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.
- 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 ISAIAH 45:1, 4-6 FIRST READING
(“I have called you by your name.”)
- What does the Lord say to Cyrus, and what does he grasp? Isaiah 45:1
- What does the Lord say he has done for Cyrus, and what has Cyrus done for the Lord? Isaiah 45:1, Isaiah 44:28
Personal – What have you done for the Lord, and what has he done for you?
- Who are God’s chosen ones, and how have they been called? Isaiah 45:4
- What does God give Cyrus even though Cyrus did not know him? Isaiah 45:4
- What are we not to do and for what reason? Isaiah 43:1
- Where is our name written? Isaiah 49:16
- Who does the Lord say there is none other besides him? Isaiah 45:5
- Even though we do not know him, what does he do for us? Isaiah 45:5
- Why does the Lord arm those who do not know him? Isaiah 45:6,14
- What does the Lord use to bring his message to Balaam? Numbers 22:28-35
Personal – What and how have you been anointed? What is the message you are to bring to your family, friends, schoolmates, and work acquaintances?
THIRD DAY READ 1 THESSALONIANS 1:1-5 SECOND READING
(“For our Gospel did not come to you in word alone,”)
- With what and in whose names are Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy greeting the Church of Thessalonica? 1 Thessalonians 1:1
- How do we receive grace? John 1:16-17
- What did Jesus tell his disciples he would be leaving them? John 14:27
- How is Paul remembering the Church of the Thessalonians, and how often does he give thanks for them? 1 Thessalonians 1:2
Personal – This past week, how often did you thank God and pray for the specific church in your area, your parish, and your diocese?
- What work of ______________, labor of _________________, and endurance in ______________ were they calling to mind, and before whom is it done? 1 Thessalonians 1:3
- How does God feel about the Church of Thessalonica, and what has he done for them? 1 Thessalonians 1:4
- What four ways did the Gospel come to them? 1 Thess. 1:5
- The Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who does what? Romans 1:16
- What was further proof to the Church of Thessalonica of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy’s message? 1 Thessalonians 1:6
- What did Christ Jesus display in Paul, and for what reason? 1 Timothy 1:16
Personal – In what way have you spread the Gospel message in word, power, the Holy Spirit, and with conviction to those around you? Be specific, and share with someone.
FOURTH DAY READ MATTHEW 22:15-21 GOSPEL
(“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God, what belongs to God.”)
- What did the Pharisees go off and plot? Matthew 22:15
- Who was a Pharisee, and how is he described? Acts 5:34
- Whom did the Pharisees send to Jesus with the Herodians? How did they address him, what did they call him, and how did they say he taught? Matthew 22:16
- What does Jesus say about himself? John 14:6
- With what is Jesus not concerned, and what does he not regard? Matthew 22:16
- What does God not have and accept? Deuteronomy 10:17
- What was Jesus’ answer to the question, “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? Matthew 22:17-19
- What did Jesus call the Pharisee’s that were questioning him? Matthew 22:18
- When we walk in the truth, with whom do we not stay? With whom do we not consort? Psalm 26:3-4
Personal – How do you know who the hypocrites are in your life? Read 1 Timothy 4:1-3 and see one of the traits of a hypocrite in Verse 2.
- What did Jesus say to them, and what did they reply? Matthew 22:20-21
- What did Jesus say to repay to Caesar, and what did he say to repay to God? Matthew 22:21
Personal – How have you been able to discern what you are to give to Caesar (your government)? What are you to give to God?
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 96:1, 3-5, 7-10
(“Tell his glory among the nations,”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 96: 1, 3-5, 7-10.
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
ISAIAH 45: 1, 4-6
This is the only place in the bible where a pagan ruler is called “anointed.” God is the power over all powers, and he anoints whom he chooses for his special assignments. Cyrus’ kingdom was the largest of the then-known world. God chose Cyrus to be the instrument in his plan. Cyrus would allow God’s city of Jerusalem to be rebuilt, and he would set the exiles free without expecting anything in return. There were very few kings of Israel or Judah that had done as much for God’s people as Cyrus.
This is a tremendous show of God’s sovereignty over all people. He had chosen this pagan king to be instrumental in restoring God’s chosen people to their homeland. Cyrus was a disciple of the pagan god called Bel-Marduk. This religion was very active in prostitution and child sacrifice. Its adherents worshiped in Babylon, and the god’s name stood for weather, war, and sun god.
