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DISCOVERING

 

CHRIST   AT    CHRISTMAS

 

 

 

 

A four-part Bible Study Programme
on the Infancy Narratives

for Bible Study Groups

during the season of Advent

 

 

 

 

 

Prepared or Ministers of the Word
    
of the Archdiocese of Bombay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fr.Leslie J. Ratus


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONTENTS

0.    Introduction

1.    Prepaation for the Programme                                                              1

1.1.     Preparation of the Parish

1.2.     Your preparation

2.                                    The objective of the Programme                                            ,             2

3.    The teaming method followed in the Programme                             2

4.    The structure of the Pogramme                                                             2

5.     Background knowledge on the Infancy Narratives                          3

5.1.     The Gospels are not histoial documents but faith

documents

5.2.     Three stages in the scholarship on the

Infancy Narratives

5.3.     The three layers of Gospel material

5.4.     Why did Matthew and Luke include the

Infancy stories in their Gospel accounts?

6.    Final observations on conducting each session                                  7

6.1.      Before the session

6.2.      During the session

1.    Session 1:   Introduction and the birth of Jesus in Matthew 1.

1.    Introduction                                                                                            10

2.    The Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke                                 11

2.1.      The term "Infancy Narrative"

2.2.     Only Mt's and Lk's Gospels have an

Infancy Narrative

2.3.      The Infancy Narrative is the Gospel in miniature

2.4.     Chart showing the structure of each

Infancy Narrative

3.    The Birth of Jesus in Matthew 1                                                          13

3.1.     The Genealogy of Jesus

3.2.      The Annunciation to Joseph

4.     Conclusion                                                                                              18

Appendix I: The Perpetual Virginity of Mary                                           20

Appendix II: Structure of Matthew's and Luke's

Infancy Narratives                                                                 24


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.        Session 2: The birth of Jesus in Luke 1.

1.         Introduction                                                                                             25

2.     The Birth of John                                                                                    25

2.1.       The annunciation to Zechariah

2.2.      The person and mission of John

2.3.       The significance of the Temple

2.4.       The growth of John

2.5.       Conclusion

3.          The Announcement of the Bith of Jesus                                  „,....   28

3.1.       The annunciation to Mary

3.2.      The person and mission of Jesus

3.3.       Mary

4.        Conclusion .:                          .'„                                                      ,                           31

3.         Session 3: Response to the birth of Jesus in Mathew 2

1.         Introduction                                                                                             33

2.         Acceptance and Rejection of Jesus                                                     34

2.1.      A twofold response

2.2.      Acceptance: The Magi and the Star

2.3.       Rejection: The secular and religious leaders

3.        Further Insights into the person of Jesus                                             36

3.1.      Jesus is the new Moses

3.2.      Jesus is the new Israel

4.          Our response to the bith of Jesus                                                          38

4.        Session 4: Reponse to the bith of Jesus in Luke 2

1.         Introduction                                                                                             40

2.        The Bith of Jesus and the Gensus                                                        41

2.1.      The Bith of Jesus

2.2.      The fact of the Census

2.3.       The significance of the Census     

3.          Response to the Good News of Jesus' Birth                                       42

3.1.      The "poor of Yahweh*

3.2.      The shepherds

3.3.      Simeon

3.4.      Anna '

3.5.      Mary

4.. Our response to the Bith of Jesus                                                            44


 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION: 1

 

0. INTRODUCTION

In prepaing and conducting this four-part Bible Study Programme during the season of Advent, it would be helpful to keep the following points in mind.

1.   PREPARATION FOR THE PROGRAMME

Preparation for the Advent Programme involves two considerations:

(1) Preparation of the parish, and (2) Your preparation as the one who is going to conduct the Programme.

1.1. Preparation of the Parish

The goal of (his preparation is to motivate parishioners to want to discover the true meaning of the birth of Jesus through the study of the Bible. How may such a preparation take place?

1.         CREATE an attractive title for the Programme. We have

suggested the title, 'Discovering Christ at Christmas." You may come up with a better title.

2.     OBTAIN THE PERMISSION of the Pansh Piest to hold the

Programme in the parish.

3.     DECIDE ON:

(a) YOUR TARGET GROUP: This group may be the
         
paishioners in general, or the parishioners of a zone,
         
or a parish association, or any other.

(b) THE DAY OF THE SESSION: This has to be according
         
to the convenience of your target group. If everyone
         
who shows interest in the Programme cannot come on
         
one day in the week, then have two different days: you
         
conduct the programme on one day and let someone
         
else to do so on the other day.

(c) THE LENGTH OF EACH SESSION: The length of each
        
Session may be 60 or 90 minutes. [This booklet gives
        
you matter for a 90-minute session]. You need to
        
communicate this information to your target group in
        
advance. This will help them schedule their time during
        
AdvenL

(d) FINANCES: Money is needed for two items: material
        
and refreshments. From where will you get this money:
        
from the Paish Funds (does the Parish Priest agree to
        
this?) or from sponsors?


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2: INTRODUCTION

4.     PUBLICIZE the Progamme in your parish through any of

the following ways: (a) Announcements: Pulpit and Parish Bulletin; (b) Paish Pastoral Council; (c) Parish Associations;

(d) Wall or Notice Board Posters; (e) Leaflets; (f) Personal Contacts; (g) Testimony at the Parish Euchaist by one who has participated in the Programme the previous year.

1.2. Your preparation

1.         STUDY the-material provided in this Booklet. Familiarize

yourself as thoroughly as possible with it so that it becomes pat of you. Then, when the time comes, you will speak from the abundance of your heart.

2.     Be clear on:

(a) the OBJECTIVE and METHOD to be followed in con¬
         ducting the entire Programme. [See 2 and 3 below].

(b) the EXPERIENCE of the Word that you wish the
        
participants to have in each of the four sessions.

3.        Before the day of the commencement of each session

ORGANIZE all the material aids you will require for the session.

2.   THE OBJECTIVE OF THE PROGRAMME

The objective of the seies is to EXPOSE the paticipants to the central truths contained in the Infancy Narratives and to lead them to RESPOND to those truths in their lives. "Blessed ... are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" (Lk 11:28).

3.     THE LEARNING METHOD FOLLOWED IN THE PROGRAMME

The method encouraged in this Programme is not a "teaching meth¬ od" in which one teaches and the others merely receive what is taught, but a 'learning method" in which one enables/facilitates others to discover for themselves the gospel truths about Jesus contained in the Infancy Narrative^.'-

Further, the learning method will comprise two aspects:

(t) firstly, it will enable the paticipants to HEAR the gospel truths in
       each Infancy Narrative; and

(2) secondly, it will encourage them to RESPOND to them.

4.   THE STRUCTURE OF THE PROGRAMME

In the light of the Programme objective the four-week seies is divided as follows:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION: 3

Session 1: Introduction and the birth of Jesus in Matthew's Infancy
                    
Narrative (Mt ch.1).

Session 2: The bith of Jesus in Luke's Infancy Narrative (Lk ch.1). Session 3: Response to the bith of Jesus in Mathew's Infancy Nar¬
                    
rative (Mt ch.2).

Session 4: Reponse to the birth of Jesus in Luke's Infancy Narrative
                    
(Lkch.2).

5.    BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE ON THE INFANCY NARRATIVES

This section presents mateial on the Infancy Narratives which you will NOT communicate to the group but which you must know as pat of your general biblical knowledge on the Infancy Narratives. This note is based on Raymond Brown's Introduction to his book: "An Adult Christ at Christmas" (1978:1-9).

5.1. The Gospels are not histoical documents but faith documents
       
The Pontifical Biblical Commission issued its Instruction on "The
        Historical Truth of the Gospels' (1964). [A full English translation
       
and commentary was given by J.ARtzmyer, in Theological
       
Studies, "25(1964) :386-408. A copy of this aticle is available on
       
payment of Rs.6].

According to the Instruction:

(1) The Gospels are historical in the sense that the four ac¬
       
counts of the ministry of Jesus look their origin in the words
       
and deeds of Jesus.

(2) But the words and deeds of Jesus underwent considerable
      
adaptation from the time of Jesus' ministry until the time
      
when they witten down in the Gospels!

* First, there was the period of oral transmission, when the
    
apostles preached what Jesus had said and done, but
    
they infused their preaching with a post-resurrectiona!
    
insight into his divinity - an insight they had not when he
    
was alive.

* Then, when the evangelists committed the Gospel to
    
witing, there was a further selection, synthesis and ex¬
    
plication of the accounts that had come down from apos¬
    
tolic preaching.

* The result was that the final Gospel narratives of Jesus'
    
life and ministry are not necessaily literal accounts of
    
what Jesus did and said.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4: INTRODUCTION

Hence: in the course of transmission from Jesus to the evangel¬ ists, alt Gospel mateial has been coloured by the faith and expeience of the Church of the first century.

5.2. Three stages h the scholarship on the Infancy Narratives

Writing in 1978, Raymond Brown proposes that scholarship on the infancy narratives had passed through two stages and was enteing a third stage.

(1)   In the first stage scholars recognized that the material on the

bith and infancy of Jesus had a different origin from the material concening Jesus' ministry. We know that the sub¬ stance of the ministry mateial came from apostolic tes¬ imony. But we simply do not know whose testimony, if anyone's, suppoted a story like that of the magi and the star. In the past, this testimony was said to be that of Joseph and Mary but that was simply a guess. As biblical scholarship progressed that guess became more and more difficult to sustain.

(2)   The second stage involved study of the infancy stoies taken

separately from the rest of the Gospels. Such a study revealed an overall striking fact: that Matthew and Luke tell two very different stories of Jesus' bith and infancy.

The two stories agree in very few details: ■* the names of Joseph, Mary and Jesus; * Jesus' bith at Bethlehem; and
* the virginal conception of Jesus.

The two stoies disagree and almost contradict one another in other details:

* The most notorious discrepancy is between Mt's account
    
of a flight to Egypt in face of Herod's persecution, and Lk's
    
account of a peaceful return to Nazareth through
    
Jerusalem without the slightest mention of Herod.
 
* Mt' thinks that the home of Mary and Joseph was in
    
Bethlehem (2:11), so that he has to explain why, when
    
they came back from Egypt, they went to Nazareth. For
    
LK they came from Nazareth in the first place (126-27),
    
and he has to explain how Jesus came to be bom in
    
Bethlehem.

