ST-John Ep 31 – John 15 – I am the True Vine part 1 – The Gospel of St. John – Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Episode 31 – John 15 – I am the True Vine part 1

“I am the true vine.”  With this seventh and final “I am” statement, Chapter 15 of John’s Gospel focuses on our need to abide in Christ, remaining in His love.  The image of a vine reminds us of the many allegories in the Bible related to wine, grapes, and vineyards.

Sharon goes on to remind us that in the Old Testament, the oldest son did not always receive the blessing and birthright that was due to him.  In particular, Sharon focus on the story of Jacob and his 12 sons.  The blessing goes to Judah, the fourth-born son, and the birthright to Joseph.  Though his sons, Joseph received a double portion inheritance of the Promised Land.   The blessing given to Judah is fully fulfilled in Jesus, who was a member of the tribe of Judah.  And the birthright given to Joseph is also fully realized in Christ. God’s highly favored son Jesus, wins for us a double portion, God’s kingdom on earth (the church) as well as God’s heavenly Kingdom of heaven.   Joseph is a wonderful “type” of Christ, with numerous examples of striking parallels in their lives.  Genesis 49:22 describes Joseph as a fruitful bough or vine, which points towards Jesus, the true vine described in John 15.  In the Old Testament, the plentiful fruit of the vine would remind Israel of God’s promise for redemption, but unfortunately, Israel was often unfruitful, yielding wild or rotten grapes as described in Isaiah 5.  Jesus uses the same imagery in John 15 when he describes the blessings to those who abide in him and the destruction that occurs to those that do not.   God’s vine of Israel was meant to spread throughout the world but instead became an un-kept, disgraceful vineyard.   Israel was in need of a new and true vine, and Jesus fulfills that need.

Sharon then digs deeper into the imagery of John 15, showing us how God the Father is the husbandman of the vineyard, tending to the vines, pruning away the dead branches so that the vine may grow and flourish.  If we allow, God will cut out our sinful tendencies.  This discipline, while at times painful, is necessary for us to abide with Him.  The branches closest to the trunk of the vine bear the most fruit, encouraging us to always humbly remain as close as possible to God.  We recall the story of Solomon, who early in his life stayed close to the Lord, but as he grew more rich and powerful, he fell into the sin of pride, becoming increasingly self-sufficient and separated from the Lord.  Jesus tells us that without him, we can do nothing, but if we abide in him, our joy will be complete.  If we want to remain with Christ, we much follow his commands, which serve as a blueprint for our lives, bringing us to the fullness of joy that God desires for us. He wants us to bear eternal fruit that will last, and have a sober intoxication of His Holy Spirit, the sap that flows through the vine as we climb the trestle back to the Father.

Sharon Doran serves as the teaching director of “Seeking Truth.” An experienced Bible Study teacher, Sharon has a passion for scripture that will motivate and challenge you to immerse yourself in God’s Word and apply His message to your everyday life.

For more in this series visit the Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran Discerning Hearts page

“Seeking Truth” is an in-depth Catholic Bible Study, commissioned by the Archdiocese of Omaha in response to John Paul II’s call to the New Evangelization as well as Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation for all Catholics to study scripture. To learn more go to www.seekingtruth.net

ST-John Ep 30 – John 14 – I am the Way, the Truth and the Life part 2- The Gospel of St. John – Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Episode 30 – John 14 – I am the Way, the Truth and the Life part 2

We continue our study of John’s Gospel with Chapter 14.  This beautiful chapter has an abundance of nuptial imagery.  God designed marriage as a way to image the Trinity.  Just as life flows from the one-flesh union of man and woman, the life of the Holy Spirit flows from the union of the Father and Son, who are one.

From the beginning in Genesis, to the end in Revelation, the story of salvation is the story of the marriage between God and His people.  To nullify the marital covenant between God and Israel, one of the parties needed to die.  As we learn in Romans 7, through Jesus’ death on the cross, the marital covenant with Israel ends, freeing Christ to take a new bride, the universal Church.   We learn, though, that in order for the wedding to take place, the bride must be pure and blemish-free.  As we learned last time, through Baptism we are purified of original sin, and through Reconciliation, we are purified of the sins of our lives.