The title “anointed one” was used for priests, prophets, and kings in the Old Testament. Every Christian is anointed priest, prophet, and king through the sacrament of Baptism. We need to ask ourselves what we have done with our gift of anointing. Do other people see us as one who sacrifices our wants to help others? Do we attend church regularly and receive the Holy Eucharist on a regular basis? Are we proclaiming God’s Holy Word like a prophet in our families, at school or work? Do we rule in our home, school, or job, like a king who is compassionate, just and very merciful?
We come back to the question of why would God anoint someone like Cyrus? He was a pagan, and the Lord not only anointed him, he also armed him. The Lord subdued nations before him. He opened many doors for Cyrus and, as a result, Cyrus became very popular. Through Cyrus, the Lord has shown that nothing is outside of the scope of his power.
The power of the Lord is not to be denied to anyone. Your name is engraved in the palm of his hand (Isaiah 49:15), and he will work through you if you will let him. Cyrus did not even know who God was. Balaam’s donkey knew who he was, and finally, even Balaam understood the message that “there is no one else beside me,” said the Lord (Numbers 22:28-35).
Do people see the power of God working in you? Do you see the power of God working in your life? Stop now and ask him to allow you to experience his love and gentleness. God is our fortress, refuge, and rock (Psalm 91).
1 THESSALONIANS 1:1-5
Thessalonica was the place of the first Christian church in Greece founded by Paul in about 50 A.D. However, Paul had to leave in a great hurry because his life and the lives of his companions were threatened (Acts 17:1-10). Paul made a brief visit there later, and the new believers were growing fast and firm in their new faith. Paul wrote this letter to answer some of their questions, and he commended them on their faithfulness to the Good News. Timothy and Silvanus were of great help to Paul in getting the new church on its feet.
Thessalonica was the capitol of Macedonia and was one of the wealthiest cities in the region. The city was allowed self-rule and with that came many pagan religions and cultural influences that seriously challenged the faith of the young Christians there. Persecution only made the believers stand even more committed to their faith.
The power of the Holy Spirit changes people when they believe in God’s Holy Word. When we tell others about Jesus, we must depend on the Holy Spirit to open their eyes and convince them that they need salvation. This is what happened in Thessalonica. We must remember, his power changes people, not our cleverness or persuasion. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, our words are meaningless.
The Good News produced a powerful effect upon the Thessalonians. Whenever and wherever the Word of God is heard and obeyed, lives are changed. We must always remember that Christianity is more than just a collection of interesting facts; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Paul told them our very lives were further proof (Vs. 5). They could see that what Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus were preaching was true, because they lived it. Does your life confirm or contradict what you say you believe?
The Pharisees were a religious sect of Jews who aimed to keep the Mosaic law in all of its strict interpretations. They had many followers among the elite, and they kept strictly aloof from the ordinary people. They were opposed to Christ from the beginning of his public preaching because he came to “call sinners” and he associated freely with them.
Jesus calls the Pharisees hypocrites because, while they pretended outwardly to be strictly religious, they were lacking true religion in their hearts, love of God and neighbor, and humility. Jesus clearly tells them and us with his answer to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s,” that the government has a right to expect obedience and cooperation in all things that tend to the material welfare of the state, provided the spiritual welfare of the members is not impeded by the government. This is where the hypocrisy that Jesus speaks about is so common. Many people try to figure out ways to cheat the government out of the tax money that is due. People will justify their actions by making all kinds of excuses about why the government does not need the money.
Jesus tells us that we have to be truthful in all matters of our lives. We are called to be truthful in our relationships with our families, in our jobs and with our government. Cheating on income tax is a very common form of acceptable hypocrisy. Jesus also tells the Pharisees that putting the law above the common good of the people is also hypocritical. Jesus knew very well that they were trying to trap him, but he still did not shy away from his conviction of being truthful. A hypocrite is a person who is deceitful and who depends on lying. He appears to be a so-called “good person,” but is loaded with sinful intentions. Jesus really spoke out strongly against hypocrites.
You and I have to choose between God’s laws or man’s laws (Acts 5:29). We need to show that the way we live is the way we believe. Our example of loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves will be the strength of all nations.
This week’s first reading shows that God will use anyone to fulfill his plan for his people. The second reading shows that a strong faith is needed to endure persecution and death. The Gospel reveals that Jesus came for the sick, lonely, and oppressed, and he deflated the hypocrites with their trickery.
This week get involved with a project, such as the pro-life cause, that affects your community. Invite someone from your school or work to go with you. Share your feelings with someone close to you about your discoveries working on that project.