A complicating factor was the impossibility of substantiating some of tne stating events which should have attracted


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION : 5

public notice and which should have been noted in the records of the time:

* A star that moved through the heavens in a totally
    
irregular way.

* Herod's slaughter of the children in Bethlehem.

* The universal census of the Roman Empire under
    
Augustus.

There have been many ingenious attempts to "prove" these as facts, but these have been unsuccessful in Brown's judgment

The resulting doubts about historicity were aggravated when it was recognized that the infancy stoies echo OT stories to an extent unparalleled in the rest of the Gospels. They were sometimes conceived to have arisen through meditation on OT motifs, a process to which the name "midrash' was frequently applied (and not always with a real understanding of "midrash"). Such doubts could have been expressed in such questions as: Were there magi? Was there a star? Was there a census? Did angels appear to shepherds?

(3)        The third stage involves a more positive approach. Without

neglecting the histoical problems uncovered in the previous stage, scholars have turned their attention to the theology of the. infancy narratives. If Mt and Lk included these stories in their respective Gospels it was because they were in har¬ mony with their respective theology. Just as a composer sounds the basic theme of his musical composition in the "Overture" which he develops in the rest of his composition, so also Mt and Lk sound the; basic themes of the Good News in their respective infancy narratives which they develop in the rest of their Gospels.

5.3. The three layers of Gospel mateial

(1) The oldest preaching of the Good News concened the
       
safvific action par excellence: the death-resurrection of
       
Jesus Thus, the passion narrative was the oldest pat of the
       
gospel tradition. (Acts 2:32,36; 5:31; Rom 1:4).

(2) To the passion narrative were eventually added collections
       
of the words and deeds of Jesus, precisely because in the
       
tight of the resurrection the true saving impotance of the
       
words and deeds duing the ministry of Jesus became clear.
       
Christian penetration of the mystery of Jesus illuminated the


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6: INTRODUCTION

fact that he was already Lord and Messiah duing his lifetime, so that the resurrection was the unveiling of a divine sonship that was already there.

Thus, for the oldest witten Gospel, that of Mark, the chistological moment has moved from the resurrection to the bapism, where Jesus is designated by divine revelation as God's Son. The Hofy Spirit, which in early Chistian ex¬ peience was associated with the isen Jesus, now des¬ cends on him at the baptism and remains with him duing his ministry. Mark called the baptism of Jesus the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ": the beginnng of the gospel was equated with the beginning of the preaching of the Kingdom of God.

(3) Finally, to the above two layers was added the Infancy
      
Narrative.

5.4. Why did Matthew and Luke include the Infancy stories in their
       
Gospel accounts?

(a) Why did Mt and Lk move the beginning of the gospel of Jesus
      
Chist from the baptism of Jesus back to his conception?

The answer lies in this: they saw the significance of Jesus already in his conception and bith. For them, not the baptism but the conception and bith constituted the moment when God revealed who Jesus was.

When did Jesus become God's Son? at the resurrection? at the baptism? The infancy narrath/e make clear that Jesus was God's Son duing his whole eathly life, from the moment

of his conception through the Holy Spiit Thus the story of Jesus' conception is not a biographical Rem, but a vehicle of the good news of salvation; in shot, rt is gospel.

(b) Both Infancy Narratives have the following structure:

* The first chapter Both in Mt and in Lk the first chapter of
    
he Gospel narrates the story of the conception of Jesus
    
with the accompanying revelation of who he is.
 
* The second chapter

- Ater the resurrection of Jesus the apostles went forth
    
and proclaimed the good news, first to Jews and then
    
to Gentiles. This proclamation was met by a twofold
    
response: some believed and came to worship the
    
exalted Lord Jesus; others rejected both the message


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTHODUCTION: 7

and the preachers.

- When the evangelists looked back into the life of Jesus .
    
with their faith in his resurrection, they could see the
    
same phenomenon from the time of his baptism. Jesus
    
proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom and this led
    
to a twofold response: some accepted him and be¬
    
came his disciples; others rejected him and came to
    
hate him.

- When Mt and Lk told stoies ofthe conception and birth
     of Jesus, they followed the same sequence. In the
    
second chapter of each infancy narrative we hear how
     the good news was proclaimed to others and how that
     proclamation met a twofold response.

6.   FINAL OBSERVATIONS ON CONDUCTING EACH SESSION

6.1. Before the session:

(1) See that the room and seating arrangements for the session
       
have been attended to so that you wont have to waste
       
session time on this.

(2) Have all the mateial (chalk, pictures, chats, etc.) that you
       
wilt require for the session at hand and in place.

(3) Have an Advent Wreath at every session prominently placed
       in the room. At the commencement of each session, the
      
lighting of a candle of the wreath will conclude the introduc¬
      
tory Drawer.

(4) If you are providing refreshments duing the Session Break
      
arrange that someone will see that these are ready at the
      
time of the Break.

6.2. Duing the session:

(1) Remember that you are using the discovery method. There¬
        fore, enable the participants to discover - as far as they, are able and within the time limit scheduled forthe different pats
       
of the session - the truths for themselves. No doubt, you will,
       
whenever necessary, impat to them such knowledge that
       
they will need to understand the text But, ater you have
       
done that, invite them to read the text for themselves, find
       
the appropriate verses, and discover the truths contained in
        them.

(2) Encourage as much participation as possible. Though you
      
will have one eye on the clock - so that you cover the matter


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION: 9

 

'In this passage (LK 1:26-38) we are face to face with one of the great controversial doctrines of the Christian faith - the Virgin Birth. The church does hot insist that we believe in this doctine, let us look at the reasons for and against believing in it and then we may make our own decision* (Commentary on Luke: p. 12).

(2)   The perpetual virginity of Mary

'The fact that they called Jesus Mary's son tells us that Joseph must have been dead. Therein we have the key to one of the enigmas of Jesus' life. Jesus was only thity-three when he died; and yet he did not leave Nazareth until he was thirty (Lk 3:23). Why this long delay? Why this lingeing in Nazareth while a world waited to be saved? The reason was that Joseph died young and Jesus took upon himself the support of his mother and of his brothers and sisters; and only when they were old enough to fend for themselves did he go foth" (Com¬ mentary on Mark: p. 139-140; also Commentary on Matthew: p.41 and Commentary on Luke: p.39).

Brown, Raymond S.S.

1977 THE BIRTH OF THE MESSIAH. A Commentary on the Infancy
           
Narratives in Matthew and Luke. Image Books.

Doubleday & Co. Inc., Garden City, New York.

1978 AN ADULT CHRIST AT CHRISTMAS. Minnesota:
           
The Liturgical Press.

Fenandez, Erasto S.S.S.

1982   THE CHRISTMAS STORY: FACT OR FABLE?
           
SLPauts Publications, Bangalore.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10: SESSION 1

SESSION 1: INTRODUCTION AND THE BIRTH OF JESUS IN MATTHEW 1

 

OBJECTIVE: To introduce the participants to the Infancy Narratives and to enable them to discover the truths concerning God and Jesus, contained in chapter 1 of Mt's Infancy Narrative..

STRUCTURE OF THE SESSION:

1.         Introduction                                                        15 minutes

2.         The Infancy Narratives in Mt and Lk            25 minutes

Session Break                                                      10 minutes

3.         The Bith of Jesus in Mt 1                                  30 minutes

4.         Conclusion                                                           10 minutes

 

I.    INTRODUCTION

1.1. WELCOME the paticipants to the whole Programme and to this frst
        
session.

1.2. QUESTIONS:

(a) What does Chistinas mean for most Catholics?
       
[Let the participants share].

Their possible answers: new clothes, making and exchanging sweets (giving sweets to families in mourning), carol singing, attending "Midnight" Mass, making a crib and star, crib competi¬ tion, Christmas dance, Chistmas tree and stocking, sending cards, Christmas lunch or dinner, family reunion, redecorating and refunishing the house.

(b) Can you truly celebrate Chistmas without any of the above
       
activities? [Let the participants answer].

All these activities may be said to belong to the "external" celebration of Chistmas: they are activities that have been traditionally associated with the celebration of Christmas. But they are accidental to Christmas, for you can celebrate Christmas without any of the above activities.

(c) Why are you attending this Advent Programme? What do you
       
expect to get out of it? [Let the paticipants answer].

1.3. CONCLUDE:

(a) SAY: We are prepaing for Christmas, the feast which celebrates
       the bith of Jesus. Christmas is about Chist, Jesus Christ.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 1:11

Without Chist, Chistmas makes no sense. This seies of four sessions wiH help us to prepare ourselves to celebrate the feast in a truly Chistian manner to hear.the message of Christmas and respond to it

(b) PRAY: In prayer, call for God's blessing on the paticipants and
        the expectations that they have expressed duing this Introduc¬
       
tion peiod.

(c) LIGHT one candle on the Advent Wreath.

1.4. For the teacher In the first centuries of the Church the only feast celebrated
      
was Easter. This feast recalled and celebrated the central event in human
      
history: the death-resurrection of Jesus by which the "new and everlasting
      
covenant" was established between God and Man. Every time Chistians came
       together to celebrate the Eucharist they celebrated Easter. Easier remains the
       principal feast in the Chistian liturgical calendar. ThB celebration of Chistmas
       emerged only later in the history of the Church - in the 4th century AD.

II. THE INFANCY NARRATIVES IN MATTHEW AND LUKE

2.1. The term "Infancy Narrative"

TELL: The stoies surrounding the bith of Jesus are told to us in that section of the Gospels called the "Infancy Narrative" pN]. The term "Infancy Narrative" is made up of two words: (1) Narrative, and (2) Infancy.

QUESTION: What does each of the two terms mean?

(1) Narrative: What is a narrative?

A narrative is a story about an event or events.

(2) Infancy: Whose infancy are we talking about?
      
The infancy of Jesus.

CONCLUDE: Therefore, the IN contains stories surrounding the birth and the very early life of Jesus (pre-birth, birth, and post-birth stoies).

For the teacher Oo not bing up the question of the histoicity of the stories: did they really happen as they are narrated? Neither mention the word 'midrash.'1 In the limited time you have, you wilt not be able to do justice to the topic, and the participants may leave more confused than enlightened. Concentrate, rather, on getting them to understand the gospel message that the evangelist wished to communicate to us.

