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 EXODUS 32:7-11, 13-14 FIRST READING
(“They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them.”)
1. Why did God tell Moses to go down to his people? Exodus 32:7
2. From what had they turned away? Exodus 32:8
3. What was the way God pointed out to them? Exodus 20:1-17.
4. What did they do with what they had made and what did they cry out? Exodus 32:8
5. How did the Lord see the people? Exodus 32:9
6. What did the Lord say to Moses about his wrath? Exodus 32:10
7. What did the Lord say he would do for Moses? Exodus 32:10
8. What was the question Moses asked the Lord? Exodus 32:11
9. Who did Moses ask the Lord to remember and what did the Lord say he had promised for their descendants? Exodus 32:13
10. What did the Lord relent in doing? Exodus 32:14
Personal – How do you, like Moses, stand in the gap and plead for God’s mercy, rather than his wrath, for your country, community, parish, family, and finally for yourself? What promises that God has made to us from his Word, can you use for your defense?
THIRD DAY READ 1 TIMOTHY 1:12-17 SECOND READING
(“The grace of the Lord has been granted me in overflowing measure.”)
1. In 1 Timothy 1:12 who has been strengthened by Christ and been made his servant? 1 Timothy 1:1
2. How has he been judged? 1 Timothy 1:12
3. Who keeps faith with us and strengthens us and guards us against the evil one? 2 Thessalonians 3:3
4. What three things was Paul at one time? 1 Timothy 1:13
5. For what reason was he treated mercifully? 1 Timothy 1:13
6. What has the Lord granted Paul in overflowing measure plus two other things which are in Christ Jesus? 1 Timothy 1:14
7. What can you depend on as worthy of full measure? 1 Timothy 1:15
8. What kind of a sinner does Paul see himself? 1 Timothy 1:15
9. Are we any different than Paul? Romans 3:23
10. How was Paul dealt with, what did Jesus display and for what reason? 1 Timothy 1:16
11. What is Paul’s response to what God has done for him? 1 Timothy 1:17
Personal – In what way have you seen yourself as a sinner saved by the grace of God? What has your response been to this?
FOURTH DAY READ LUKE 15:1-32 GOSPEL
(“Father, I have sinned against God and against you.”)
1. As the tax collectors and sinners were gathering around to hear Jesus, about what were the Pharisees and Scribes murmuring? Luke 15:1-2
2. In the parable, Jesus addressed to them, to what was he referring as being lost? Luke 15:3-4
3. What does the owner of the sheep do when he sees one is lost, and what is his response when he finds it? Luke 15:5-6
4. In verse 7 of Luke 15, Jesus goes from speaking of sheep (an animal to speaking about people. What does he say about people?
5. Jesus goes on to speak another parable and this time it is not an animal but an object. What is it and what does the woman do when she loses one? Luke 15:8
6. When she finds it, what is her reaction? Luke 15:9
7. What is the reason for the joy of the angels of God? Luke 15:10
8. Jesus now tells the story of the man and his two sons. What did the younger son say to his father, and what did the father do? Luke 15:12
9. When the son collected his inheritance, where did he go and what did he do? Luke 15:13
10. When the famine broke out and the son found himself in dire need, what did he do? Luke 15:14-16
11. When he finally came to his senses, what did he say and do? Luke 15:17-19
12. In verse 18 of Luke 15, who does the lost son say he had sinned against?
Personal – When you come into repentance over something you know you did wrong, are you sorry because you got yourself into a mess or are you sorry because you offended God and others? What do you see as the difference between worldly repentance and Godly repentance?
13. When the son set off for the father’s house, what happened when he was still a distance away? Luke 15:20
14. What did the son say to the father and what did the father tell the servants to do? Luke 15:21-24
15. Meanwhile what happened with the elder son, and what was his reaction? Luke 15:25-30
16. What was the father’s reply to the older son? Luke 15:31-32
Personal – In what way, this past week, have you been angry or jealous over what has happened to someone in your family, a friend, a church member or a work acquaintance? Come into Godly repentance.
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19
(“My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19.
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
EXODUS 32:7-11, 13-14
This passage clearly defines the consequences of what happens when idols become the god of our lives. The people were beginning to panic and become very unruly. Moses had been up on the mountain for a long time (over 40 days) and the fire, smoke, and thunder continued to terrify them. They wanted to see a familiar God and wanted to shape him into an image that they could understand and worship. They wanted a god made into their image and a god that was convenient to either obey or ignore.
Today our temptation is still to shape God to our liking or to make him in our image. We need only to look around and see some of the golden calves that we have made into gods. The cow or calf was one of the most popular idols in the pagan world at that time. They were a symbol of power and fertility and were, therefore, connected with immoral sexual practices.
The Lord saw how stubborn and rebellious these people were and he responded in great anger as he does even today when his mercy is trampled on. The people in today’s passage were blind to the love that God wanted to shower upon them. Their blindness came from their idols and useless worship. We need to reflect on our rebelliousness and stubbornness. Some of the golden calves in our lives are power, sex, money, pleasure, education, youth, health, big homes, fancy cars, athletic ability, marriage, family, etc.
