's son was to be conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. He would be the child of the Most High God, the Holy One, the everlasting King of all the earth. Jesus' name (Hebrew: Yeshua) implied his mission -- the Savior of all people. Mary was God's obedient servant who responded to God's call to bear the Savior of the World with faithful submission to the will of God (fiat, "Let it be done").
Mary was given a sign to prove that "nothing was impossible with God" (v 37). The angel Gabriel declared that Mary's aged cousin Elizabeth was about to give birth, and she quickly traveled the four day journey to Ain Karim in the hill country of Judah. When King David danced in jubilation before the presence of God as he brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem (2 Sm 6:14). So too, the infant John lept for joy before the divine presence within the tabernacle of Mary's womb. Elizabeth was overwhelmed that Mary, the mother of her Lord, should come to her, echoing David's words "How can the ark of the LORD come into my care?" (2 Sm 6:9). Mary was the Arc of the New Covenant bearing her divine son Jesus in her womb. Elizabeth proclaimed Mary to be blessed for believing that God's promises to her would be fulfilled.
Mary's hymn of praise was reminiscent of the canticle of Hannah (1 Sm 2:8), in which she sang about the power of God and her own lowliness before her mighty God. She was God's humble handmaid, "servant Israel" (v 54), obedient to the Lord's command. She was an example of those whom Jesus declared blessed because of their purity of heart and desire to do what God required of them (Mt 5:3-10). Mary proclaimed God's mercy toward the lowly and God's judgment upon the arrogant. God would cast down the powerful rulers of this world and raise up the poor and defenseless. God would satisfy those who hungered for righteousness, and send away those who were self-satisfied. God fulfilled all the promises made to Abraham, and guaranteed continued faithfulness throughout the ages. The pledge that all generations would call Mary blessed was fulfilled in her title the "Blessed Mother." Her blessedness is a sign of the capacity of all people to bear the image and likeness of God.
REFLECTION: How do I respond to God's invitation to bring forth Jesus to the world?
Mary's Role in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church
When the Vatican II Council discussed the role of Mary in God's plan of salvation, they made the decision to include her in "The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church," the doctrine of the Mystical Body, the Church. While Mary is "clearly the mother of the members of Christ," she is a "wholly unique member of the church," a "type and outstanding model in faith and charity." Through her obedience to God's will, she is the "New Eve who placed her faith, not in the serpent of old but in God's messenger without wavering in doubt." Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the church imitates Mary's obedience and charity. Through Christian baptism, the Church brings forth children who are "conceived of the Spirit and born of God" (Lumen Gentium, Ch. VIII).


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1/9/13 3:42 P

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I guess I need to have "The talk" with my friend!!!!!!

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1/8/13 10:38 P

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I agree. I have never thought of myself as a "friend of God" because he is our Father. Maybe a friend of jesus? God's words do speak to me but not consistently and i think it's just me and how I may be reading the text and what i think I am getting out of it. I don't think you are practicing your faith "wrong"--to me that sounds as if you are questioning whether you are doing a specific rite in the correct manner. I think we should be living and breathing out faith, like it's second nature, like it's a part of us to the point where we don't even think of "practicing". That is a place I definitely want to be I know I am not there yet. Perhaps this year of faith will help me reach that goal. I have SOOOOO much work to do!

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Am I a friend of God? I never thought of our relationship as friends.. He is my Father, parents are not supposed to be our friends.. raised by nuns, i was taught that we are friendly TO Him but a friend to me is not somebody I must be disciplined by..

I think of the Trinity as my Supreme Parents.. those to whom I look to for love, guidance, salvation. Maybe my faith is being practiced wrongly....
what am I doing wrong?

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1/6/13 7:17 P

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FYI everyone. I was intially planning to put up daily readings for the bible study but i realized that that would be rather ambitious and time consuming and not allow proper time to focus and STUDY the text. So the rerading I posted will be the reading FOR THE WEEK and I'll post the next reading for week 2 on saturday.

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Here is today's reading for anyone who wants to get started. i have included the bible study reflection and questions from the daily Word of Life as well. i will post the rest of the weeks' readings later today.