2.2. Only Mt's and Lk's Gospels have an I nfancy Narrative

DISCOVER: Invite the participants to look at the first chapter of each of the four gospels. Which gospels have an IN? [Let them look and answer].

CONCLUDE:

(a) We see that only Mfs and Lk's gospels have an IN.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12: SESSION 1

(b) TELL' The irstwitten gospeJ - that according to Mark-appeared
       
between AD 65-68. Mk has no IN. This reveals that about 35
       
years after the esurrection of Jesus Christians showed no
       
interest in the birth and eaiy ife of Jesus.

(c) TELL" MTS and Lk's Gospel were witten in the 80s. These
       
Gospels have an IN. In other words, it took about 50 years for
       
Christians to show interest in the bith and early life of Jesus.

(d) TELL' Jn's Gospel, witten in the 90s, does not have an IN. Look
      
at Jn 1:1-18. Jn begins his Gospel by going back even before
      
the birth of Jesus o his existence from aB eternity as the Word
      
of God: "In the beginning was the Word..."

2.3.    The Infancy Narrative is the Gospel in miniature

TELL: In witing their INs, Mt and Lk sounded the key truths of the Gospel that they developed more fully in the rest of their respective gospels. In other words, in the INs we already hear the Good News about who Jesus is and what he means for us.

Therefore: The INs may more appropriately be called the 'infancy Gospels." In this Programme we shall be alert to listen to the Good News that Mt and Lk proclaim in their respective Infancy Gospels.

"Whatever their origin or histoicity, why were these stoies included by Matthew and Luke in their gospels? How does each infancy narrative accord with the respective evangelist's theology? How do the infancy narratives convey the good news of salvation, so that they are truly and literally 'gospel'?" (Brown, 1978:5).

2.4.    Chart showing the structure of each Infancy Narrative

DISTRIBUTE a copy of the Chat showing the structure and contents of the two INs to each participant The Chart is found at the end of this Session's notes (Appendix II)

(1) DISCOVER: invite the participants to study the Chat and find
      
out the main differences in the two INs, Lead them to note the
      
following differences and biefly wite them on the blackboard.

(a)   Mt focuses on Joseph, and Lk in Mary.

(b)       Mt has stoies on the Magi, the slaughter of the innocent

children, the flight to and etun from Egypt Lk has none of these stoies.

(c)        Lk has stoies on Zechaiah, Elizabeth, John, shepherds,

Simeon, Anna, and Jesus in the temple. Mt has none of these stoies.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 1:13

For the teacher: Noe these differences as weB:

(a)           Mt has the home of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem (2:11). so that

he has to explain why when they retuned from Egypt they went to Nazareth. For Lk, however, they came from Nazareth (1:26-27; 2:39), and he has o explain how Jesus came o be born in Bethlehem.

(b)          The forthcoming birth of Jesus is announced in both INs but to

different people: to Joseph in Mt (1:18-25), and to Mary in Lk (1:26-38).

(c)           Mt's account of a flight to Egypt because of Herod's murderous

policy contradicts Lk's account of a peaceful retun to Nazareth through Jerusalem without any mention of Herod.

CONCLUDE: The overall striking fact is that 'Matthew and Luke tell two very different stories of Jesus' bith and infancy - stories that agree in very few details and almost contradict one another in other details* (Brown, 1978:4).

(2)   TELL:

(a) While there are many differences in the two INs, both agree
       
in teaching cetain basic truths about Jesus. We shall study
       
these basic truths in this Programme.

(b) The general structure of the INs:

* Chapter 1 in both INs: have stories concening the birth
    
of Jesus. This we shall study in the first two sessions of
    
this Programme

* Chapter 2 in both INs: have stoies concerning the
    
response of people to the bith of Jesus. This we shall
    
study in the last two sessions of this Programme.

 

= SESSION   BREAK =

 

 

III.      THE BIRTH OF JESUS IN MATTHEW 1

TELL: The first chapter of Mt's gospel can be divided into two segments: (1) The genealogy or family-tree of Jesus fyv.1-17), and

(2) The annunciation of the coming bith of Jesus to Joseph (w. 18-
25).

3.1. The Genealogy of Jesus (1:1-17)

In Greek, verse 1 has the words "biblos geneseos' which mean "the book of the genesis' or the book of the oigin" of Jesus Chist Another phrase that expresses the same idea is "the family tree of


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14: SESSION 1

Jesus Chist"

ASK the paticipants 9 they ind this a boing passage? Very likely they wSI say that it is boing. BUT m this genealogy Mt gives us impotant truths about Jesus. We shall try to discover these truths as we study the genealogy.

3.1.1. Jesus Is the Messiah orthe Christ

READ: "The book of the genealogy of Jesus Chist, the son of David, he son of Abraham' (1:1).

DISCOVER:

Which are the three titles given to Jesus in this verse?

Answer 'Chist," the son of David," and the son of Abraham."

The participants will understand the last two as titles of Jesus, but they will probably not understand how "Chist' can be a title. You will need to explain.

TELL "Christ" is the English translation of the Greek "Christos," which is the same as the Hebrew word "Messiah." Therefore, all these words (Messiah, Chistos, Chist) mean the same, and they mean

the anointed one of God."

DISCOVER: Of these three titles, the title 'Christ" appears most often in the entire passage, it appears three times. In which verses? Ldok at 1:1,16,17.

TELL: Truth #1: Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the anointed one of God. (Wite this truth and the other truths that follow on the black¬ board or present it on a poster that you have prepared before the session]:

3.1.2. The literary structure of the Genealogy

Mt divides the genealogy of Jesus into three paragraphs of fouteen generations each. Read 1:17.

For the eacher: This is a very artificial and contrived list of generations. In order o get the. number 14 or each group:

- Mt leaves out the names of four kings between Joram and Azariah.

- He also counts Jeconiah twice: made possible by the fact that the same
    
Gk name can translate the two similar Hebrew names Joiaqim and
    
Joiakin.

Why fourteen? Read Eraso: pp.24-25.

DISCOVER:

(a) Invite the participants to identify the verses that refer to each
       
paragraph:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 1:15

(1) From Abraham to David (1:2-6a).

(2) From David to the Babylonian exile (1:6b-11).

(3) From the Exile to Jesus (1:12-16).

(b) What event is mentioned at the beginning of each paragraph?
       
Look at w.2, 6b, 12.

At the beginning of.

(1) Paragraph 1 (12-6a): the call of Abraham;

(2) Paragraph 2 (1:6b-11): David who established the Kingdom
       
of Israel; and

(3) Paragraph 3 (1:12-16): the Exile.

These were three impotant stages in the history of Israel and salvation. Thus, Mt wants to teach the following truth: Truth #2: As the Messiah, Jesus is the fulfilment of the history of Israel.

3.1.3. The women in the Genealogy

DISCOVER: The five women mentioned in the genealogy: Tamar (1:3), Rahab (1:5), Ruth (1:5), the wife of Uiah (1:6b), Mary (1:16).

TELL: It is not normal to find the names of women in Jewish genealogies (see the genealogies in the book of Genesis). The woman had no legal ights; she was regarded not as a person but as a thing, owned by man. Then why did Mt include them in his genealogy?

(a) Tamar was a seductress (Gen 38); Rahab was a prostitute of
      
Jeicho (Jos 2:1-7); Ruth belonged to the people of Moab and
      
therefore a foreigner (Ruth 1:4); Bathsheba, the wife of Uiah,
      
was seduced by David (2 Sam 11).

(b) By including these names, Mt teaches us the essence of the
       
gospel in Jesus Christ: the coming of Jesus broke the barriers
       
that existed in society:

* The barrier between male and female: in Jesus'family-tree the
    
names of women are mentioned.

* The barier between Jew and Gentile: Rahab and Ruth were
    
both foreigners.

* The barier between saint and sinner Somehow God can use . for his purposes, and fit into his plan of salvation, those who
    
have sinned greatly. 1 came not to can the righteous, but
    
sinners" (Mt 9:13).

(c) Mary, the fifth woman, 1 ike the other four women, gives birth to a
        child in extraordinary or unusual circumstances. While the other


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16: SESSION 1

women played a ote in God's plan of salvation, Mary's was a key role: through her the Saviour was bom into the world.

Truth #3: As the Messiah, Jesus has come for all: not only for those within Judaism but also outside Judaism: Jews and Gentiles, men and women, saints and sinners.

3.2. The Annunciation to Joseph (1:18-25)

For the eacher The lack of time may prevent you rom exposing 3.2.1 below. H that is so in your case, skip directly to 3.2.2.

3.2.1.    To our present ways of thinking the relationships in this pas¬

sage are confusing. First, Joseph is said to be betrothed to Mary (1:18); then he is said to be planning to quietly divo.ce her (1:19); and finally she is called his wife (1:20).

But the above terms (bethrothed, divorce, wife) refer to normal Jewish marriage procedure, in which there were three stages:

(1) First there was the engagement. The engagement was
       
often made when the couple were only children. It was
       
usually made through the parents, or through a professional

matchmaker.                                                               '

(2) Second, there was the betrothal. The betrothal was what we
       
might call the ratification of the engagement At this point the
       
engagement, entered into by the parents or the match¬
       
maker, could be broken if the boy or girl was unwilling to go
       
through with t. But once the betrothal was entered into, it
       
was absolutely binding. It lasted for one year. Duing that
       
year the couple were known as man and wife, although they
       
did not have the rights of man and wife (living together). It
       
could not be terminated in any other way than by divorce. I n
       
the Jewish law we frequently find a curious phrase: a girl
       
whose fiance had died during the year of betrothal was called
       
'a virgin who is a widow.'

Joseph, and Mary were at this stage. They were betrothed, and if Joseph wished to end the betrothal, he could do so in . no other way than by divorce; and in that year of betrothal

Mary was legally as his wife.

(3) Third, there was the mariage proper, which took place at
       
the end of the year of betrothal.

3.2.2.    in Mt's gospel: the angelic annunciation is always to Joseph (see

Chat).-Why?


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 1:17

TELL: Matthew wrote his Gospel for Jewish Chistians. For the Jews, the husband/father was the head of the family. It was he who had legal ights and responsibilities; it was he who was the head of the family and represented it Hence the impotance given to Joseph in Mt's IN. In his IN, the angel appears not to Mary but to Joseph - three times. 1:18-25 is the irst lime Which are the other two times? (2:13 and 2:19-20).

