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 SIRACH 35:12-14, 16-18 FIRST READING
(“He who serves God willingly is heard.”)
1. Of what is our God a God, and of what does he not know? Sirach 35:12.
2. What does he not accept? Deuteronomy 10:17, 2 Chronicles 19:7
3. Why does God have no favorites? Job 34:19.
Personal – How do you treat those in your family, at church, or at work without showing favoritism? Why do you think you should do this?
4. Whose cry does God hear? Sirach 35:13
5. Toward what two people is God not deaf? Sirach 35:14
6. Whose cry does the Lord hear and who should we not wrong? Exodus 22:21-22.
7. Whom does the Lord hear and what reaches the heavens? Sirach 35:16
8. What does the prayer of the lowly pierce and what does it not do till it reaches its goal? Sirach 35:17
9. What does the prayer of the lowly not do till the Most High responds? Sirach 35:18
10. What does the Most High judge do and who does he affirm? Sirach 35:18
Personal – In what way has God answered your prayer with justice, and in what way were you affirmed by it?
THIRD DAY READ 2 TIMOTHY 4:6-8, 16-18 SECOND READING
(“The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength.”)
1. Who is speaking, and to whom is he speaking in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18? 2 Timothy 1:1-2?
2. What did he say was happening to him and was near him? 2 Timothy 4:6
3. What has he fought, what has he finished, and what has he kept? 2 Timothy 4:7
4. To what is Paul to bear witness? Acts 20:24
5. From now on what awaits Paul, how does he refer to the Lord, and what will happen to him and all who have looked for the Lord’s appearing with eager longing? 2 Timothy 4:8
6. What happened to Paul at his first hearing of his case in court and what did he not do? 2 Timothy 4:16
7. Who stood by his side and what did he give him? 2 Timothy 4:17
8. What are we not to do and for what reason? Matthew 10:19-20.
9. How was Paul saved from the lion’s jaws? 2 Timothy 4:17
10. What will the Lord continue to do and where will he bring him? 2 Timothy 4:18
11. Who is to get all the glory? 2 Timothy 4:18, Romans 16:27
Personal – What is your reaction when friends or family abandon you when you stand up for your faith? Where do you look for your strength in a crisis? Hebrews 13:6.
FOURTH DAY READ LUKE 18:9-14 GOSPEL
(“O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”)
1. To whom did the Lord address this parable? Luke 18:9
2. What do the self-righteous do and what does God know? Luke 16:15
3. What two men went up to the temple to pray and how was the Pharisee’s head when he prayed? Luke 18:10-11
4. For what did the Pharisee say he was thankful, who did he say he was not like, and what did he say he did? Luke 18:11-12
5. What three things are important in the eyes of the Lord without neglecting the other? Matthew 23:23
6. What did the tax collector do, and what did he say to the Lord? Luke 18:13
7. What did Jesus say about the self-righteous and the sinner? Matthew 9:13
8. How did the tax collector go home and how did the Pharisee go home? Luke 18:14
9. How do we become justified? Romans 5:8-11
10. What will happen to everyone who exalts himself and what will happen to everyone who humbles himself? Luke 18:14
11. Who is the greatest among you? Matthew 23:11-12
Personal – In what way do you approach the Lord? Examine your prayer life. What do you say to the Lord? In what way do you compare yourself with others? How do you really see yourself? Remember, God reads the heart. (Luke 16:15)
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 34:2-3, 17-19, 23
(“When the just cry out, the Lord hears them.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 34:2-3, 17-19, 23.
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
SIRACH 35:12-14, 16-18
This passage stresses that our God does not have favorites. His love for the rich is the same as it is for the poor. It is the same for the young and old, the healthy ones or the sickly ones. His love falls equally on the righteous and the unrighteous. Our God will not, under any circumstances, take a bribe (Deuteronomy 10:17). A just God is one who loves us because of who we are, not because of what we do. He loves the weak, yet he hears the cry of the oppressed. He always responds to our call for support.