We need to ask ourselves if any of these things come before our total commitment to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Moses begged God not to destroy those foolish people, and then he called on God to remember his promise to the servants of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. God had promised that these descendants would inherit the kingdom forever, so the Lord heard this plea and changed his mind and spared them. You and I have to get down on our knees and pray the same prayer that Moses prayed. There are so many people today worshipping false idols and many times they are right in our own families. We have a loving, merciful and just God, and he will hear our prayer of intercession. We need to put down our false gods and become repentant and change the way we live. Our God is the One True God, and his name is Jesus Christ.
1 TIMOTHY 1:12-17
Praise God, praise God, for being so merciful. Paul probably said this kind of prayer day and night. He is telling Timothy that God’s mercy is so powerful that no one has to feel unworthy or abandoned. Paul tells about how he was a blasphemer of the Lord and how he hunted down people who believed in Jesus. Paul was an educated man with a zealous vengeance that produced terror in the hearts of Christians. He not only hunted Christians, but he had them arrested and murdered before he, himself, came to Christ in faith (Acts 9:1-9).
Paul tells us about a God that not only loves and forgives, but he forgets our wrongful past. Some people feel so guilt-ridden by their past that they think God could never forgive and accept them. That is what we call today “stinkin’ thinkin’,” We are called to renew our minds (Romans 12:2), to put on the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5), and fill our minds with thoughts that are pure and honorable (Philippians 4:8).
The call to renewal has to begin with the call to repentance, and repentance begins with the confession of our sins. Even Paul admitted he talked violently against Jesus through unbelief and arrogance and was a persecutor of innocent people. God forgave Paul, and he can forgive you and wants to forgive you. Take this time now to reflect on what is going on in your life. Ask, “Do I blaspheme God with my tongue?” “Do I attack others with my criticalness?”
We as Catholic Christians have a tremendous opportunity to be reconciled with the Lord through the sacrament of Reconciliation (being brought back to a loving relationship with God). Forgiveness is a decision and God wants to forgive us more than we want to be forgiven. God wants to love us more than we want to be loved. His love for us is unconditional – no strings attached. Paul wants Timothy to spread the news that God took a sinner like Saul and made him into a loving servant called Paul. We need to let the healing power of God’s love and forgiveness soak into us and repent because the Kingdom of God is at hand (Mark 1:15).
In this passage, Jesus defends why he associated with the unwashed, the unclean, and the unsaved people by sharing with them a story about sheep, coins and a human being. Jesus knew that the Pharisees were always very careful to stay clean and safe according to the Old Testament law. They avoided unsafe people and unsafe conditions to make sure they did not violate any legal restrictions.
Jesus was a complete contrast to them, in that he risked defilement by touching lepers, eating with tax collectors, being seen in the company of public sinners (like Mary Magdalene). Jesus came to love the sinner and hate the sin. He came to show that God loves them no matter what they have done or where they have been. He continued going to those who needed him, regardless of what that might do to his reputation. Jesus’ love for the individual is so great that he seeks out each one and rejoices when he or she is “found.”
Jesus connects sinners being lost to sheep that are lost, as both depend very heavily on the shepherd. The shepherd will go through the most dangerous situations to save one lost sheep. They would fight off robbers, wolves, and thunderstorms. Dangerous rocky cliffs were places where a valiant shepherd would find a lost sheep and be returned safely to the flock. Sinners who were beyond hope were found and saved through the good news of God’s Kingdom. Our God is like the shepherd. He searches for lost people and then he saves them.
Jesus then shows us the incredible power of God’s love for the lost in the story of the prodigal son. You first need to understand that the oldest son receives more than one-half of the father’s estate. The rest was divided up equally by the remaining sons. This young man received one-third of the estate when he demanded his share. The remaining two-thirds of the estate went to his older brother. In most cases, this would have been done after the father’s death, but this showed the contempt he had for his father’s authority as head of the family. His son took the money and left for a distant land and he squandered it on parties and prostitutes. After a while, his money was gone and to survive he got a job feeding the pigs at a local farm.
For a Jew to stoop to feeding pigs was a great humiliation. According to the law of Moses, the pigs were unclean animals (Deut. 14:8). The son had hit bottom and finally, he came to his senses. The key to this passage is his saying “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you; and I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” He confessed his sin and in a spirit of true Godly sorrow and repentance, he went home to be accountable to his father. His father ran out to meet him and instantly restored him to his former position of honor.
We need to reflect on this message. It may take a great tragedy to cause us to look up to the only one who can help. Are you trying to live your life this way? Don’t take foolish chances, stop and look before you hit bottom, and save yourself and your family much grief. God, like the father in this story, waits patiently and lovingly until we come to our senses.
The first reading tells us of the consequences that happen when idols become the God of our lives. The second reading shows that the call to renewal has to begin with the call to repentance. The Gospel reveals that God waits, patiently and lovingly, until we come to our senses.
In the spirit of mercy, select someone in your family, or among your friends, and make a decision to forgive all the wrongs of this particular person; and for one whole week, affirm what he/she does right. You will be astonished at the result.