Returning to John 14, Sharon gives us a wonderful teaching about first-century Jewish wedding customs, which helps us to better understand the rich symbolism found in this chapter.  In ancient Palestine, extended families lived together in an expansive house called an insula.  With each successive generation, the sons would build additional rooms to accommodate their own wife and children.  After the wedding, the young bride would leave her own home and move in with the groom’s family.  The groom’s entire family, especially the parents, had to be willing to accept the bride into the insula, and her virtue was valued even more than her wealth or beauty.  The marital ritual began when the groom and his father journeyed to the bride’s home and negotiated the terms of the marriage, with the best man (aka the shushbin) acting as an intermediary between the two parties.

Once the terms were set, the couple was now officially betrothed, though not yet married.  The son announces he will go and prepare a place for his bride, returning when all the necessary preparations were complete.  The son would return home and prepare the insula for the arrival of his bride.  The bride prepares herself for the return of the groom, but she does not know how long it will take for him to return.  After the necessary construction is completed, the father gives his son permission to return for his bride.

On the day of the wedding, the return of the groom to his bride is announced with the blowing of the shofar horn.  The shushbin stands by as the marriage is consummated, and then offers proof of the bride’s purity through the display of the marital bedding.  Knowing this, we now have a much better understanding of Jesus’ promise to return to us after he prepares a place for us in his Father’s house.  Jesus invites us into marital union with him, a blood covenant that was consummated with his death on the cross, the cup of acceptance of this New Blood Covenant that we drink from the chalice at Mass.  The Holy Spirit, the shushbin, guarantees the purity of the Church, the bride of Christ by keeping her pure and blemish-free through the sacraments.

Sharon Doran serves as the teaching director of “Seeking Truth.” An experienced Bible Study teacher, Sharon has a passion for scripture that will motivate and challenge you to immerse yourself in God’s Word and apply His message to your everyday life.

For more in this series visit the Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran Discerning Hearts page

“Seeking Truth” is an in-depth Catholic Bible Study, commissioned by the Archdiocese of Omaha in response to John Paul II’s call to the New Evangelization as well as Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation for all Catholics to study scripture. To learn more go to www.seekingtruth.net

ST-John Ep 29- John 14 – I am the Way, the Truth and the Life part 1- The Gospel of St. John – Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Episode 29 – John 14 – I am the Way, the Truth and the Life part 1

We continue our study of John’s Gospel with Chapter 14.  This beautiful chapter has an abundance of nuptial imagery.  God designed marriage as a way to image the Trinity.  Just as life flows from the one-flesh union of man and woman, the life of the Holy Spirit flows from the union of the Father and Son, who are one.

From the beginning in Genesis, to the end in Revelation, the story of salvation is the story of the marriage between God and His people.  To nullify the marital covenant between God and Israel, one of the parties needed to die.  As we learn in Romans 7, through Jesus’ death on the cross, the marital covenant with Israel ends, freeing Christ to take a new bride, the universal Church.   We learn, though, that in order for the wedding to take place, the bride must be pure and blemish free.  As we learned last time, through Baptism we are purified of original sin, and through Reconciliation we are purified of the sins of our lives.

Returning to John 14, Sharon gives us a wonderful teaching about first century Jewish wedding customs, which helps us to better understand the rich symbolism found in this chapter.  In ancient Palestine, extended families lived together in an expansive house called an insula.  With each successive generation, the sons would build additional rooms to accommodate their own wife and children.  After the wedding, the young bride would leave her own home and move in with the groom’s family.  The groom’s entire family, especially the parents, had to be willing to accept the bride into the insula, and her virtue was valued even more than her wealth or beauty.  The marital ritual began when the groom and his father journeyed to the bride’s home and negotiated the terms of the marriage, with the best man (aka the shushbin) acting as an intermediary between the two parties.

Once the terms were set, the couple was now officially betrothed, though not yet married.  The son announces he will go and prepare a place for his bride, returning when all the necessary preparations were complete.  The son would return home and prepare the insula for the arrival of his bride.  The bride prepares herself for the return of the groom, but she does not know how long it will take for him to return.  After the necessary construction is completed, the father gives his son permission to return for his bride.

On the day of the wedding, the return of the groom to his bride is announced with the blowing of the shofar horn.  The shushbin stands by as the marriage is consummated, and then offers proof of the bride’s purity through the display of the marital bedding.  Knowing this, we now have a much better understanding of Jesus’ promise to return to us after he prepares a place for us in his Father’s house.  Jesus invites us into marital union with him, a blood covenant that was consummated with his death on the cross, the cup of acceptance of this New Blood Covenant that we drink from the chalice at Mass.  The Holy Spirit, the shushbin, guarantees the purity of the Church, the bride of Christ by keeping her pure and blemish free through the sacraments.