Our calls of help do not fall on deaf ears (John 6:37). We are to be persistent, like the widow, in our prayers to our loving God. The petitions of all who call out to God are heard. He knows each one of us by name and knew us when we were formed in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139). We are to respond to his answer with a contrite heart and humble spirit (Psalm 51). Many times, we are tempted to give up and forget our petitions and become angry. We must remember that we have a God whose ways are not our ways.
Our God is a just God and he will answer us in his time and we must not become anxious (Philippians 4:6,7), rather we must become joyful and give him thanks and praise. A just God loves to bring freedom, and his justice brings love and peace. We need to reflect on this Scripture and remember that the God of Justice is the God of Love and the God of Love is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
2 TIMOTHY 4:6-8, 16-18
Paul is exhorting Timothy to keep his faith active and to be ready to take over as a leader rather than as an assistant. Paul tells Timothy that his time is running out and it won’t be long before he, Paul, is in heaven. Paul was going to face death just like he was facing living in this world and that was with courage in the Lord. We need to ask ourselves some of these questions that Paul probably did. Is your life preparing you for death? Do you have a deep expectation of meeting Christ when you die?
We can all breathe a little easier because the “good news” is that salvation is not just for spiritual giants like “Paul,” “Moses,” or even Timothy. Rather it is for those who confess with their lips and believe in their heart that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:10). Paul gave us these words to encourage us to go on, to keep up the good fight. He wanted us to train and become even better. No matter what the difficulty, we must always remember that the Spirit within us is greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4), and we must keep fighting and continue in the race.
We will realize completely, when we are finally at home in heaven with our wonderful Lord Jesus, that the fight and the race were well worth it. Timothy probably did not feel all that strong, with his leader in prison and his church still reeling from exhaustion and expansion. We need to trust in Jesus, as Paul did, and our Lord will use our repentant hearts in a powerful way. We need to remember that God always gives us the strength to do whatever he has commanded, and he has commanded us to go forth and preach his Word. He has called us and commissioned us to evangelize the world (Matthew 28:19).
This passage deals with the quality of our prayer life and not the quantity of it. When we come to pray before God, the question is not, “Am I as good as my fellow-men?” The question is, “Am I as good as God?” True prayer can only come from setting our lives beside the life of God. We may do well to remember that we are one of a great legion of sinning, suffering, sorrowing humanity, that comes occasionally to kneel before the throne of God’s mercy. Before we can say, “I am glad I am not like that pompous Pharisee,” let us all remember that no man who is proud can pray. It is told that the gate of heaven is so low that no one can enter it unless one is on one’s knees.
In today’s Gospel we see the men in the temple praying. The devout religious people were always in the temple about 9:00 a.m., noon, and 3:00 p.m. These were the times when most of the community went up to the temple. The story deals with only two of them, one a highly respected church-goer called a Pharisee; the other man was called a tax collector, someone of poor social standing. The tax collector was a symbol of dishonesty, lying, and cheating. The Pharisee began telling God how much he was doing for him. The Pharisee did not really go to pray; he went to inform God how good he was. The tax collector, on the other hand, stood in back of the temple and wouldn’t even lift his eyes up to God because he knew that he was a sinner. His prayer was very simple and very direct: “O God be merciful to me, the sinner.”
Let us not pray like the Pharisee, because self-righteousness is dangerous. Pride leads to sin, and the wages of sin are death (Romans 6:23). The tax collector’s prayer should be our prayer, because Jesus hears our cry of unworthiness and repentance (Psalm 51:10). Let us call out to him to cleanse our heart and to give us a repentant spirit, and he will do that. Prayer is two persons – God and man – telling each other how much they love each other. God loves you and wants you to be a prayerful person.
The first reading tells us that God does not have any favorites. The second reading reveals that we should update our spiritual inventory on a regular basis. The Gospel shows that the quality of a prayer life is far more important than its quantity.
Let us spend some quiet time alone with the Lord every day this week and listen very carefully to his plan for our life (John 10:10). God wants each one of us to have an abundant grace-filled life. He wants us to call out to him in deep sincerity, and he will heal us. Let your family see you as one in prayerful communion with God.