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)
FIRST DAY Reread last week’s readings.
1. What was a helpful or new thought from the readings or from the homily you heard on Sunday?
2. From what you learned, what personal application did you choose to apply to your life this week?
SECOND DAY READ WISDOM 9:13-18 FIRST READING
(“Or whoever knew your counsel, except you had given wisdom…”)
1. Fill in the following blanks:
For what man __________ ________ __________, or who can ____________ what our ________ _______? Wisdom 9:13
2. What are the deliberations of mortals, and of what are we unsure? Wisdom 9:14
3. What does the corruptible body do to the soul? Wisdom 9:15
4. What does the earthen shelter weigh down? Wisdom 9:15
5. What do we find with difficulty? Wisdom 9:16
6. What does Wisdom 9:16 say about things that are in heaven?
7. You had to be given ________ in order to know his counsel. Wisdom 9:17
8. What was sent from on high? Wisdom 9:17
9. By sending your Holy Spirit from on high, what would happen to the paths of those on earth? Wisdom 9:18
10. What did men learn and by what were they saved? Wisdom 9:18
11. What happens to the man who walks in wisdom? Proverbs 28:26
Personal – In what way have you been following God’s wisdom and counsel in your everyday affairs, or have you not thought to seek it?
THIRD DAY READ PHILEMON 9-10, 12-17 SECOND READING
(“I prefer to appeal in the name of love.”)
1. In the name of what does Paul prefer to appeal? Philemon 9
2. As what does Paul refer to himself? Philemon 9
3. For whom is Paul appealing to Philemon? Philemon 10-11.
4. Where was Paul when he had begotten him? Philemon 10
5. In sending Onesimus to Philemon what did that mean that Paul was really sending? Philemon 12
6. What reason did Paul want to keep Onesimus with him? Philemon 13
7. For what reason was Paul in prison? Philemon 13
8. How might kindness be bestowed? Philemon 14
9. Onesimus was separated from Philemon for what reason? Philemon 15-16
10. By regarding Paul as his partner how would Philemon welcome Onesimus? Philemon 17
Personal – In what way have you defended a brother or sister in the Lord this week? In what way can you make an appeal for the unborn who is about to die at the hands of an abortionist?
FOURTH DAY READ LUKE 14:25-33 GOSPEL
(“Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”)
1. To whom was Jesus speaking on one occasion? Luke 14:25
2. What must a person do to become Jesus’ follower? Luke 14:26
3. What two things must we do to become Jesus’ follower? Luke 9:23 and 14:27
4. How often must we take up our cross? Luke 9:23
5. How do we discover who we really are? Matthew 10:37-39
6. What would a person do if he decides to build a tower, and for what reason? Luke 14:28-29
7. What would people say if he could not finish the tower? Luke 14:30
8. What will a king who is about to do battle sit down and do first? Luke 14:31
9. If he cannot withstand the enemy while he is at a distance, what will he do? Luke 14:32
10. In the same way, if we want to be Jesus’ disciple, what must we do? Luke 14:33
Personal – What are you still possessing that is holding you back from completely dying to self in order to peacefully and joyfully follow Jesus? How can you give up all of your possessions?
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 90:3-6, 12-17
(“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 90:3-6, 12-17.
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
The book of Wisdom is addressed to Jews around 50 B.C. These people were so impressed by Hellenistic learning and civilization that their faith was in danger. The author combats their materialism, Hedonism, and idolatry by taking full aim at the renegade Jews. Wisdom is a gift of God; genuine wisdom means belief in the one God of Israel and fidelity to his Law.
Wisdom delivers the believer from all evil. This is illustrated by a review of the saving deeds of God for the patriarchs and for the Israelites in Egypt, the very country where Jews were beginning to abandon their faith. We are told that man’s counsel can never conceive the Lord’s counsel. We see in these passages’ thanksgiving for the excellence of wisdom. We experience folly when we trust in ourselves and our peers (Ps. 49:13).
Our plans can only be stable and successful when our source is the scriptures. We become eligible for salvation only through faith in Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:15). Our corruptible body is called an earthen tent and that is what weighs down our minds. This idea of a body as a tent is found in Pythagoreanism and Platonism. In other words, it is a conception of stoicism. The Greeks look at wisdom as knowledge of natural science; the Hebrews looked at wisdom as the chief servant of the Creator. We have in the final verses the realization that only the wisdom of God can really grasp all that happens and is about to happen to the earth and all of its creatures (Ps. 104:24).