Sharon Doran serves as the teaching director of “Seeking Truth.” An experienced Bible Study teacher, Sharon has a passion for scripture that will motivate and challenge you to immerse yourself in God’s Word and apply His message to your everyday life.

For more in this series visit the Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran Discerning Hearts page

“Seeking Truth” is an in-depth Catholic Bible Study, commissioned by the Archdiocese of Omaha in response to John Paul II’s call to the New Evangelization as well as Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation for all Catholics to study scripture. To learn more go to www.seekingtruth.net

ST-John Ep 28- John 13 – Jesus: The Servant of Love part 2 – The Gospel of St. John – Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Episode 28 – John 13 – Jesus:  The Servant of Love part 2

“Chapter 13 of the Gospel of John marks the end of the Book of Signs and the beginning of the Book of Glory.  The hour of glory—the hour of the crucifixion—has started.

Chapters 13-16 are an extended discourse by Jesus, who is preparing his disciples for his exodus, his departure from this world back to his heavenly Father.  The washing of the disciples’ feet is laden with nuptial imagery, a theme that runs throughout the entire Bible.

Beginning with Adam and Eve, the story of salvation is the story of the marriage between God and His people.  God entered into a spiritual marriage with Adam and Eve, but this perfect union was shattered by original sin.  But through our bodily nature, God has given us a glimpse into the image of the trinity.  As John Paul II states in his Theology of the Body, “only the body is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It has been created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the mystery hidden from eternity in God, and thus to be a sign of it.”  The eternal mystery is the union of the three persons of the Trinity. Man’s spiritual union with God, fractured by sin, is restored at the crucifixion, the wedding celebration of Christ and His Church.

Mary is the perfect model of spiritual marriage with Christ.  She and John the Evangelist stayed in communion with Jesus as he hung on the cross.   The message for us is to stay in communion with God and with each other, avoiding the temptation to run away from the messy crosses of our lives.  Over the years, a number of saints have experienced a spiritual marriage with Jesus, and Sharon tells us the story of Catherine of Siena who suffered from the invisible stigmata in her union with Christ.

Turning back to the foot-washing, Sharon shows us the spiritual meaning of this story.  Before a wedding, the bride must be blemish-free, washed free of the stain of sin.  Baptism cleanses us from original sin, while reconciliation removes the filth of all other sin in our lives.  When Jesus washes the feet of the apostles, he is spiritually washing away the guilt of sin, prefiguring the sacrament of reconciliation, “that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Eph 5:27).”  Stripping down to his linen ephod, Jesus performs the intimate, yet priestly ritual of washing the apostles’ feet, preparing them to enter into the spiritual union of the crucifixion and to become the first priests of a new priesthood of which he is the Eternal High Priest. ”

Sharon Doran serves as the teaching director of “Seeking Truth.” An experienced Bible Study teacher, Sharon has a passion for scripture that will motivate and challenge you to immerse yourself in God’s Word and apply His message to your everyday life.

For more in this series visit the Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran Discerning Hearts page

“Seeking Truth” is an in-depth Catholic Bible Study, commissioned by the Archdiocese of Omaha in response to John Paul II’s call to the New Evangelization as well as Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation for all Catholics to study scripture. To learn more go to www.seekingtruth.net

ST-John Ep 27- John 13 – Jesus: The Servant of Love part 1 – The Gospel of St. John – Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Episode 27 – John 13 – Jesus:  The Servant of Love part 1

“Chapter 13 of the Gospel of John marks the end of the Book of Signs and the beginning of the Book of Glory.  The hour of glory—the hour of the crucifixion—has started.

Chapters 13-16 are an extended discourse by Jesus, who is preparing his disciples for his exodus, his departure from this world back to his heavenly Father.  The washing of the disciples’ feet is laden with nuptial imagery, a theme that runs throughout the entire Bible.

Beginning with Adam and Eve, the story of salvation is the story of the marriage between God and His people.  God entered into a spiritual marriage with Adam and Eve, but this perfect union was shattered by original sin.  But through our bodily nature, God has given us a glimpse into the image of the trinity.  As John Paul II states in his Theology of the Body, “only the body is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It has been created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the mystery hidden from eternity in God, and thus to be a sign of it.”  The eternal mystery is the union of the three persons of the Trinity. Man’s spiritual union with God, fractured by sin, is restored at the crucifixion, the wedding celebration of Christ and His Church.