3.2.3. Jesus is the fulfilment of drvln* promise

TELL: Study the prophet Isaiah's words in its oiginal context: Is 7:10-17. In order for his words to be a 'sign" to king Ahaz they should have refenedto some event which he could verify. Hence, the "young woman" (Heb: "atmah") was probably Ahaz' wife and the son was Hezekiah. The oracle was never fulfilled in OT times. Mt saw it finally fulfilled in the person of Jesus. In this and other passages Mt presents Jesus as the fulilment of OT prophecies.

DISCOVER: Invite the paticipants to find the five fulfilment texts in Mt's IN. They are: 1:22-23; 2:5-6; 2:15; 2:17-18; 2:23.
SHARE: What does Mt wish to teach us about Jesus through these fulfilment texts? [Let the participants share their views].

3.2.4. Jesus Is Saviour

TELL Read verse 21: "he will save his people from their sins" The name "Jesus" is the Gk form of "Joshua": in popular etymology, it means "saviour* or "God saves."

Truth #4: Jesus is saviour, for he will save his people from their sins.'

3.2.5. Jesus Is the Son of God (the divinity of Jesus)

TELL: The terms "messiah" and "saviour' are used in the Bible to refer to human beings. For example, every king was a messiah, God's anointed; and the Judges were saviours of their people. Is Jesus is a mere human being or is he someone more than that?

Truth #5: Jesus is not merely human but divine. He is the Son of God.

This insight into the person of Jesus came to believers only after his resurrection (cf.Rom 1:4). Gradually Christians realized that Jesus was God's Son not only throughout his ministry since the time of his baptism (cf.Mk 1:11) but also at the time of his conception and birth. Mt presents the truth about the divinity of Jesus by referring to the virginal conception of Jesus.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18: SESSION 1

(1) DISCOVER: the literary change in Mt 1:16.Go back to the
       
genealogy. From Mt 1.2-15 the formula is "X (was) the father of
       
Y"; but in Mt 1:16 the texts reads: 'Jacob the father of Joseph
        the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was bom, who is called
       
Chist" (Mt 1:16).

Why this change? Mt is careful to state that Jesus was the son of Mary and not of Joseph. Then who was the tather* of Jesus? Mt gives us the answer in the angelic annunciation to Joseph.

(2) DISCOVER: The three references to the virginal conception of
      
Jesus in 1:18-25.

* "When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before
    
they came together she was found to be with ch/7d of the Holy
    
Spirit' (1:18).

* '...forthatwhichtsconcervedinher/so/f7eHo//Sp//7r(1:20). * "H e took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son"
    
(1:24b-25).

3.2.6. The perpetual virginity of Mary

For the teacher Omit this question. Appendix I discusses it. If anyone raises the question, 'Did Mary have other children besides Jesus?' during the session, don t interrupt the session to answer the questioner. Invite th e person to see you after the session. Therefore study Appendix I and be prepared to answer.

 

IV. CONCLUSION

4.1. Get the participants to recapitulate the main points of the session.

4.2. Why are we studying the INs?

(a) To hear the Good News about Jesus: who he is and what he
       
means for us. This is God's Christmas gift to us.

(b) To respond to the Good News about Jesus: who he is and what
       
he means for us. This is our Chistmas "gift' to God.

4.3 What have we leaned about Jesus in Mt ch. 1 ?

(1) Jesus is the Messiah, the Chist

(2) Jesus is the fulfilment of divine promise.

(3) Jesus is Saviour.

(4),. Jesus is the Son of God (the divinity of Jesus).

4.4 PERSONAL STUDY OF THE PARTICiRANTS: Encourage the
         
paticipants to read Lk 1 for the next session. Let them keep the Chat
         
on the INs before them as they read the chapter.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 1 .19

4.5 Concluding prayer Either the teacher or any one of the paticipants
         
will formulate a prayer expressing what has been discovered in the
         
session

Concluding song: Sing a song that appropiately expresses the truths discovered in the session. The following songs are suggested: "Em-. manuel,' "His Name is higher" (found in "Celebration" Hymnal),

"Jesus, Name above all names."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

V


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20: SESSION 1

APPENDIXV. THE PERPETUAL VIRGINITY OF MARY

1.      The poblem

(a) The "perpetual virginity of Mary* means that Mary was a virgin
      
not onry befoe the birth of Jesus but also after the birth of Jesus.
      
This is tieCathoic teaching.

(b) Protestants hold that Mary was a virgin before the bith of Jesus
      
but not after his both. They hold that after the bith of Jesus, Mary
      
had other children by Joseph.

Did Joseph "know" Mary, that is, have children by Mary, after the bith of Jesus, as the Protestants hold? Protestants quote Mt 1:25, Lk 2:7 and Mk 6:3 to argue against the perpetual virginity of Mary.

2.       Text Mt 1:25

"(Joseph took Mary as his wife) but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus" (RSV.1:25).

2.1.    Interpretation of the text

(a) The verse simply means that until Jesus' bith there was no
      
intercourse between Mary and Joseph. The sentence, in itself,
      
does not say anything about the future, but only about the past

(b) The use of the word "untl" (In Gfc "heos"). In Mt's text the "heos
      
hou' renders the Aramaic "ad di* (In Hebrew: 'ad Id"). This
      
expression affirms that an action: did not take place before a
       cetain point n the past but does not state anything about that
      
action after that point in the future. In other words, "till, until' give
       us an arival point, but not a depature point

St.Jerome writes: These expressions (till, until") deny some¬ thing in the past, without telBng anything about the future." He defended this Gospel text against those who, like Helvidius, exploited it to deny Mary's perpetual virginity. Then, St Jerome gives examples where "heos hou" (= until) does not state any¬ thing about the future. He thus demands that nobody should conclude from this Matthew text that after Jesus' bith, there were physical relations between Joseph and Mary.

2.2.   Other examples of "until" in the Bible which illustrate the same poinL

(a) Gen 8:5.7: ■

* The waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the
   
tenth month... the tops of the mountains were seen' (8:5).


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 1 :21

* "(The raven) went to and fro until the waters were died up
   
from the eath" (8:7).

Does this mean that the waters began to ise again after the tenth month? or that the raven came back to the ark after the flood had ended? Not at all!

(b)       2 Samuel 6:23 - "And until the day of her death, Michat, the

daughter of Saul, had no children." It is obvious that she had no children after her death!

(c)        Ps.110:1    - "Yahweh said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand till I

make your enemies your footstool.' Does this mean that the Lord Jesus Christ will not sit at the ight hand of the Father any more after the defeat of His enemies?

(d>     Ps 72:7 - "In his days (those of the ideal messianic king) may

ighteousness flouish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more." Of course, the expression does not at all imply that the messianic king will not be any more a king of ighteousness and peace after the moon vanishes!

(e)       Jer 52:11    - "(The king of Babylon) put out the eyes of Zedekiah

... and put him in pison till the day of his death." Does this mean

that after he (Zedekiah) had died the king released him from

prison?

(f)          Mt 28:20 - "(Jesus said to his disciples): And lo, I am with you

always until the close of the age." Jesus, the Lord, will be with us even after the end of this world!

(g)       Jn 9:18 - The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and

had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight* The Jews did not believe after having called the man's parents and listened to them. That is why they questioned him again (9:24).

1.3.      Conclusion

The above examples clearly reveal that with the words till, until* an arrival line is drawn, not a depature point. They tetl nothing about what happened next Till, until" do not asset anything about what follows the period of time they end or circumscibe, enclose or delimit

Therefore, Mt wants to afirm that Jesus' conception was not the result of any sexual intercourse between Joseph and Mary. Mary was a virgii before Jesus' conception. The words "Joseph did not know


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22: SESSION 1

Mary until she gave bith to her son" do not permit us to asset that he did "know" her after the bith of Jesus. The Protestant position forces the text to say something that of itself it does not say.

3.      Text: Lk2:7

'And she gave bith to her irst-bom son... and laid him in a manger

*

 

3.1.    Interpretation of the text

"First-bom* means simply the first to be bom, that is the one before whom nobody else had been bom. And even if no other children were born, the first-bom remains still a first-bom. Thus, an only child (girl or boy) is a f irst-borri.

Being a first-bon, in the Semitic society and law, conferred special ights, privileges and obligations. It did not necessaily imply sub¬ sequent births. The firstborn" means simply the one bom at the first childbirth, whether others came later or not.

3.2.    Some texts about first-bom" = the first child (might be the only one).

(a) Exodus 13:1-2: "Yahweh spoke to Moses and said: 'Consecrate
       
all the first-bom to Me, the irst issue of ev^ry womb, among the
       
sons of Israel... He is mine!" Of course, Moses did not have to
        wait for the 'second-bom* to realize that the first child was the
       
"irst*... and to consecrate him to the Lord!

(b) In 1922, in Egypt an old sculpture was discovered. It was about
       
a young woman, Arsinoe, who died when she was in her labour
       
pains, while she was giving bith to "her first-bom" son. Obvi¬
       
ously, he was also the last-bom.

(c) Exodus 13:15: the law of redeeming all the "irstbon" of Jewish
       
sons. This law was to be fulfilled when obviously it could not be
       
known whether other children might come later.

3.3.   Conclusion

Jesus is given this title of "irst-bom" to indicate, not only that Mary gave birth to no child before him, but also because it is a title of honour as explained above. Futher, i is woth while noticing that, in the divine nature, Chist is the irst- bom* of the Father, and yet He is the only" Son (Greek: monogenes): 'Again, when (the Father) bings the irst-bon into the world. He says: 'Let all the angels of God worship Him!" (Heb 1:6).


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 1 :23

4.      Text Mk 6:3

4:1.   The evidence of Scripture:

* The term "brother", as it is found in the OT and NT, is very
    
ambiguous: it can refer to different kinds of relationship. It is
    
used to refer to blood-brothers (Gen 4:2; 2526). BUT it is also
    
used to refer to. cousins or relatives (Judg 9:1.-5; 2 Sam. 13:1 -14;

1 Kgs 1:9-10;       6:17-18), to brothers-in-the-race-of-lsrael               (Acts

2:29;    13:36); to brothers-in-the-faith             (Mt      18:15-35; Acts 9:17;

21:20; 22:13; 1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1), to friends (2 Sam 1:26), or to any man (Mt 5:24; 7:3-5).

