THE BREAD OF LIFE CATHOLIC BIBLE STUDY
By Deacon Ken and Marie Finn
BEFORE YOU BEGIN:
Pray and ask God to speak to you through His Holy Spirit.
“THE PARACLETE, THE HOLY SPIRIT WHOM THE FATHER WILL SEND IN MY NAME, WILL INSTRUCT YOU IN EVERYTHING, AND REMIND YOU OF ALL THAT I TOLD YOU.” (JOHN 14:26)
Application (from last week)
The first reading tells us that a person’s reputation was largely connected to his hospitality. The second reading tells us that the Good News of the Gospel is available to everyone. The Gospel reveals that it is God’s agenda not ours that is to be followed.
Let us be available as Abraham and a servant to others, and let the mystery of Christ’s presence within us be available to all we meet. Mary listened to Christ and she heard his heart as well as his words; let us do no less.
We can be present to our families only when we are listening and understanding what they are saying and not saying. The essence of the Christian life is not doing, but rather it is dying. It is in dying to one’s own needs and being available to listen and respond to other’s needs.
FIRST DAY Reread last week’s readings.
- What was a helpful or new thought from the readings or from the homily you heard on Sunday?
- From what you learned, what personal application did you choose to apply to your life this week?
SECOND DAY READ GENESIS 18:20-32 FIRST READING
(“The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great,and their sin so grave,”)
- What did the Lord say about Sodom and Gomorrah? Genesis 18:20-21
- What was one of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah? Genesis 19:4-9
- Why did the Lord go down to Sodom and Gomorrah? Genesis 18:21
- Who were the two men that walked on further while Abraham remained standing before the Lord? Genesis 19:1
- What did Abraham say to the Lord in Genesis 18:23?
- What did he say about fifty innocent people? Genesis 18:24
- What was Abraham’s statement to the Lord, and what was the Lord’s reply? Genesis 18:25-26
- How did Abraham see himself, with what did Abraham persist in questioning the Lord, and what was the Lord’s answer?Genesis 18:27-32.
- How many times did he persist with his questions? Genesis 18:24-32.
- As soon as the Lord had finished speaking to Abraham, where did he go, and where did Abraham go? Genesis 18:33.
Personal – In what specific area have you been persistent in praying to the Lord? How often do you get into conversations with the Lord as Abraham did?
THIRD DAY READ COLOSSIANS 2:12-14 SECOND READING
(“God gave you new life in company with Christ.”)
- What two things happened to you in Baptism? Colossians 2:12
- In whom did these two things happen and why? Colossians 2:8-9 Colossians 2:12.
- Who raised Jesus from the dead? Colossians 2:12
- What condition were you in when God gave you new life?Colossians 2:13
- When you were dead in sin, to whom did you give allegiance? Ephesians 2:1-2.
- With whom was this new life that God gave you? Colossians 2:13
- How can we partake of this new life? Romans 6:3-4
- What did he do with all of our sins? Colossians 2:13
- What did he cancel, and taking it; what did he do with it?Colossians 2:14
- What did Jesus do in his own flesh, what did this create in him, and what was the result? Ephesians 2:14-15
Personal – In what way do people see in you a person who has been pardoned of all your sins? Take time to thank God for freeing you from the bondage of sin which he did by sending Jesus to die on the cross for you. Spend time in conversation with our Father this week.
FOURTH DAY READ LUKE 11:1-13 GOSPEL
(“Lord, teach us to pray.”)
- What did the disciples of Jesus observe him doing in a certain place, and what did they ask him? Luke 11:1
- To whom did Jesus say you first address your prayer, and what two things do you say to him? Luke 11:2
- Next, what do you ask him to do? Luke 11:3
- What do we ask him to do for us as we do the same to others? Luke 11:4
- From what do we ask him to forgive us? Luke 11:4.
Personal – How have you used the five levels of prayer in the Our Father this past week? (Praise; Acceptance; Petition; Forgiveness; Protection). Let this include your family life and work.
- Jesus tells a parable on prayer in Luke 11:5-8. What is a reason he gives for prayer to be answered? Luke 11:8.
- What does Jesus say will happen when you ask, when you seek, and when you knock? Luke 11:9.
- What does he repeat in verse 10 of Luke 11?
- What analogy does he use about our earthly fathers? Luke 11:11-12
Personal – When did you personally ask God to give you the Holy Spirit? What change took place in your life?
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 138:1-3, 6-8
(“I will give thanks to you.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 138:1-3, 6-8.
What is the Lord saying to you personally through the Psalm?
How can you apply this to your life?
SIXTH DAY READ ALL OF THE COMMENTARY
Abraham introduces to us the idea that prayer is the means through which we can better comprehend the mind of God. Abraham is well aware of the evil that is going on in Sodom, and he begins his prayer for the Lord’s people, including Lot, his nephew and Lot’s family. It appears that Abraham was attempting to change God’s mind but in the process Abraham’s mind was changed.
Abraham never doubted that God hated sin and that sinners would be punished. But he may have been confused on just how merciful God really is. He is seen probing the mind of God and ending his prayer convinced that God is both kind and fair. Abraham’s prayer is in many ways like ours, always subject to change. We might question why God let Abraham intercede for a city of people who were so wicked. God wanted Abraham to personally experience God’s mercy towards sinners. God knew that there were not ten righteous people in the city of Sodom, but he was delighted with Abraham’s intent to intercede for them.
God wants us to constantly intercede for others, so that they can repent and come back to the kingdom of righteousness. It is very important that we see God, not as one who enjoys destroying the wicked, but as one who must punish sin. God was fair in testing the men of Sodom. He told Abraham that he was going to see for himself how wicked the people of Sodom were and then he would decide what to do (Genesis 18:20). God was not ignorant of the perversion that was going on in the city (Gen. 19:4-9), but in his mercy he gave the people one last chance to turn to him.
