The Gospel According to Luke – Presentation and Finding in the Temple

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

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

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

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

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The Gospel According to Luke – The Census and the Nativity

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

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

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

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The Gospel According to Luke – Annunciation, Canticles and God’s Preparation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Gospel According to Luke – John the Baptist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Gospel According to Luke – Introduction

Laying a firm foundation for the Gospel of Luke will allow for a much greater appreciation of this incredible book, which is written in the unique literary form of the gospels: not a biography of Jesus but more of a "snapshot" narration of specific events in his life. We refer to Luke as a synoptic gospel, a term that means "of the same viewpoint," because Luke’s account shares nearly three-quarters of the same material with those of Matthew and Mark. All three are seemingly derived from the same Apostolic outline of Jesus’ life. Right from the outset he speaks of his desire to clarify the truth amidst various gospel accounts describing the story of
Jesus. The only Gentile writer in all of the Bible, Luke writes in
an elegant, well-educated Greek that is reminiscent of the best Greek of the Septuagint. He is also undoubtedly the author of the Acts of the Apostles. A humble man, one whom Paul referred to as the "beloved physician," Luke hailed from the great cultural and economic center of Antioch, a major early Christian city known as the great mother of churches (Col 4:14).

A masterful mid-first century historian, Luke’s gospel is the product of his painstaking
research during the many years in which he accompanied Paul in his
travels. Relying on eyewitness and historical accounts from
individuals who saw Christ and others who were then residing in Palestine, Syria and Asia Minor,
he writes to Theophilus, "lover of God," which could refer to either a generic Christian reader
or to a specific individual. Although some scholars date Luke’s gospel later,
the date of composition may have been earlier than 64 A.D. In either
case, he writes to a Christian who has already received
basic catechesis, attempting to instruct with greater surety the
truth of the Christian message.

A convert himself, Luke
expresses the depths of God’s universal mercy, who "come[s] to
seek and to save the lost" throughout the entire world and
excludes no one (19:10). He stresses Christ’s unique compassion for
the poor, the broken-hearted, and the outcast and also focuses on Jesus’ interaction with women, a rarity among Jewish literature of any time. Luke’s unique infancy narrative, which contains several Canticles and
the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, reflects a deep perspective on the Holy Family
and the heart of Mary. And his many parables (Luke has more parables
than any other gospel) project a picture of Jesus Christ which we can savor through prayerful reading.

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Men’s Breakfast – November 2007

When Todd Duncan, a 22 year-old cradle Catholic from Erie, PA, was growing
up everyone thought him to be the model young parishioner who had a
marked maturity in his faith. Todd thought so, too. Everything changed
when he entered his first year at the Rochester Institute of Technology
and realized that his Protestant friends had a much better grasp than he
did on matters of faith, the Bible and even theology. But God’s
grace led Todd to true fellowship, to the St. Irenaeus Center and to a
profound love of the Catholic Church.

Dick Graham, a cradle Catholic and president of the Rochester, NY
Hibernian Society for Irish Americans, speaks on a subject very dear to
his heart: Roman Catholic apologetics. Admittedly a former "BIC," or
"Bible Ignorant Catholic," it was not until he had to defend his
daughter’s faith that he began to study apologetics. He discusses the
history of Catholic apologetics and practical ways to study and also
reminds us of the charge of St. Peter, who wrote in his first Epistle,
"Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to
account for the hope that is within you, yet do it with gentleness and

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The Conversion of Joseph Pearce

Joseph Pearce was born the son of a fierce anti-Catholic in the late
1960s. Hear the story of how God’s grace carried a young, uneducated
"agnostic Protestant bigot" who was "racist to the core" into the
Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church.

Now a professor of English Literature at Ave Maria University
and the author of 147 books, including notable autobiographies of 20th
Century’s greatest Catholic writers, his conversion is a story of
providence triumphing over political anger, racial hatred and
violence. While serving his first prison sentence for "publishing
material likely to incite racial hatred" Pearce began to read GK
Chesterton. He felt the "rug being pulled out from underneath his
prejudices" because he could not defeat Chesterton’s arguments in
economics and theology. During a second prison sentence he began to
pray, and from that point it was only a matter of time before he was
brought into the Church.

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The Conversion of St. Augustine

Dr. RJ Stansbury’s talk from the 2007 Chesterton Conference discusses the crucial role that monasticism played in the conversion of St. Augustine.

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