* The loose and ambiguous use of the term "brother" is in keeping
    
with Eastern way of speaking. Consider, for example, that the
    
Maharastian or Gujarati uses the word "brothers" to refer also to
    
cousins.

* In Mk 6:3 Jesus is recognized as the "brother" of 'James and
    
Joses and Judas and Simon." Later in Mk 15:40 at Golgotha was
     "Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses." Since this
    
Mary was not the mother of Jesus, then we can conclude that
    
"James and Joses" in 6:3 were not blood-brothers but the relatives
    
of Jesus.

4.2.   The evidence of Scipture:

That Mary had other children is never explicitly mentioned in the. NT or in any other source of early tradition.

4.3.   The teaching of the Church:

* Since the use of the term "brother" is ambiguous, we must have
    
recourse to the way the Church has understood the term since
    
NT times. Church tradition has always and consistently held that
    
Mary did not have other children after Jesus; this is the teaching
    
of the dogma of the perpetual virginity of Mary. To hold that Mary
    
had other children goes beyond the NT evidence; to hold it as
    
absolutely certain when the NT is ambiguous reveals one's
    
prejudice against Mary.

* Hence in this text and elsewhere, the word "brother" must be
    
understood as kinsmen.

* 'However one interprets this passage about the 'brothers' of
     Jesus, it is to be noted that the doctine of Mary's perpetual
    
virginity is not based on Marcan texts" (NJBC)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24: SESSION 1

APPENDIX II: CHART SHOWING THE STRUCTURE OF MATTHEW'S AND LUKE'S INFANCY NARRATIVES

 

MATTHEW'S INFANCY NARRATIVE

The genealogy of Jesus (1:1-17)

First annunciation to Joseph: 'Mary will bear a son" (1:18-25) The worship of the Magi (2:1-12)

Second annunciation to Joseph: "Flee to Egypt" (2:13-15) The slaughter of the innocent children (2:16-18)
Third annunciation to Joseph: "Return to Israel" (2:19-23)

 

LUKE'S INFANCY NARRATIVE

Prologue (1:1-4)


Annunciation to Zechaiah:
     
re. bith of John (1:5-23)
Elizabeth's pregnancy and
praise of God (1:24-25)

 

 

Bith of John, circumcision,
      naming (1:57-66)

Song of Zechaiah (1:67-79)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growth statement which marks
      the transition to John's

ministry (1:80).


Annunciation to Mary:
     
re. birth of Jesus (1:26-38)
Elizabeth's praise of Mary's

pregnancy (1.39-45)

Mary's song of praise (1:46-55) Conclusion (1:56)

Birth of Jesus, circumcision,
      naming, presentation (2:1-39)

•birth of Jesus (2:1-7)

* annunciation & and song of the
   angels (2:8-14)

* worship of the shepherds
  
(2:15-20)

* circumcision (2:21)
* presentation (2:22-24)
* song & prophecy of Simeon

(2:25-35)

* witness of Anna (2:36-38) * conclusion (2:39)

Growth statement which marks
     
the transition to Jesus'

ministry (2:40,52).

Jesus lost and found (2:41-51)
Concluding growth statement (2:52)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 2:25

 

SESSION 2: THE BIRTH OF JESUS IN LUKE 1

 

-  OBJECTIVE: To enable the participants to discover the key truths concerning God and Jesus contained in chapter 1 of Lk's Infancy Narrative.

STRUCTURE OF THE SESSION:

1.     Introduction   .                                                       10 minutes

2.    The Bith of John .                                                 30 minutes

Break                                                                     10 minutes

    3.      The Announcement of the

birth of Jesus                                                         30 minutes   '

4.     Conclusion                                                            10 minutes

 

I.       INTRODUCTION

1.1. WELCOME the participants to the session.

1.2. OPENING PRAYER: In this prayer thank God for the truths about
        
Jesus Christ discovered in last week's study of Mt 1 and invite the
        
Holy Spirit to enable the paticipants to be open to the truths that will
         be discovered in this session.

LIGHT two candles on the Advent Wreath.

1.3. RECALL Get the paticipants to recall the main points covered in the
         
study of MM.

1.4. Introduce them to this session by inviting them to look at the structure
        
of Lk's Gospel in the Chat given to them in the first session.
        
DISCOVER: Are there any peculiaities in Lk's gospel?
        
e.g. two annunciations, two biths, the number of songs.

1.5. In this session we shall study only chapter 1 of Lk's Gospel.

For the teacher: As each truth is discovered, wite it prominently on the blackboard, or display it on a poster that you have prepared before the session.

 

II. THE BIRTH OF JOHN

In this first pat of the session we shall study two passages in ch.1 that refer to John: namely, 1:5-25 and 1:57-80.

2.1. The annunciation to Zechaiah (1:5-25)

This passage may be divided into three paragraphs: (1) the barren


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26 : SESSION 2

condition of EEzabeth (w.5-7), (2) the bith narrative concening John (w. 8-23); and (3) God's word is fulfilled (w.24-25).

2.1.1. The barren condition of Elizabeth (1:5-7)

TELL: To be barren rendered a woman both socially and religiously despised. The Jewish Rabbis said that seven people were excommu¬ nicated from God and the list began: The Jew who has no wife, or' a Jew who has a wife and who has no child" In Judaism, child¬ lessness was a valid ground for divorce.

2.1.2. The birth narrative concening John (1:8-23)

For the teacher In this passage the 'birth oracle' is integrated with the elements of a "call narrative.' In a call narrative the elements ae: (1) encounter

(2) commission (3) objection (4) reassurance (5) sign. In a birth narrative the element of the announcement of the bith and mission of the child replaces the element of commissioning.

TELL: There are five elements in a birth narrative- They are:

(1) encounter; (2) announcement; (3) objection; (4) reassurance; (5) sign. [Write these words on the blackboard).

DISCOVER: Find out the verses that refer to the five elements in this bith nanatfve concening John: (1) encounter (w.11-12); (2) an¬ nouncement (w. 13-17); (3) objection (v. 18); (4) reassurance (v. 19);

(5) sign (v.20).

Truth #1: The context for God's communication: prayer (1:10).

2.1.3. God's word is fulfilled (1:24-25)

As the Lord had promised, Elizabeth conceived. In v.25 she pro¬ claimed the great truth of God's concen for the socially and religious¬ ly despised.

Truth #2: God's concen for the socially depressed. Truth #3: God's mercy (compassion, love).

2.2. The person and mission of John (1:13-17, 57-79)

The person and mission of John are described in two passages: 1:13-17 and 1:57-79.

2.2.1. TELL: The name "John" is a shoter form of "Jehohanan," which
            
means "Yahweh is gracious" or *Yahweh has shown favour." The
            
significance of this name reappears in 1:57-67. On the eighth
            
day the mae chid was circumcised and received his name. Gits
            
could be named any time within thirty days of their birth.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 2: 27

2.2.2. DISCOVER:

(1) How is the person of John descibed in 1:15?

* That John will abstain from intoxicating beverages seems
    
to be an allusion to Num 6:3 and to the figures of Samuel
    
and Samson, who were set apat from bith for the Lord
    
as Nazirites.

* He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's
    
womb."

(2) How is his mission described in 1:16-17?

* John is to be the precursor of the Messiah.

* All devout Jews hoped and longed for the day when the
    
Messiah, God's anointed king, would come. Most of them
    
believed that, before he came, a forerunner would an¬
    
nounce his coming and prepare his way. The popular
    
belief was that Elijah would retun to do so (cf. RSV: Mai
    
4:5-6; NAB: Mai 3:23-24).

* Also study here the song of Zechariah     (1:76-79):

Zechariah saw in his son the one who would prepare the way for the coming of the Lord.

* Duing his ministry, Jesus declared that Elijah had
    
retuned in the person of John (Mt 11:14; 17:10-13).

Truth #4: John was the precursor of Jesus: he prepared people to receive Jesus.

2.3.  The significance of the Temple

2.3.1. Lk's IN begins in the Temple

The annunciation to Zechariah took place in the temple of Jerusalem. When his turn to minister in the temple came, Zechariah began the service but did not complete it By depicting Zechariah as dumb, Luke in effect said that Zechaiah was unable to complete the liturgy he began, for he could not bless the people, as he was expected to do after the sacrifice. And the people were astonished because of this. (Lk 1:21-22).

2.3.2. Lk's IN ends in the Temple (2:41-51)

The people were astonished again when they hear the words of Jesus in the Temple (Lk 2:47). In his life, Jesus would complete the liturgy (worship) of God which Zechariah, the piest of the Old Testament, was unable to do.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

28: SESSION 2

2.4.    The growth of John (1:80)

Lk's IN concening John ends with the statement on John's growth and We in the wildeness "till the day of his manifestation to Israel." When that day dawned, John would carry out his mission: to prepare the way for Jesus.

2.5.   Conclusion:

Collect together the great Lukan truths that have been discovered so far in the session:

Truth #1:     The context for God's communication: prayer (1:10).

We oten wish that a message from God would come to us. In Bernard Shaw's play, "Saint Joan,' Joan hears voices from God. The Dauphin is annoyed. "Oh.yourvoices.yourvoices.'hesaid. "Why dont the voices come to me? I am king not you." "They do come o you." said Joan, 'but you do not hear thBm. You have not sat in the ield in the evening listening for them. When the angel us ings you cross yourself and have done with it: but if you prayed from your heart, and listened to the thrilling of the bells in the air after they stop ringing, you would hear the voices as well as I do.* Joan of Arc gave herself the chance to hear God's voice.'Zechariah was in the temple waiting on God. God's voice comes to those who listen for it (Barclay, The Gospel of Luke: 11).

Truth #2:     God's concen for the socially depressed:
                      
the barren woman (1:7,25,58).

Truth #3:     God's mercy (compassion, love): 1:50,54,58,72,78. Truth #4:     John was the precursor of Jesus: he prepared
                       
people to receive Jesus.

 

=SESSION   BREAK=

 

 

III. THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE BIRTH OF JESUS

3.1. The Annunciation to Mary (1:26-38)

DISCOVER: This is another bith narrative as 1:8-23 (see 2.1.2. above). Identify the verses that refer lo the five elements of a bith narrative in this passage.

(1) Encounter (w.26-29); (2) Announcement (w.30-33);

(3) Objection (v.34); (4) Reassurance (v.35); (5) Sign (vv.36- 37).

3.2. The person and mission of Jesus


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 2 :29

DISCOVER; Who is Jesus and why was he bom?

