Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Gospel of Luke: Chapter One

Luke Chapter 1
1:1-4 – Prologue
1:5-25 – The Annunciation of John
1:26-38 – The Annunciation of Jesus
1:39-45 – The Visitation
1:46-56 – The Canticle of Mary
1:57-66 – The Nativity of John
1:67-80 – The Canticle of Zechariah

Instructions
Answer as many questions as you can. Write down other questions you might have, or interesting things you learned and read that are not covered in the questions.

Questions for Interpretation
1. Verse 5 – What does the name Zechariah mean? What does the name Elizabeth mean? What is significant about them being from the tribe of Aaron?



2. Verses 6-7 – What other important women in the Bible were barren? Barrenness was regarded as punishment for sin according to Jewish people. Why did God allow righteous Zechariah and Elizabeth to be barren?



Interesting note: Being chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord was something that could only happen to you once in your life, if ever. Therefore, it was not mere chance or coincidence that Zechariah was chosen, but Divine Providence.

3. Verses 8-11 – Compare these verses with Revelation 8:3-4.



Interesting note: It must be terrifying to see an angel, because the first thing they always tell the people is to not be afraid.

4. Verses 13-15a – What does the name John mean? What is significant about John not drinking wine or strong drink? What other Old Testament figures took this vow?



5. Verses 15b-17 – Compare these verses to Malachi 3:1a and 3:23-24.



Interesting note: John the Baptist and Elijah even dressed alike wearing a hairy garment and leather belt. See 2 Kings 1:7-8 and Matthew 3:4. They both had the same mission to of trying to get the people to repent and turn to God.

6. Verses 18-20 – Besides the answer to his prayers, what gift did Gabriel offer to Zechariah, which he was oblivious to? Why did Gabriel make Zechariah mute?



Interesting note: The people were amazed at how long he stayed in the sanctuary, because they thought he had offended God, and God struck him dead. Also, we have to assume that Gabriel visited Elizabeth as well and told her of God's plans. Otherwise, it would have been an interesting note Zechariah wrote to Elizabeth telling her why he can't talk and that they are to have a son.

7. Verse 26 – What is the six month referring to?



8. Verse 27 – What is significant about Joseph being from the house of David?



9. Verses 26-38 – How is Mary’s questioning of Gabriel different than Zechariah’s? Compare and contrast the two annunciations. (Luke 1:11-20 and Luke 1:26-38)



10. Verse 41 – How was John able to identify that Mary was filled with the Messiah?



11. Verses 42-45 – Compare these verses to 2 Samuel 6:9-11, 14-16. What item pre-figures Mary in this passage? Why is this significant?



Interesting note: The old Ark of the Covenant contained the 10 Commandments (the word of God inscribed in stone), Aaron's rod, and manna. The new Ark of the Covenant contained Jesus who is the Word of God in flesh, the true High Priest, and the Bread of Life. No one knows what happened to the Ark of the Covenant after Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and the First Temple. However, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church claims to possess it. That is why you will find a replica of the original ark in every Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

12. Verses 46-56 – Mary’s gives God praise for three things. What are they? Read 1 Samuel 2:1-10, and see how Hannah’s song is similar to Mary’s.



13. Verse 59 – According to Jewish numerology, the number 8 symbolizes salvation and new beginnings. What does the number 8 mean to Catholics? (See Catechism 2174.)



14. Verses 60-64 –Why was Zechariah’s voice restored?



Interesting note: Why didn't Elizabeth just tell the people that God said to call him John or that Zechariah said to call him such? Why were they amazed that Zechariah also wanted to call his son John?

15. Verses 68-79 – What images stand out to you as significant in Zechariah’s canticle?



16. Verse 80 – Read Isaiah 40:3. Why do you think John went to go live in the desert until his ministry?



Interesting note: John the Baptist would have also been one of the male children Herod ordered to be killed (the Holy Innocents). According to tradition, Elizabeth and John fled to the desert and a mountain opened revealing a cave to hide them in. Herod’s soldiers came to Zechariah looking for John, but he refused to give up their location, so they killed him at the Temple altar (Luke 11:51). Elizabeth died while John was still a child, and it was said that an angel ministered to him until the time of his ministry.

Questions for Reflection
1. Verses 11-13 – Have I ever had prayer answered after I had given up hope and stopped praying?
2. Verses 14-15 – When did God select me for his service? How have I been equipped to carry out my service?
3. Verse 29 – How have I reacted when I have experienced God’s special favor or call? How did it change the way I think of myself?
4. Verse 35 – What does it mean to me that Jesus is the Son of God?
5. Verses 36-37 – When or how do I place limits on what God can do? Or what God can do for me?
6. Verse 45 – How eager am I to embrace the word of God? How is Mary a model for me?
7. Verses 46-55 – How can Mary’s prayer serve as a model for my prayers?
8. Verses 70-72 – How have I experienced God’s mercy and love?

The reflection questions were taken from Bringing the Gospel of Luke to Life by George Martin and used with permission from Our Sunday Visitor. For commentary and more reflection questions, purchase the book. It's great!