Mary is the perfect model of spiritual marriage with Christ.  She and John the Evangelist stayed in communion with Jesus as he hung on the cross.   The message for us is to stay in communion with God and with each other, avoiding the temptation to run away from the messy crosses of our lives.  Over the years, a number of saints have experienced a spiritual marriage with Jesus, and Sharon tells us the story of Catherine of Siena who suffered from the invisible stigmata in her union with Christ.

Turning back to the foot-washing, Sharon shows us the spiritual meaning of this story.  Before a wedding, the bride must be blemish-free, washed free of the stain of sin.  Baptism cleanses us from original sin, while reconciliation removes the filth of all other sin in our lives.  When Jesus washes the feet of the apostles, he is spiritually washing away the guilt of sin, prefiguring the sacrament of reconciliation, “that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Eph 5:27).”  Stripping down to his linen ephod, Jesus performs the intimate, yet priestly ritual of washing the apostles’ feet, preparing them to enter into the spiritual union of the crucifixion and to become the first priests of a new priesthood of which he is the Eternal High Priest. ”

Sharon Doran serves as the teaching director of “Seeking Truth.” An experienced Bible Study teacher, Sharon has a passion for scripture that will motivate and challenge you to immerse yourself in God’s Word and apply His message to your everyday life.

For more in this series visit the Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran Discerning Hearts page

“Seeking Truth” is an in-depth Catholic Bible Study, commissioned by the Archdiocese of Omaha in response to John Paul II’s call to the New Evangelization as well as Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation for all Catholics to study scripture. To learn more go to www.seekingtruth.net

ST-John Ep 26- John 12 – The Glory of the Lord part 2 – The Gospel of St. John – Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Episode 26 – John 12: The Glory of the Lord part 2

“John 12 begins just six days before Jesus’ final Passover on earth. Gathering with some of his disciples, Jesus is dining at the house of Lazarus, who had just been risen from the dead. Sharon gives us the background of typical Greco-Roman dining, where guests would recline at table to eat their meal, and afterward, would be entertained by musicians and sometimes even prostitutes. We recall King Herod, married illicitly to Herodias, who promised even half his kingdom to Herodias’ daughter Salome after she performed a seductive after-dinner dance. Prompted by her mother, Salome demands the head of John the Baptist, who had publicly criticized the marriage between Herod and Herodias. In some paintings, Salome is pictured with a vial of spikenard, a rare, expensive, richly aromatic oil.

Sharon goes on to explain the significance of spikenard for a first-century Jewish girl. Spikenard was kept in an alabaster jar, and on her wedding night, the virgin bride would break open the jar, anoint her new groom, and consummate the wedding. With this background, we now better understand the beautiful meaning behind the actions of Mary of Bethany, who breaks open an enormous jar of spikenard, anoints the feet of Jesus, and then dries them with her hair. Mary desires to give everything to Jesus and enter into a spiritual marriage. She wants to lavish him with not only her most precious earthly gift, but even more, with the priceless gift of her total self: heart, mind, soul, and strength.

6 Spikenard was also used for burial anointing, but having just seen her brother rise from the dead, Mary knows Jesus will also rise and have no need for the burial anointing. Instead, Mary anoints Jesus now as her spiritual spouse. Sharon then moves on to the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, showing how Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah 9, entering into his kingship riding atop a donkey. To reach Jerusalem, Jesus would have processed through Bethany and Bethphage. Sharon unlocks the importance of Bethphage, also known as the House of Un-ripened Figs. Despite being a few miles outside the city walls, Bethphage was still considered to be part of Jerusalem and was home to two members holding seats in the Sanhedrin. The irony of Jesus processing past this town is profound: any judicial order to execute a rebellious leader had to be made in Bethphage. Today Jesus rides triumphantly past Bethphage; in just a few short days, his execution will be confirmed in Bethphage. ”

Sharon Doran serves as the teaching director of “Seeking Truth.” An experienced Bible Study teacher, Sharon has a passion for scripture that will motivate and challenge you to immerse yourself in God’s Word and apply His message to your everyday life.