(1) Look at v.31. The son of Mary is to be called "Jesus." What
       
does the name mean? Recall the meaning given in Mt 1:21.

(2) Look atw.32-33. What are the two ways in which Jesus is spoken
        of in these verses? (The Son of the Most High, and a king).

DISCOVER: The virginal conception of Jesus.

(1) Recall the four verses in Mt 1 which refer to the virginal concep¬
        tion of Jesus (Mt 1:16,18,20,24b-25).

(2) In the annunciation to Mary, Lk twice refers to the virginal
       
conception of Jesus. Find the two references.

* "... a virgin bethrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of
    
the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary" (v.27). * To Mary's question "How can this be, since I have no hus¬
    
band?" the angel replied: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
    
and the power of the Most High willovershadowyou; therefore
    
the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God" (v. 35).

By the above words and phrases Lk wished to communicate that the conception of Jesus occurred without the intervention of a human father. Thus:

Tmth #5: Jesus is more than a man, he is the Son of God.

3.3.   Mary

DISCOVER: Which are the two passages that speak of Mary in this chapter? (The Annunciation, w.26-38 and the Visitation, w.39- 56).

TELL We are now going to learn what Luke has to teach us about Mary in these two passages.

(1)         Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant (1:35)

(a) Read Ex 40:34-38. The "cloud" was the symbol of God's
       
abiding presence among his people as they journeyed
       
through the wildeness. The cloud abode upon (the tent)
       
and the glory of the Lord illed the tabenacle."

With this passage at the back of his mind, Luke wrote about the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary. He presents Mary as the Ark of the new covenant "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will over¬ shadow you" (Lk 1:35). Luke wishesto tell us that (a) in Jesus God was present in the womb of Mary, and (b) God's presence in Jesus was by the power of the Holy Spiit.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30: SESSION 2

(b) The idea of Mary as the Ark of the new covenant is futher
       
conveyed by Luke when he has Elizabeth exclaim to Mary:
       
"Behold, when the voice of your greeting came my ears, the
       
babe in my womb leaped for joy* (1:44). These words call to
       
mind David who danced with joy in the presence of the Lord,
       
as the Ark was being brought from Baale-judah to Jerusalem
       
(2 Sam 6:5,14).

(2)        Mary's obedient failh (1:38)

To the win of God Mary replied: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." Mary did not fully understand what God was doing in her life. There were a number of questions in her mind tor which no immediate answers were given. Mary, however, trusted God and believed that God was in full control of her life; she obediently surrendered to him in the darkness of her faith.

The greatness of Mary's faith was later praised by Elizabeth: "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb ... blessed is she who believed ..."

(3)        Mary's outgoing love: her visit to Elizabeth (1:39-45)

(a) Mary heard: She learned from the angel that her elderly
       
cousin Elizabeth was in the sixth month of her pregnancy
       
(w.36- 37).

(b) Mary went: She arose and went with haste 1o Elizabeth's
       
house in a city of Judah (Arn-Karim, about 70 miles away)
       
(w.39-40).

(c) Mary served: She attended to Elizabeth until her child was
       
born (v.56).

(4)       Mary's song of praise: the Magnificat (1:46-55)

(a) TELL: Mary's song reveals her relationship to God. It is
       
saturated with the best truths in the OT; it is specially related
       
to Hannah's song of praise. See 1 Sam 2:1-10.

(b) DISCOVER: Mary praises God for seven things in this song.
       
Find them.

(c) It has been said that this song is the most revolutionary
       
document in the world. It speaks of 1hree revolutions of God.

(1)     He scatters the proud in the imagination of their

heats (1:51): this is a spiritual revolution.

(2)     He casts down the mighty... he exalts the humble: th'ts

is a social revolution.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 2:31

(3)           He fills those who are hungry... he sends away empty

those who are rich: this is an economic revolution.

(5) Mary was fruitful through the Holy Spirit (1:35)

DISCOVER: The Holy Spirit is mentioned four times in this chapter. Find the verses in which the Holy Spirit is mentioned. In these verses to whom is the Holy Spirit related? (v. 15, John; v.35, Mary; v.41, Elizabeth; v.67, Zechariah)..

TELL: Here we are specially interested in the relation of the Holy Spirit to Mary in v.35. Mary conceived Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. The first and last times we read about Mary in the NT - at the Annunciation and at Pentecost - we see her in relation to the Holy Spirit.

3.4. For the teacher: Depending on the intellectual level of the participants and the
       time available you may wish to share the following.

The figure of Gabriel links the annunciation to Zechariah and to Mary by inviting reflection on the significance of Jesus' birth as fulilment of Dan 9:24-27: the 70 weeks (490) of years is being fulfilled. Elizabeth's pregnancy of 160 days, is followed by Mary's pregnancy of 270 days, and after 40 days by Jesus' entry into the Temple: the reign of ighteousness is beginning.

 

IV. CONCLUSION

4.1. Get the paticipants to recapitulate the main truths of the session.
        
Truth #1:   The context for God's communication: prayer (1:10).
         Truth #2: God's concern for the socially depressed: as illustrated in

the condition of Elizabeth (1:7,25,58); and as expressed in the Magnificat of Mary (1:48-53):"

Truth #3:   God's mercy (compassion, love): 1:50,54,58,72,78.

Truth #4: John was Ihe precursor of Jesus: Even as John prepared
                   
people to receive Jesus into their lives, so must every
                   
Christian. Every Christian has, through his/her words and
                   
deeds, to make the way for the Lord in the lives of people.
                   
Thus every Chistian through personal witness evan¬
                   
gelises, that is, brings people to Jesus.

Truth #5:   Truths about Jesus: He is king, and he is the Son of God. Truth #6:   Truths about Mary:

(a) Mary is the Ark of the new covenant.

(b) Mary's obedient faith

(c) Mary's outgoing love

(d) Mary's song of praise

(e) Mary's relationship to the Holy Spirit


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

32: SESSION 2

Truth #7:   The agent of God's communication: the Holy Spiit to
                  
Zechariah, to Mary.to Elizabeth (1:15,35,41,67).

Truth #8:   The Good News of Jesus bings joy (1:14,44,47,58).

4.2. PERSONAL STUDY OF THE PARTICIPANTS: Encourage the par¬
        
ticipants to read Mt 2 for the next session. Let them keep the Chat
        
on the INs before them as they read the chapter.

4.3. Concluding prayer This prayer may be done either by the teacher or
         
by one of the participants appointed by the teacher before the
         
session.

Concluding song: Sing a song that appropriately expresses the truths discovered in the session. The following songs are suggested: all found in the "Celebration" Hymnal: "All to Jesus I surrender," "Send foth your Spirit," "Holy virgin."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TDWutcwtuoi^lwiona ?t>mm


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 3:33

 

SESSION 3:

RESPONSE TO THE BIRTH OF JESUS IN MATTHEW 2

 

OBJECTIVE: To lead the paticipants to respond to the bith of. Jesus in the light of chapter 2 of Mt's Infancy Narrative.

 

STRUCTURE OF THE SESSION:

1. Introduction                                                                  10 minutes

2. Acceptance and Rejection of Jesus                               30 minutes

Break                                                                            10 minutes

3. Futher Insights into Jesus                                             20 minutes

4/ Our response to the bith of Jesus                                  20 minutes

 

I. INTRODUCTION

1.1. WELCOME the paticipants to the session.

1.2. OPENING PRAYER: in this prayer the teacher will:

(a) irst thank God for the truths about Jesus discovered in the study
       
of chapter 1 of Matthew's IN, and

(b) second, invite the Holy Spirit to enable the paticipants to per¬
       
sonally respond to Jesus in the light of what will be studied in this
       
third session.

LIGHT three candles on the Advent Wreath.

1.3. REVIEW with the paticipants the insights into Jesus gained in
        
studying the first chapter of Mt's IN. Jesus is God's gift to us at
        
Christmas.

For the teacher: Before the session begins, you may find it helpful to display these truths on posters placed prominently in the room. This will help the paticipants and make your review easier.

1.4. TELL: In his public ministry, Jesus' proclamation of the Good News
        
was met by a twofold response from people: some believed and
        
others did not This same twofold response is found in the second
        
chapter of Mt and Lk's INs. In the third and fourth sessions of this
        
Programme we shall study the response to the Jesus' birth in the
        
second chapter of Mt's and Lk's INs.

(a) In this third session we will study the second chapter of Mt's IN.
       
In this chapter we will study the response that people made to
       
he announcement of the bith of Jesus.

(b) We study their response in order to lean to make our personal


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

34: SESSION 3

response to the birth of Jesus. This will be our gift to God at Christmas.

 

II.  ACCEPTANCE AND REJECTION OF JESUS

2.1.    A twofold response .

DISCOVER: Invite the paticipants to look at Ihe Chat given to them and to note the elements in the structure of Mt ch.2.

There are two important responses to Jesus' birth in this chapter one of acceptance, Ihe other of rejection. Which story tells us of people accepting Jesus, and which story tells of people rejecting Jesus? (Acceptance = the story of the Magi; rejection = the story of Herod). These stories are an anticipation of the twofold response with which people greeted Jesus' proclamation of the Good News of salvation later on during his ministry.

For the teacher: Avoid all talk about midrashic elements in this passage: e.g. the star, and the slaughter of the children.

2.2.    Acceptance: The Magi and the Star (2:1-23)

The Good News of Jesus'birth draws believers and those believers

- the magi - are Gentiles.

(a) TELL: The "magi" were a class of wise men, associated with
       
interpretation of dreams, astrology, and magic. Note the further
       
details concerning them that developed in later Christian tradi¬
       
tion:

* First, they became "kings" under the influence of Ps 72:10; Is
    
49:7; 60:10.

* Then they became three in number. This was deduced from
    
the three gifts they offered.

* Finally, they were given names: Caspar, Balthasar, and Mel-
    
chior in the Westen Church, and Caspar was considerd to be
    
a negro.

(b) TELL: It was through nature that God revealed himself to Ihe
       
Gentiles (see Rom 1:19-20; 2:14-15). So Mt shows the magi
       
receiving a revelation through astrology: a new star in the heaven
       
meant that a new king was bom on eath. They heard the Good
       
News-by means of a star.