Day 1: Lk 1: 1-25
KEY VERSE: "I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you" (v 3).
TO STUDY: Luke was a Gentile convert to Christianity who wrote his Gospel for other Gentile Christians. He wrote in Greek, the worldwide common (koine) language of his day. The opening passage sheds light on the inspiration of scripture. Luke wrote an inspired document; and yet Luke affirmed that it was the work of his careful historical research. Luke acknowledged his debt to eye-witnesses of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. True inspiration comes when the seeking human mind joins with the revealing Spirit of God. Luke wrote an orderly account intending to provide readers with an accurate story about Jesus. He addressed his writing to "Theophilus," (meaning "friend of God) who might have been a patron, but perhaps was a symbol for all who are "friends of God."
Like Matthew, Luke began his gospel with the narrative of the nativity to advance the question, "Who is Jesus?" Luke announced many themes that he would carry throughout his gospel: Jerusalem and the Temple, the journey, the universal call to salvation to men and women, rich and poor, and the importance of the Spirit. Luke would continue these themes in his second volume, "The Acts of the Apostles."
Luke situated his story of Jesus in history, "in the days of Herod, King of Judea" (v 5). Herod the Great was the son Antipater, a man from Idumea, and an Arabian princess. He was declared King of Judea by the Roman Senate in 40 BCE (Before the Christian Era), and boasted of being 'the emperor's friend'. Despite controversy from the Jews over his religious lineage and his relationship with Rome, Herod continued as king until his death in 4 BCE. Herod's accomplishments included enlarging the Temple in Jerusalem, and building the largest harbor in the Roman world. He alleviated a famine by lowering grain prices and helped support the Olympic Games. As friend and ally of the Romans Herod was not truly an independent king; however, Rome allowed him a domestic policy of his own, permiting his subjects to worship freely, and to be exempt from Rome's requirement to offer incense to the emperor's statue, to serve in the army, and to swear oaths in court.
Historical evidence depicts Herod as a ruthless man. He executed one of his ten wives for unfaithfulness, and three of his fourteen children for conspiring against him. There is a joke told by the Emperor Caesar Augustus that he'd rather be one of Herod's swine than one of his sons. Herod also put down dissent from his subjects. In 4 BCE, some Torah students smashed a golden eagle, which he ha placed at the Temple gate, which they viewed as idolatrous. Herod had them burned alive to set an example. At the time of Jesus' birth, Herod was an old man in ill health. He died of a long, debilitating illness between 4 and 1 BCE.
Luke presented parallel scenes (diptychs) of the angel's announcements of the births of John the Baptist and of Jesus. John's father was Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah, the eighth of the twenty-four divisions of priests that were chosen by lot to serve in the Jerusalem Temple for twice a year, a week at a time. While burning incense in the sanctuary, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of a son to Zechariah. The child would be named John meaning "Yahweh is Gracious." John was chosen to be God's prophet who would turn the hearts of the people back to the Lord (Mal 3:23). Zechariah questioned the validity of the promise. He was of advanced age, and his wife Elizabeth was barren (like many of Israel's matriarchs such as Abraham's wife Sarah, Isaac's wife Rebekah, Jacob's wife Rachel and Hannah, and the mother of the prophet Samuel). Because Zechariah doubted the divine messenger, he was made mute until the birth of his son. Paradoxically, John would be God's "voice" announcing the coming of the Messiah.
REFLECTION: Do I consider myself a "friend of God"? Do I believe the words God speaks to me?
(above is from the Daily Word of Life by Kay Murdy)


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Here we are at the start of a new year and the start of a new bible study. This bible study will focus on the gospel of luke. I will be posting readings weekly and links to commentaries from "The Daily Word of Life" and the United States Conference of catholic Bishops. Questions and Comments are most definitely encouraged. I will post the first week of readings tomorrow. below is an introduction to the Gospel of Luke from the USCCB:

The Gospel according to Luke is the first part of a two-volume work that continues the biblical history of God’s dealings with humanity found in the Old Testament, showing how God’s promises to Israel have been fulfilled in Jesus and how the salvation promised to Israel and accomplished by Jesus has been extended to the Gentiles. The stated purpose of the two volumes is to provide Theophilus and others like him with certainty—assurance—about earlier instruction they have received (Lk 1:4). To accomplish his purpose, Luke shows that the preaching and teaching of the representatives of the early church are grounded in the preaching and teaching of Jesus, who during his historical ministry (Acts 1:21–22) prepared his specially chosen followers and commissioned them to be witnesses to his resurrection and to all else that he did (Acts 10:37–42). This continuity between the historical ministry of Jesus and the ministry of the apostles is Luke’s way of guaranteeing the fidelity of the Church’s teaching to the teaching of Jesus.

Luke’s story of Jesus and the church is dominated by a historical perspective. This history is first of all salvation history. God’s divine plan for human salvation was accomplished during the period of Jesus, who through the events of his life (Lk 22:22) fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies (Lk 4:21; 18:31; 22:37; 24:26–27, 44), and this salvation is now extended to all humanity in the period of the church (Acts 4:12). This salvation history, moreover, is a part of human history. Luke relates the story of Jesus and the church to events in contemporary Palestinian (Lk 1:5; 3:1–2; Acts 4:6) and Roman (Lk 2:1–2; 3:1; Acts 11:28; 18:2, 12) history for, as Paul says in Acts 26:26, “this was not done in a corner.” Finally, Luke relates the story of Jesus and the church to contemporaneous church history. Luke is concerned with presenting Christianity as a legitimate form of worship in the Roman world, a religion that is capable of meeting the spiritual needs of a world empire like that of Rome. To this end, Luke depicts the Roman governor Pilate declaring Jesus innocent of any wrongdoing three times (Acts 23:29; 25:25; 26:31–32). At the same time Luke argues in Acts that Christianity is the logical development and proper fulfillment of Judaism and is therefore deserving of the same toleration and freedom traditionally accorded Judaism by Rome (Acts 13:16–41; 23:6–9; 24:10–21; 26:2–23).