For more in this series visit the Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran Discerning Hearts page

“Seeking Truth” is an in-depth Catholic Bible Study, commissioned by the Archdiocese of Omaha in response to John Paul II’s call to the New Evangelization as well as Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation for all Catholics to study scripture. To learn more go to www.seekingtruth.net

An Advent Special – The Gospel of St. Luke – Chapter 1 – Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran – Discerning Hearts Podcast

An Advent Special – The Gospel of Luke – Chapter 1

The Virgin Mary is at the center of the beginning of our lecture covering Luke 1. The church fathers, including Ambrose and Augustine, realized that Mary’s perpetual virginity was anticipated by the Old Testament prophets.  In Ezekiel 44, we read about the locked eastern gate of the sanctuary, which could only be entered by the messianic prince.  Mary is ever inviolate, even while giving birth to Jesus:  like light passing through glass, Jesus was born of Mary, whose virginal integrity remained preserved.  Mary serves as the gateway to heaven, through which passes Jesus.

Luke 1 begins with an address to “Most excellent Theophilus,” who may be a specific high ranking official.  “Theophilus” also means beloved of God, and Luke might instead be writing an open letter the entire Christian community.  Luke provides the historical detail that Herod is king at the time Jesus’ birth.  Herod the Great, an Edomite, was not the legitimate ruler of Israel.  Rather, he was a puppet king propped up by the occupying Romans.  The Edomites were the descendants of Esau and the Israelites were the descendants of Jacob.  The two nations were forever in conflict ever since Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew and Jacob deceived his blind father, obtaining the blessing that was rightfully due to Esau.

Many Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in Luke 1, most notably the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, which announces that a virgin shall conceive and give birth to a son called Immanuel.  In addition, the mission of John the Baptist is foretold by the final prophet of the Old Testament, Malachi: “Behold, I will send you Eli′jah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers (Mal 4: 5-6).”  Jesus himself describes John as “Elijah who is to come” (Mt 11: 14).

Luke 1 begins with the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John.  Elizabeth and Zechariah were righteous before the Lord, yet they had not yet been blessed with children.  Zechariah, a priest, was chosen by lot to pray within the Holy of Holies.  Ironically, during the time of Zechariah, the Ark of the Covenant is no longer present in the Holy of Holies, having been hidden by Jeremiah the prophet, never again to be found (2 Maccabees 2).   The angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah and echoes the words of Malachi, predicting the birth of John the Baptist, the Elijah yet to come.  Zechariah doubts Gabriel and is struck mute.  The last time Gabriel appeared was during the Babylonian exile when he told Daniel that it would be “70 weeks of years” of atonement for Israel.  Indeed, 490 years later, Jesus the Messiah ushers in the end of atonement for Israel.

Luke 1 continues with the Annunciation to Mary.  The angel Gabriel again appears, this time to Mary, greeting her: “Hail, full of grace!”  The Greek word for this phrase is “kecharitomene” which means that Mary was full of grace, is full of grace and will be full of grace, which is a reference to her life-long sinless nature.   The angel tells Mary, “Be not afraid.”  These words of encouragement were given to Joshua, Gideon and Moses as they prepared for battle, indicating that while Gabriel was comforting Mary, he was also preparing her for the battle yet to come.

Finally, the lecture concludes with a glimpse into the early life of Mary, drawing from the extra-biblical source “The Protoevangelium of James.”   While not part of the canon of inspired scripture, this text tells us of the early years of Mary.  From this text, we learn the names of Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anna.  According to “The Protoevangelium of James,” Joachim and Anna were childless and advanced in years when an angel appears in a vision, announcing that they will have a child.  In a singular act of grace, Mary is conceived without the stain of original sin.

Sharon Doran serves as the teaching director of “Seeking Truth.” An experienced Bible Study teacher, Sharon has a passion for scripture that will motivate and challenge you to immerse yourself in God’s Word and apply His message to your everyday life.

For more in this series visit the Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran Discerning Hearts page

“Seeking Truth” is an in-depth Catholic Bible Study, commissioned by the Archdiocese of Omaha in response to John Paul II’s call to the New Evangelization as well as Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation for all Catholics to study scripture. To learn more go to www.seekingtruth.net

An Advent Special – The Gospel of St. Luke – An Overview – Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran – Discerning Hearts Podcast

An Advent Special – The Gospel of Luke – An Overview

“We begin our study of the Gospel of Luke with an overview lecture, beginning with what we know about the author himself.  From the historian, Eusebius, we learn that Luke was a physician from Antioch, an ancient Greek city located in Asia Minor.  Antioch was the center of the early Church, and it was here that the followers of Jesus came to be known as “Christians.”  Luke, a companion of St. Paul, is responsible for the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, which comprise the greatest percentage of the New Testament.