But the ultimate secret of his whereabouts is locked in the special revelation of God to Israel, in the sciptures (2:2-6). The Gentiles


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 3 :35

come to worship, but they must lean from the Jews the story of salvation. The Gentiles, with the help of the Jewish Scriptures, find and worship Jesus (2:9-12).

They saw the child with Mary his mother." The magi offer a model of sound mariology: they worshiped Christ in a Maian context.

(c)   TELL: Note the five key steps in the magi's discovery and

response to Jesus:

(1)    They SAW a star. Like the Magi, we often see or experience

a new star: namely, people or events through which God wishes to reveal something new to us. Thmugh the ap¬ pearance of these "stars" in our lives, God invites us to a new life.

(2)         They FOLLOWED the star. The magi were curious and

wished to know more about the new king who was born. So they made the necessary changes in their life-schedule and followed the star. Today we see "stars," but sadly are not curious to know more about the new life that God is inviting us to. So we do not follow the star. But if we do, then we shall go on to make wonderful discoveries that will change our lives.

(3)    They PERSEVERED in their search until they found the

child. The star led the magi to Jerusalem. There they did not know what to do next. Probably they lost sight of the star. But they did not give up, turn around, and return home. They persevered in their search until they finally found Ihe child in Bethlehem.When we begin to seek the new life that God is calling us to, we shall meet with difficulties and obstacles that will make uslo temporarily lose sight of thestar, question Ihe reality of the star, and return to our former way of life. Like the magi, we are to persevere in our seeking. For those who seek, will find.

(4)    They WORSHIPPED him by offering him the most precious

gifts they had. The gifts were a sign of the magi's self-gift and surrender to Jesus. True worship of Jesus is shown when we surrender and commit ourselves to Jesus. Though the self-commitment is something internal, there will always be something extenal, our "gift, "through which we manifest what is going on within us.

(5)        They RETURNED home by another way. It would appear

that the magi avoided passing through Jerusalem, the place


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

36: SESSION 3

where they encountered rejection of and indiference to Jesus. The one who finds and surrenders his life to Jesus always 'returns home" a different person, a transformed person. Such a person, having found new life, wil now walk along a new path, the path of the Holy Spirit

2.3.   Rejection: The secular and religious leaders

(a)    Mt highlights the paradox: those who had the Scriptures and

could read plainly what the prophets had said were not willing to worship the newborn king. On the contrary, the the chief priests and the scribes seemed indiferent to God's promise of the Messiah, and the king conspired against the Messiah by decree¬ ing his death. But God saved Jesus and ultimately brought him back from another land (2:13'-15,19-23).

(b)   DISCUSS: Why did king Herod and the religious leaders behave

in this manner? Why did king Herod wish to destroy Jesus? Why were the religious leaders indifferent to the news that the magi brought? (Let the paticipants share].

* Herod: If what the magi were saying was true, then the bith
   
of a new king was a threat to his own position and power. * The religious leaders: They thought they knew all about God,
   
his will, his manner of acting. If God was to reveal the bith of
   
the Messiah, he would speak to them as the religious leaders
   
of the Jews and not lo Gentile magi. They had the sciptures
   
to guide them, but they were indifferent to that guidance.

(c)         This story of rejection is an anticipation of the passion-resur¬

rection narrative. Note that the same cast of characters was present at the trial and condemnation of Jesus: the secular ruler (Pontius Pilate), the chief priests and the scibes (the Sanhedrin) were all opposed to Jesus, who had only God on his side. But God made Jesus victoious by binging him back from the dead.

 

= SESSION BREAK*

 

 

III. FURTHER INSIGHTS INTO THE PERSON OF JESUS

3.1. Jesus is the new Moses

In the reaction of Herod the king to the birth of Jesus, Mt presents Jesus as the new Moses in ch.2. He does this by reflecting on the


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 3 : 37

OT, especially on the book of Exodus In keeping with this insight, Mt will continue to present Jesus as the new Moses throughout his gospel: Jesus is the teacher of the new law in five discourses (chs. 5-7; 10; 13; 18; 24-25).

The compaison of Jesus with Moses is seen in the story of the massacre of the innocents (2:16-18).

(a) Read Ex 1:15-22. Herod was the new Pharoah who sought to
      
destroy the chosen child.

(b) Read Ex 2:1 -10. The king's attempt failed. The new Moses was
        also saved by God's intervention.

3.2.        Jesus Is the new Israel

TELL: In his life Jesus personifies the experiences of the people of Israel. Jesus represents the new Israel. In the person of Jesus the history and destiny of Israel is summarized, concentrated, and ful¬ filled. Mt teaches this not only when writing about the public ministry of Jesus but also in his Infancy Narrative. This he does through two stories in chapter 2.

(1) The second annunciation to Joseph (2:13-15)

Just as the people of the old Israel had to go to Egypt, so also Jesus, the representative of the new Israel, had to go to Egypt. Mt teaches this by comparing Joseph with his namesake in the Old Testament.

* The OT Joseph was a dreamer "par excellence." The NT
    
Joseph also received revelation in dreams (1:20; 2:13,19,22). * Like the OT Joseph (Gen 37), the NT Joseph too, contrary to
    
his plans, was compelled to go to Egypt (2:14).

* Like the family of the OT Joseph, the family of the NT Joseph
     was in exile.

(2) The third annunciation to Joseph (2:19-23)

Just as God brought the people of the old Israel out of Egypt and led them to Canaan, so also God brought Jesus, the repre¬ sentative of the new Israel, out of Egypt and back to Palestine. * 'Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of

Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead." (Read Ex 4:19).

* The words, "Out of Egypt have I called my son" (2:15),
    
probably refers to Ex 4:22-23: "Thus says the Lord, Israel is
    
my first- bom son ... Let my son go that he may serve me ..."


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

38: SESSION 3

* 2:19-22 explains why Joseph settled his famity in Galilee
    
rather than in Judea For Mt, unlike Lk, it would appear that
    
Joseph and Mary were originally from Bethlehem in Judea
    
(2:11), and thai is where Joseph planned to stay after their
    
retun from Egypt But he had to change his plans because
    
Archeiaus was the ruler of Judea: Archelaus, a son of Herod,
    
surpassed his father in cruelty. So Joseph moved his family to
    
Nazareth. There is, however, no known OT text that cone-
    
sponds to the quotation in 2:23. [For an explanation of this
    
point, see NJBC:15:636}

 

IV. OUR RESPONSE TO THE BIRTH OF JESUS

4.1. REVIEW with the help of the paticipants the twofold response to Ihe
         
Good News of the birth of Jesus in Mt 2.

4.2. For the teacher: Time permitting, you may mention .this point in your presenta¬
       
tion: Though John does not have an IN in his Gospel, in the Prologue to his
        Gospef (Jn 1:1 -18), he too presents the same message concening the person
        of Jesus and the response to his bith.

(a) Jesus is God: he is the eternal Word, ife, light (1:1-5).

(b) Jesus is God-with-us: he became flesh (1:14); he reveals the Father to
       
us (1:18).

(c) His birth provokes a twofold response: of rejection and acceptance
       
(Uii-12).

4.3. SHARE: The magi accepted Jesus into their lives. Consider their
         
ivefold response of the magi (2.2.c). What do these ive steps teach
         
us about our own response to Jesus? [The ive steps have already
         
been written on the blackboard or displayed on a poster. Invite the
         
participants to share their views on the five steps].

4.4. SHARE: In order to manifest your positive response to Jesus this
         
Christmas, like the magi, what can you do in your paish:

(1) As an individual? (2) As a group?

4.5. SHARE: Consider the negative response of Herod and that of the
        
religious jeaders to the bith of Jesus. What are the ways in which we
         can celebrate Chistmas and still reject Jesus from our lives? [Let the
        
paticipants share]:

4.6. PERSONAL STUDY. OF THE PARTICIPANTS: Encourage the par¬
        
ticipants to read Lk 2 for the next session. Let them keep the Chat
        
on the INs before them as they read the chapter.

4.7. Concluding prayer: This prayer may be done either by the teacher or


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 3 :39

by one of the paticipants appointed by the teacher before the session.

Concluding song: Sing a song that appropiately expresses the truths discovered in the session. The following songs are suggested: In the ■Celebration" Hymnal: "Beginningtoday,* "Joy to the world," "I have decided to follow Jesus," Take my life, 0 Lord." In "The Little

Praisers" Songbook: "What can 1 give to the King?"


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

40: SESSION 4

 

SESSION 4:

RESPONSE TO THE BIRTH OF JESUS IN LUKE 2

 

OBJECTIVE: To lead the paticipants to respond to the bith of Jesus in the light of chapter 2 of Lk's Infancy Narrative.

STRUCTURE OF THE SESSION:

1.     Introduction                                                                  10 minutes

2. The Bith of Jesus and the Census                                  30 minutes

Break                                                                             10 minutes

3. Response to the Good News

of Jesus' Bith                                                                20 minutes

4. Conclusion                                                                     20 minutes

 

 

I.    INTRODUCTION

1.1. WELCOME the participants to the session.

1.2. OPENING PRAYER: In this prayer the teacher will:

(a) first, thank God for the truths about Jesus discovered in the study
        of chapter 1 of Luke's IN, and

(b) second, invite the Holy Spirit lo enable the paticipants to per¬
       
sonally respond to Jesus in the light of what will be studied in this
       
final session.

LIGHT four candles on the Advent Wreath.

1.3. REVIEW with the paticipants the insights into Jesus gained in
        
studying the first chapter of Lk's IN. Jesus is God's gift to us at
        
Christmas.

For the teacher: Before the session begins, you may find it helpful to display these truths on posters placed prominently in the room. This will help the participants and make your review easier.

1.4. TELL: Remember that in his public ministry, Jesus" proclamation of
         
the Good News was met by a twofold response from people: some
         
believed and others did not. This same twofold response is found in
         
the second chapter of Mt and Lk's INs. Last week we studied the
         
response in the second chapter of Mt's IN.

In this fouth and .last session:

(a)  We will study the second chapter of Lks IN. In this chapter we
        will study the response that people made to the announcement
       
of the bith of Jesus.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 4:41

(b) We study their response in order to lean to make our personal
      
response to the bith of Jesus. This will be our gift to God at
      
Chistmas.

 

II. THE BIRTH OF JESUS AND THE CENSUS

2.1.   The bith of Jesus (2:1-7)

DISCOVER: Invite the paticipants to look at the Chat given to them and to note the elements in the structure of Lk's ch.2.