God is still waiting for his people to turn to him (2 Peter 3:9). We are that people. We too can suffer the same fate as the people of Sodom. We need only to look around and see the moral perversion that has become so common and acceptable in our society. Abraham prayed that God would not destroy the city if only ten people were righteous. We need to reflect and pray that there are enough good people in our community.
God wills that none of us should perish. God was not unfair to the people of Sodom. He showed great mercy to Lot, who had only a mild relationship with him. We are told in scripture, “Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). Let us not be like the Sodomites who risked God’s patience wearing out. Rather, let us imitate Abraham and be people of prayer and righteousness.
In Paul’s day, the Church’s common form of Baptism was total immersion. This was because the majority of new Christians were adult converts. The Christian family had not yet come into existence which led naturally to infant baptism.
The new Christians were completely submerged in water. This submersion symbolized the death and burial of their old way of life. The coming up out of the water symbolized the resurrection of Christ from the dead. We who have been baptized need only think of our old sinful life as dead and buried. Then we will have a powerful motive to resist sin. We do not want to empower that ugly part of our past.
Through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the power of his Holy Spirit, we can consciously choose to treat the old nature as dead and enjoy our wonderful new life with Jesus Christ. Through our baptism, we now have a new nature. God crucified the old one (Romans 6:6) and replaced it with a new loving nature (Colossians 3:9-10). It is important for us to realize that God does not take us out of the world and make us into religious robots. We still have that tendency to sin occasionally and sometimes we do sin.
Incredibly, before we were saved we were slaves to a sinful nature, but now, through faith in Jesus Christ, we can choose to live for Christ. We can enjoy our new life in Christ because we have joined him in his death and resurrection. Our evil desires, our love of sin, and our bondage to sin have died with him. Now, joining him in his resurrection, we can have unbroken fellowship with God and freedom from sin.
Our debt for sin has been paid in full, our sins are swept away and forgotten. We can be clean and new. We need not be torn apart by the distractions in our society, families and even within ourselves. We have been saved from the grasp of Satan by Christ through Baptism. We have become heirs of the King and children of God. We need only remember that because of our baptism “the Spirit that is within us is greater than anyone in the world.” (1 John 4:4).
Our baptism brings into our temple the awesome power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes us far more than just conquerors. Spend time with our heavenly Father this week. Giving prayer and praise will strengthen our response in faith. Those around us will see that we are people of prayer and power.
After finishing a regular, much needed, and fulfilling time of prayer, Jesus was asked by his disciples to teach them how to pray. Jesus was a devout Jew who practiced his faith very diligently by reading his scripture and spending time in prayer. He knew that his power and success in his mission came from his heavenly Father. We too can take on this attitude of humility especially when we look around and see the accomplishments that we have made in our families, jobs, etc. We need to remember that we can’t do anything of lasting value by ourselves.
Our only power and success comes from God (2 Cor. 3:5). This is why praying is so powerful and so needed in our lives today. Jesus taught them what we call today the “perfect prayer.” First, he identifies God as “Father,” which immediately ties him into a special relationship. The Hebrew word for father is “Abba” or daddy. Jesus, by calling him that name, states that he knows him personally. Not only he but all who make this prayer can be included in this intimate relationship. He lets us know right from the beginning that Our Father can be trusted completely.
Jesus praises his Father and then he makes his requests. Praising God first puts us in the right frame of mind to tell him about our needs. The most powerful way to break out of a depression is through praise. We step out of ourselves when we are truly praising someone else.
Many times our prayer is a shopping list, and not a conversation, between two people who love each other. We see his precious name being hallowed or blessed. This makes sense when we realize that in Hebrew times a person’s name was his entire character, his strength, and his reputation. God’s name was blessed because all who called on it would also be blessed. His kingdom was not only coming to earth but was in fact already here, transforming and saving the earth through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s provision of bread is daily, not once but for all. We can’t just store it up and then cut off communication with God. We dare not become fully self-satisfied. If we are running low on strength, we need only to ask ourselves how long have we been away from the source. The cornerstone of this prayer is forgiveness. Forgiveness, like love, is a decision that must be made in our relationship with God. We can choose not to forgive and hold someone else in bondage, or we can choose to forgive and loosen someone from the bondage of being imprisoned.
Jesus very clearly shows us that his love is a love of forgiveness. We are to love as his Father loves and to love as Jesus loves. We must forgive those who have wronged us just as he has forgiven us who have wronged him. To remain unforgiving shows that we have not understood that we ourselves, along with all others, deeply need to forgive.
After the Lord’s prayer, Jesus continues to explain the need for persistence in prayer by an example of a friend waking his neighbor in the middle of the night asking for food. We need to be as persistent in our prayer as the man knocking on his neighbor’s door.
God who loves us receives our prayers as a perfect Father would and we should be persistent in praying to him. His response to us is always for our own good, even if we don’t understand fully the response at the time. He is our Father, he is blessed, and he forgives us. We as his children honor him by our prayers, our praise, and our forgiveness of others.
The first reading shows that Abraham prayed constantly and with great persistence. The second reading tells us that we are dead to the old sinful nature through Christ, and the Gospel introduces us to the perfect prayer.
Let us pray that all will accept the Holy Spirit from our heavenly Father. If you have not asked to receive him, I pray that you will take this time now and invite the Holy Spirit to take up residence in your heart. This is the essence of our “perfect prayer.” The result of this will be a hunger to know his will for your life by getting to know what he says in his Word.