The word “Gospel” means “Good News” and comes from the Greek word, “euangelion.”   During the first century, the fastest growing religion was the imperial cult of Roman emperor worship. The word “euangelion” took on religious significance with the announcement of the “good news” of a new emperor, a new “god.”  For Christians, however, the “euangelion” meant the “good news” of the new King of Kings, Jesus Christ.

As a physician, Luke wrote his Gospel to bring the medicine needed for our wounded souls.  The new medicine came from the new tree of life, the cross, and the medicine of immortality is the Eucharist.  “Every time this mystery is celebrated, “the work of our redemption is carried on” and we “break the one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live forever in Jesus Christ (CCC 1405).”

Through the incarnation, Christ joined in our humanity and introduced His kingdom to the world.  As the final High Priest, Jesus completes the perfect sacrifice on the cross.  God desires that we cooperate with His plan of salvation, joining in His suffering, to complete “what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church (Col 1:24).”  “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless (Eph 5:25-27).”

Christ has cleansed the Church, making her holy, yet we know that the Church is made up of sinners in need of healing.  Jesus, the divine physician, has left us with the healing sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick.  What is hidden in shame and secrecy needs to be brought to the light so that healing can take place:  “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God (John 3:20-21).”
Further details about St. Luke come from the Church Father St. Hippolytus, a disciple of Irenaeus, who was a disciple of Polycarp who followed St. John the Evangelist. Hippolytus tells us that Luke was one of the 70 disciples mentioned in Luke 10 who were sent out to spread the Good News to the surrounding countries.  These 70 were also the same disciples who walked away from Jesus when they could not understand Jesus’ command to eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6: 66).  Later, St. Mark was persuaded back to the fold by St. Peter and it was St. Paul who encouraged Luke to return as a follower of Jesus, and the two became great friends.
As we will learn this year, despite being one of the Synoptics that “see together”, the Gospel of Luke has many unique stories not found in the other Gospels.  Luke likely personally interviewed Mary, bringing us the beautiful infancy narratives.  The stories behind the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, can all be found in the first two chapters of Luke.  From Luke, we receive the Canticles of Mary, Zechariah and Simeon.  Only in Luke are found the stories of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.  The Gospel of Luke is the Gospel of joy, mercy and the Holy Spirit.

Sharon Doran serves as the teaching director of “Seeking Truth.” An experienced Bible Study teacher, Sharon has a passion for scripture that will motivate and challenge you to immerse yourself in God’s Word and apply His message to your everyday life.

For more in this series visit the Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran Discerning Hearts page

“Seeking Truth” is an in-depth Catholic Bible Study, commissioned by the Archdiocese of Omaha in response to John Paul II’s call to the New Evangelization as well as Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation for all Catholics to study scripture. To learn more go to www.seekingtruth.net

ST-John Ep 25- John 12 – The Glory of the Lord part 1 – The Gospel of St. John – Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Episode 25 – John 12: The Glory of the Lord part 1

“John 12 begins just six days before Jesus’ final Passover on earth. Gathering with some of his disciples, Jesus is dining at the house of Lazarus, who had just been risen from the dead. Sharon gives us the background of typical Greco-Roman dining, where guests would recline at table to eat their meal, and afterward, would be entertained by musicians and sometimes even prostitutes. We recall King Herod, married illicitly to Herodias, who promised even half his kingdom to Herodias’ daughter Salome after she performed a seductive after-dinner dance. Prompted by her mother, Salome demands the head of John the Baptist, who had publicly criticized the marriage between Herod and Herodias. In some paintings, Salome is pictured with a vial of spikenard, a rare, expensive, richly aromatic oil.