The prominence given to the period of the church in the story has important consequences for Luke’s interpretation of the teachings of Jesus. By presenting the time of the church as a distinct phase of salvation history, Luke accordingly shifts the early Christian emphasis away from the expectation of an imminent parousia to the day-to-day concerns of the Christian community in the world. He does this in the gospel by regularly emphasizing the words “each day” (Lk 9:23; cf. Mk 8:34; Lk 11:3; 16:19; 19:47) in the sayings of Jesus. Although Luke still believes the parousia to be a reality that will come unexpectedly (Lk 12:38, 45–46), he is more concerned with presenting the words and deeds of Jesus as guides for the conduct of Christian disciples in the interim period between the ascension and the parousia and with presenting Jesus himself as the model of Christian life and piety.

Throughout the gospel, Luke calls upon the Christian disciple to identify with the master Jesus, who is caring and tender toward the poor and lowly, the outcast, the sinner, and the afflicted, toward all those who recognize their dependence on God (Lk 4:18; 6:20–23; 7:36–50; 14:12–14; 15:1–32; 16:19–31; 18:9–14; 19:1–10; 21:1–4), but who is severe toward the proud and self-righteous, and particularly toward those who place their material wealth before the service of God and his people (Lk 6:24–26; 12:13–21; 16:13–15, 19–31; 18:9–14, 15–25; cf. Lk 1:50–53). No gospel writer is more concerned than Luke with the mercy and compassion of Jesus (Lk 7:41–43; 10:29–37; 13:6–9; 15:11–32). No gospel writer is more concerned with the role of the Spirit in the life of Jesus and the Christian disciple (Lk 1:35, 41; 2:25–27; 4:1, 14, 18; 10:21; 11:13; 24:49), with the importance of prayer (Lk 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:28; 11:1–13; 18:1–8), or with Jesus’ concern for women (Lk 7:11–17, 36–50; 8:2–3; 10:38–42). While Jesus calls all humanity to repent (Lk 5:32; 10:13; 11:32; 13:1–5; 15:7–10; 16:30; 17:3–4; 24:47), he is particularly demanding of those who would be his disciples. Of them he demands absolute and total detachment from family and material possessions (Lk 9:57–62; 12:32–34; 14:25–35). To all who respond in faith and repentance to the word Jesus preaches, he brings salvation (Lk 2:30–32; 3:6; 7:50; 8:48, 50; 17:19; 19:9) and peace (Lk 2:14; 7:50; 8:48; 19:38, 42) and life (Lk 10:25–28; 18:26–30).

Early Christian tradition, from the late second century on, identifies the author of this gospel and of the Acts of the Apostles as Luke, a Syrian from Antioch, who is mentioned in the New Testament in Col 4:14, Phlm 24 and 2 Tm 4:11. The prologue of the gospel makes it clear that Luke is not part of the first generation of Christian disciples but is himself dependent upon the traditions he received from those who were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word (Lk 1:2). His two-volume work marks him as someone who was highly literate both in the Old Testament traditions according to the Greek versions and in Hellenistic Greek writings.

Among the likely sources for the composition of this gospel (Lk 1:3) were the Gospel of Mark, a written collection of sayings of Jesus known also to the author of the Gospel of Matthew (Q; see Introduction to Matthew), and other special traditions that were used by Luke alone among the gospel writers. Some hold that Luke used Mark only as a complementary source for rounding out the material he took from other traditions. Because of its dependence on the Gospel of Mark and because details in Luke’s Gospel (Lk 13:35a; 19:43–44; 21:20; 23:28–31) imply that the author was acquainted with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70, the Gospel of Luke is dated by most scholars after that date; many propose A.D. 80–90 as the time of composition.

Luke’s consistent substitution of Greek names for the Aramaic or Hebrew names occurring in his sources (e.g., Lk 23:33; Mk 15:22; Lk 18:41; Mk 10:51), his omission from the gospel of specifically Jewish Christian concerns found in his sources (e.g., Mk 7:1–23), his interest in Gentile Christians (Lk 2:30–32; 3:6, 38; 4:16–30; 13:28–30; 14:15–24; 17:11–19; 24:47–48), and his incomplete knowledge of Palestinian geography, customs, and practices are among the characteristics of this gospel that suggest that Luke was a non-Palestinian writing to a non-Palestinian audience that was largely made up of Gentile Christians.

The principal divisions of the Gospel according to Luke are the following:
I.The Prologue (1:1–4)
II.The Infancy Narrative (1:5–2:52)
III.The Preparation for the Public Ministry (3:1–4:13)
IV.The Ministry in Galilee (4:14–9:50)
V.The Journey to Jerusalem: Luke’s Travel Narrative (9:51–19:27)
VI.The Teaching Ministry in Jerusalem (19:28–21:38)
VII.The Passion Narrative (22:1–23:56)
VIII.The Resurrection Narrative (24:1–53)


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