TELL: We now study the first passage on the bith of Jesus. Note that the fact of Jesus' bith is told very simply and briefly (2:7); more space is given to the census (2:1-6).

2.2.   The fact of the census (2:1-6)

For the teacher: Given the limited time at your disposal, there is no need to communicate to the participants the following information. This is only for your consumpion. According to Raymond Brown (1978:17), there are formidable historical difficulties about every facet of Luke's description and daing of the Quirinius census, and most critical scholars acknowledge a confusion and misdating on Luke's part.

- Minor difficulties are that there was no single census of the whole Roman
    
Empire under Augustus, and that there is no evidence that Roman cen¬
    
suses required one to go to one's place of ancestry (unless- one had
    
property there).

- More serious is Luke's connecion between the reign of Herod the Great
    
(1:5) and the census under Quiinius. Herod died in 4 B.C. Quirinius
    
became governor in Syria and conducted the first Roman census of Judea
    
in AD 6-7- and noice it was a census of Judea, not of Galilee as Luke
    
assumes. In Acts 5:37 Luke mistakenly mentions the revolt of Judas the
    
Galilean (provoked by the census of Quiinius) after the revolt of Theudas
    
which occurred in AD 44-46.

Such a confusion should pesent no difficulty to Catholics, since Vatican II made it dear that what the Scriptures teach without error is the truth intended by God for the sake of our salvation (DV:3.11), and that scarcely includes the exact date of a Roman census.

2.3.    The significance of the census

Why did Luke bing in the census to talk about the bith Of Jesus? What is the religious significance of Luke's desciption of the census?

(a) Luke needs the story of the census because he believes that
      
Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth (1:26-27; 2:4; 2:39), and so
      
he has to explain why they came to Bethlehem.

(b) The edict went out from Augustus Caesar when Quiinius was


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

42: SESSION 4

govenor of Syia He thus gives the bith of Jesus a solemn setting, comparable to that which he would give the baptism of Jesus by John - under Tiberius Caesar when Pontius PPate was prefect of Judea (3:1). He is thus pointing to the universal significance of the birth of Jesus. Augustus had brought an end to almost a century of civil war that had ravaged the Roman Empire, and at last the doors of the shrine of Janus in the Roman Forum, thrown open in times of war, were closed. The Age of Augustus was an age of peace. Augustus was hailed as the 'savior of the whole world," and his birthday was celebrated as "the beginning of the good news for the world."

Luke contradicts this political propaganda by showing that para¬ doxically the edict of Augustus served to provide a setting for the birth of Jesus, the true beginning of peace on earth. Jesus is the good news that the whole world is waiting for!

 

= SESSION BREAK =

 

3.  RESPONSE TO THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS' BIRTH

3.1. The "poor of Yahweh"

While Mt has a twofold response to the good news (acceptance and rejection), Luke presents us with only one category of people who received the good news with joy: the 'poor of Yahweh.'

The "anawim Yahweh* or the "poor of Yahweh" were those in Israel who lived their lives in total dependence on Yahweh. In their help¬ lessness they looked o him for their everything, they were open to his action in their lives. Often they belonged to the economically and socially poor, and this enabled them to be also spiitually poor. Luke presents us with several examples of the anawim in his IN: Zechaiah and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna.

3.2. The shepherds (2:8-20)

(1) The double angelic proclamation (2:8-14)

DISCOVER: The two proclamations made to the shepherds by the angels.

(1) The irst and the'more important is: "I announce to you good
       
news of a great joy... to you this day bom in the city of David
       
a Saviour who b Messiah and Lord" (2:10-11). Note the titles
       
given to Jesus: Saviour, Messiah, Lord.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 4:43

(2) The second angelic proclamation is the canticle: "Glory in
      
the highest heavens to God, and on eath peace to those
      
favored by him" (2:13-14).

(2) The response of the shepherds (2:15-20).

DISCOVER:

(1) The words (verbs) that express the shepherds' response to
       
the angelic announcement. After they heard, they WENT ...
       
FOUND... SAW... MADE KNOWN.

(2) They relumed glorifying and praising God for all they had
       
heard and seen ..." (2:20).

After their personal experience of Jesus, the shepherds became evangelists: they told others about the Good News.

3.3.    Simeon (2:25,35)

DISCOVER: The two truths about Jesus in Simeon's words.

(1) Jesus is the universal saviour: of the Jews and Gentiles.

"... mine eyes have seen thy salvation ...a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel" (w.30- 32).

(2) Jesus is a sign of contradiction. "Behold, this child is set for the
       
fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken
       
against..." (v.34).

3.4.   Anna (2:36-38)

DISCOVER: The two reactions of Anna after she had seen the child Jesus.

(1) She gave thanks to God (y.38).

(2) She evangelized: "She spoke of him to all who were looking for
       
the redemption of Jerusalem" (v. 38).

3.5.    Mary

In Lk's IN the response of Mary to the bith of Jesus is found at several moments. As we come to the end of our study of Lk's IN, let us co I lect together the various aspects of Mary's response. [Lead the par¬

ticipants to identify the following moments].

(a) At the Annunciation: 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let
       
it be to me according to your word" (1:38).

(b) At the Visitation in her Magnificat: for he who is mighty has done
       
great things for me, and holy is his name" (1:49).

(c) At the bith of Jesus: "Mary kept all these things, pondering them
       
in her heart* (2:19):


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

44: SESSION 4

(d) At the presentation of Jesus: "And his father and his mother
       
marvelled at what was said about him" (2:33).

(e) At the finding of Jesus in the Temple: "And they did not under¬
      
stand the saying which he spoke to them... and his mother kept
      
all these things in her heart* (2:50-51).

The response of Mary is fundamentally one of faith and obedient surrender to the action of God in her life. Luke portrays Mary as the 'pondeing" one. Though unable to fully understand what God was doing in her life, she busted him, she kept on reflecting on the events that were taking place in her life.

 

IV. OUR RESPONSE TO THE BIRTH OF JESUS

4.1. REVIEW with the help of the paticipants the response to the Good
        
News of the bith of Jesus in Lk 2. Who are the four examples of the
        
"Poor of Yahweh* depicted by Luke? (The shepherds, Simeon, Anna,
        
and Mary).

4.2. SHARE: What does the response of the shepherds teach us about
        
our own response to Jesus?

(a) Recall the key steps of the shepherds' response.

(b) It was only after their personal expeience of Jesus that the
       
shepherds became evangelists: they told others about the Good
       
News of Jesus. We cannot be evangelists without a personal
       
experience of Jesus and of the Good News that he is to us. What
       
personal experience of Jesus can you share with others to bring
       
them to Jesus?

4.3. SHARE: The shepherds belonged to the lowest level of Jewish
        
society. And yet the Good News was proclaimed to them!

(a) Identify the weak, depressed, poor, exploited sections of our
        society today who need to hear the Good News of salvation
       
through Jesus.

(b) How can you announce the Good News to these people in your
       
parish: (1) As an individual? (2) As a group?

4.4. SHARE: Studying 2:38, in what two ways is the response of Anna
        
similar to that of the shepherds?

(1) She gave thanks to God.

(2) She evangelized: "She spoke of him to all who were looking for
       
the redemption of Jerusalem."

4.5. SHARE: What does the response of Simeon teach us about our own
        
response to Jesus?


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SESSION 4: 45

(1) Jesus is the universal saviour If Jesus is the saviour of all, then
      
. all have a right to know about Jesus. What can we do to make
      
Jesus known to others?

(2) Jesus is a sign of contradiction: To follow Jesus means that we
       
cannot follow the ways of the world (cf.Rom 12:2).

(a) What are the ways of Ihe world that are contrary to the ways
        of Jesus? Identify them.

(b) To truly celebrate Jesus' bith at Christmas means that we
       
must decide to follow the way of Jesus and renounce the
       
way of the world.

4.6.  SHARE: What does the response of Mary teach us about our own

response to Jesus?

4.7.  SHARE: What are the ways in which we reject Jesus from our lives?

(1) After the manner of Herod:

(2) After the manner of the religious leaders:

4.8.        Concluding prayer: This prayer may be done either by the teacher or

by one of the paticipants appointed by the teacher before the session.

Concluding song: Sing a song that appropiately expresses the truths discovered in the session. The following songs are suggested: In the "Celebration" Hymnal: 'Somewhere far from town and people," 'Blessed are who are poor in spirit,' 'Great things happen when God mixes with man," "Long time ago in Bethlehem," "Come, come, come to the manger."

 

 

 

 

 

 

OL


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8: INTRODUCTION

assigned for each session - keep your other eye on the participants. Gently get all of them to speak, especially the timid ones.

(3) Use as many teaching aids as possible:

(a) The blackboard and chalk; (b) Chats; (c). Flipchats;.(d) Flannel-board; (e) Posters; (f) Overhead Projector; (g) Slides (check with Diocesan Catechetical Centre, Bandra, and Don Bosco Youth Services, Matunga).

(4) Select one or two appropiate songs for each session that
       
bing out the truths discovered HI the session. Either sing it
       
along with the paticipants, or let them hear it on a cassette
       
player.

(5) Begin a session by biefly revising what was covered in the
       
previous session. End a session by biefly revising what was
       
covered in the course of the session.

(6) Duing the session, be sensitive to the mood of the patici¬
      
pants. If their mood suggests it, feel free to pause for
      
spontaneous prayer or a song that will give expression to
      
that mood.

 

 

REFERENCES

Barclay, William

1975  THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW. Vol.1. Revised Ed. Theological
           
Publications of India, Bangalore, India. Pages 11^43.

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE Revised Ed. TPI, Bangalore, India Pages 7-30.

The commentary of Barclay on the New Testament books (and that includes the Infancy Narrative texts) enlightens the mind and warms the heat. While Catholics can most profitably read Barday. they must remember that he writes from out of the Protestant tradiion and therefore cetain statements made by him in his commentary do not reflect Catholic teaching. Such as the following:

(1)    Regarding the virginal conception of Jesus

This passage (Mk 1:18-25) tells us how Jesus was bom by the action of the Holy Spirit. It tets us of what we call the Virgin Birth. This is a doctrine which presents us with many difficulties: and our Church does not compel us to accept it in the literal and the physical sense. This is one of the doctines on which the Church says that we have fuB liberty to come to our own conclusion' (Commentary on Matthew: p.20).

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