The Lord, through his grace, has given us the gift of faith which is born of a “Fear of the Lord.” Wisdom is this fear of the Lord, and to those who have this wisdom, the Lord also gives knowledge and happiness (Ecc. 2:26). Let us look not to ourselves or to our peers for wisdom, rather let us yield to the healing power of Jesus Christ. Let us say, “Lord, come into my heart, renew my mind, and let me have a tongue that professes your glory.” Lord, I pray that you will give all of us wisdom, and I stand on your Word for this request.” (James 1:5).
PHILEMON 9-10, 12-17
Paul wrote this letter from Rome in about 60 A.D. when he was under house arrest (Acts 28:30, 31). Onesimus was a runaway slave of Philemon’s; he robbed his master and fled to Rome (verse 15). He then came under the influence of Paul and was converted into Christianity (verse 10). This letter to Philemon was a very exceptional one for Paul, for in it we see him asking a favor. He is asking a favor for Onesimus who had taken the wrong turn and whom Paul was helping to find the way back.
Paul could have demanded whatever he wished from Philemon, simply on his authority as an Apostle. His was a humble request and he realized that a gift must be given freely and with goodwill; if it is forced, it is not a gift at all. Paul based his request, not on his own authority, but on Philemon’s Christian commitment. We might ask ourselves the same question, “If when you know something is right and you have the power to demand it, do you appeal to your authority or the other person’s commitment?” Paul gives us a great example here of how to deal with a possible conflict between Christian friends.
Paul wrote this letter on behalf of Onesimus who feared for his life. A master had the legal right to kill a runaway slave, and Paul wanted to help him understand his new relationship with Onesimus. Paul calls Onesimus his child whom he has “begotten” in prison. To bring someone to Christ is like giving him a new birth, and that is exactly what Paul did to Onesimus.
Paul would like to have kept Onesimus with him, but he would do nothing without the consent of Philemon. Paul was sending him back, not as a slave, but as a brother and partner in Christ. Paul tells Philemon that if he agreed that Paul is his partner in the work of Christ, he must receive Onesimus as he would receive himself.
The tone of this letter reflects against what was a common occurrence, and that was human slavery. Paul does not come right out against the unjust law; but through the power of Christian love, he presents to Philemon the obviousness of its injustice. The fact that Onesimus, the runaway slave, was returned as a brother to Philemon was a powerful statement against slavery. We need to reflect that all are equal in God’s family, and how we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ’s family reflects our own true Christian commitment to Christ.
This passage is one of the strongest in the New Testament about the cost of discipleship. Jesus told them that nothing or no one can come between the love of a disciple and his master. To make this point even more pronounced, he then tells them that they have to carry their own cross every day and follow him. The people were very much aware of what that meant. They knew from the criminals who went to be crucified in their hometown that to carry one’s cross in public was an act of submission to Rome. This warned others that they had better submit and turn away from their rebellious actions.
Jesus gave this message to the crowd so that they might reflect on what it really costs to follow him. You and I need to reflect on this message also. There is no room for a disciple who looks for “cheap grace” in the Kingdom of God. “Cheap grace” is what we sometimes think our devotions and sacraments bring. They are not magical toys that prevent us from suffering and yet deliver us into glory. Following Christ calls for total submission to him. This means letting everything go and putting him first. It could mean great financial, social, and even physical loss, even death itself. We are called to carry our cross every day, not just once in a while. We must count the cost of becoming a disciple so that we know what we are getting into and are not tempted to turn back.
As Christians, we are called to be “the salt of the earth.” We will be of no value if our flavor is lost or dried out. We must not just blend into the world and avoid the cost of standing for Christ. We are faced today, in our society, with the direct challenge of driving out the scourge of abortion. If we fail to do this, then our flavor of being the salt of the earth becomes worthless. Just as salt flavors and preserves foods, we are to preserve the good in the world. This calls from us a willingness to sacrifice everything for Christ. If we take up our cross and follow him daily, all that will change in our lives is everything.
The first reading tells us that wisdom is the “fear of the Lord.” The second reading shows that a gift must be given freely and joyfully. The Gospel reveals that there is no “cheap grace” in the kingdom of God.
This week let us be the salt of the earth to our families by taking up our cross and dying to ourselves by serving them and not judging them, even if we are rejected by them. To serve them as a Christian means to bring out the best in them, like salt brings out the flavor. Let them see that you care enough to give them your personal attention as well as your affirmation. We cannot expect to be the salt of the earth until we have become the salt for our families.