Sharon goes on to explain the significance of spikenard for a first-century Jewish girl. Spikenard was kept in an alabaster jar, and on her wedding night, the virgin bride would break open the jar, anoint her new groom, and consummate the wedding. With this background, we now better understand the beautiful meaning behind the actions of Mary of Bethany, who breaks open an enormous jar of spikenard, anoints the feet of Jesus, and then dries them with her hair. Mary desires to give everything to Jesus and enter into a spiritual marriage. She wants to lavish him with not only her most precious earthly gift, but even more, with the priceless gift of her total self: heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Clarifying a common misconception, Sharon explains that Mary of Bethany is not the same person as Mary Magdalene or one of several other Mary’s found elsewhere in the Bible. Spikenard was also used for burial anointing, but having just seen her brother rise from the dead, Mary knows Jesus will also rise and have no need for the burial anointing. Instead, Mary anoints Jesus now as her spiritual spouse. Sharon then moves on to the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, showing how Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah 9, entering into his kingship riding atop a donkey. To reach Jerusalem, Jesus would have processed through Bethany and Bethphage. Sharon unlocks the importance of Bethphage, also known as the House of Un-ripened Figs. Despite being a few miles outside the city walls, Bethphage was still considered to be part of Jerusalem and was home to two members holding seats in the Sanhedrin. The irony of Jesus processing past this town is profound: any judicial order to execute a rebellious leader had to be made in Bethphage. Today Jesus rides triumphantly past Bethphage; in just a few short days, his execution will be confirmed in Bethphage. ”

Sharon Doran serves as the teaching director of “Seeking Truth.” An experienced Bible Study teacher, Sharon has a passion for scripture that will motivate and challenge you to immerse yourself in God’s Word and apply His message to your everyday life.

For more in this series visit the Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran Discerning Hearts page

“Seeking Truth” is an in-depth Catholic Bible Study, commissioned by the Archdiocese of Omaha in response to John Paul II’s call to the New Evangelization as well as Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation for all Catholics to study scripture. To learn more go to www.seekingtruth.net

ST-John Ep 24- John 11- I AM the Resurrection part 2 – The Gospel of St. John – Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Episode 24 – John 11:  I AM the Resurrection part 2

“And I look forward to the resurrection of the dead.” With these words, we conclude our profession of faith at mass each week and today’s lesson is a very important teaching on this fundamental Catholic belief. In John 11, we read about the 5th sign (the raising of Lazarus) and the 7th “I Am” statement: “I am the resurrection and the life.”

The resurrection of Lazarus not only foreshadows the resurrection of Christ, but it is also a confirmation of the universal resurrection of the dead. Sharon reminds us of other resurrections found in the Bible. In the Old Testament, Elijah raises the son of the Zarephath widow, Elisha raises the son of the Shunammite woman and a dead man comes to life when he is buried next to the bones of Elisha. In the New Testament, Jesus raises not only Lazarus but also the daughter of Jarius and the son of the widow of Nain. In Acts of Apostles, Peter raises Tabitha (aka Dorcas) and Paul raises Eutychus.

The raising of the dead, particularly Lazarus, confirms our hope for the universal resurrection of the dead prophesied in Ezekiel 37. Sharon emphasizes a fundamental tenant of our faith: at the second coming of Jesus Christ, we will all experience a bodily resurrection, either to the resurrection of life in heaven or to the resurrection of condemnation in hell. We will be reunited with either our glorified or condemned bodies.

Looking more closely at the story of Lazarus, Sharon teaches us that John is theological and not necessarily chronological in how he presents the life of Jesus. The theme of the resurrection of the dead is found elsewhere in John’ Gospel: “the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment (5:28-29).” As when he healed the man born blind, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead so that God will be glorified. This miracle is deeply personal for Jesus. He could have chosen to spare Lazarus from death, healing him from afar, just as he did with the royal official’s son in John 4. Instead, he enters into the suffering of Mary and Martha, weeping for the friends he loves so dearly. As a result of the fall, death entered the world, separating humanity from the Father.

Through the death and resurrection of Christ, death no longer separates us from the Father; death becomes the gateway back to the Father. When Christ comes again, those dead in Christ will rise first and their glorified bodies will be reunited with their souls in heaven and so we can with great hope profess at mass: “And I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come!”

 

Sharon Doran serves as the teaching director of “Seeking Truth.” An experienced Bible Study teacher, Sharon has a passion for scripture that will motivate and challenge you to immerse yourself in God’s Word and apply His message to your everyday life.

For more in this series visit the Seeking Truth with Sharon Doran Discerning Hearts page

“Seeking Truth” is an in-depth Catholic Bible Study, commissioned by the Archdiocese of Omaha in response to John Paul II’s call to the New Evangelization as well as Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation for all Catholics to study scripture. To learn more go to www.seekingtruth.net