31ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Nov 3rd) – CYCLE C

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 WISDOM 11:22-12:1       FIRST READING

(“For you love all things that are.”)

What two things is the whole universe like? Wisdom 11:22

 

What does God have on all and what can he do? Wisdom 11:23

 

What does God overlook and for what reason? Wisdom 11:23

 

Of what is God not unaware and for what does he give man space? Wisdom 12:10

 

What does God call men everywhere to do? Acts 17:30

 

What does God do to all things that are, what does he loathe, and for what reason? Wisdom 11:24

 

What is the Lord to all people and toward all his works? Psalm 145:9

 

Unless God does what, how can anything remain or be preserved? Wisdom 11:25

 

What does God do to all things, for what reason and of what is he a lover? Wisdom 11:26

 

What is in all things? Wisdom 12:1

 

What does the Spirit of the Lord ll and what does he know? Wisdom 1:7

 

Personal – How have I accepted God’s love for me? In what way have I overlooked the sins of a family member, friend, or co-worker and given them an opportunity to repent and thus show my love for them?

 

 

THIRD DAY      READ 2 THESSALONIANS 1:11-2:2       SECOND READING

(“We pray for you always.”)

Who is speaking and to whom is he speaking in 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2? 2 Thessalonians 1:1

 

What do they do always for the church and for what reason? 2 Thessalonians 1:11

 

How does God fulfill every honest intention and work of faith? 2 Thessalonians 1:11

 

Who begets (brings forth) in you any measure of desire or achievement? Philippians 2:1

 

Who may be glorified in you and you in him and how is this done? 2 Thessalonians 1:12

 

On the question of whose coming, and of who is being gathered with him, how is Paul addressing the brothers? 2 Thessalonians 2:1

 

What two things is he begging them not to let happen so easily? 2 Thessalonians 2:2

 

What three ways is he saying not to be swayed into believing that the day of the Lord is here? 2 Thessalonians 2:2

 

How is the Lord going to come again and what will happen to those who have died in Christ? 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16

 

What will happen to those who are living, the survivors and what are we to do with this message? 1 Thessalonians 4:17

 

Personal – In what way have you been preparing for the Lord’s second coming?

 

 

FOURTH DAY       READ LUKE 19:1-10       GOSPEL

(“The Son of Man has come to search out and save what is lost”)

As Jesus entered Jericho who was there, what was his name, what position did he hold, and what economic status did he hold? Luke 19:1-2

 

Who came to be baptized by John the Baptist and what did he tell them? Luke 3:12-14

 

Which one of Jesus’ disciples was a tax collector? Matthew 9:9

 

What was Zacchaeus doing, why did he want to do this and what prevented him from doing this? Luke 19:3

 

What did he first do and when that did not work, what did he then do? Luke 19:4

 

What did Jesus do when he came to the spot where Zacchaeus was and what did he say to him? Luke 19:5

 

How did Zacchaeus descend and how did he welcome Jesus? Luke 19:6

 

When this was observed what did everyone begin to murmur? Luke 19:7

 

What did Zacchaeus do and what did he say to the Lord? Luke 19:8

 

What did Jesus say to him? Luke 19:9

 

Why did the Son of Man come? Luke 19:10

 

Personal – In what way have you repaid anyone you may have defrauded? In what way has Jesus come to search you out and save you personally? Share with someone in your family or with a friend.

 

 

FIFTH DAY       READ PSALM 145:1-2, 8-11, 13-14

(“The Lord is good to all.”)

Read and meditate on Psalm 145:1-2, 8-11, 13-14.

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

WISDOM 11:22-12:1

This passage forces us to reflect on how much we are loved and protected by God. We are being told that this awesome universe is like being compared to a small particle used for weighing on sensitive scales. In God there is so much more and yet our universe is as precious to him as early morning dew.We hear about a God who is so majestic that even though he can do all things, he loves being merciful.Wisdom is so precious because it helps us to understand God’s incredible love for us.

God doesn’t miss anything, he sees our failures and yet he constantly encourages us to go forward. He gives us so much room to repent and to enjoy his kingdom (Mark 1:15). It is so hard for man to understand God’s love, because God loves everything that he has created. God does not make junk, we are not junk, and God will never make junk. That is why he loves us always. God loves us so much he gave us his only Son, so that all who believe in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Do you really believe that he loved you so much he died knowing that you would be sinning (Romans 5:8)? He did.

Wisdom is fear of the Lord, not a fear of punishment but fear of offending his love and goodness, because true love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). God’s love for us is complete in Jesus. He gives us his command, love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12).Wisdom is knowing that the Spirit of the Lord is given for all men and that the Spirit will instruct us in everything (John 14:26).The Holy Spirit is all embracing and this means that the arms of Christ were stretched out wide on the cross of Calvary so that you and I can have the incredible privilege of choosing life or death.The wise person will choose life; the fool will choose death.

 

2 THESSALONIANS 1:11-2:2

Paul is now encouraging the people because they had been going through a time of turmoil and confusion about the “last days.”The thought of the world coming to an end and Jesus coming back led many to give up the responsibilities of daily life. Some of the people did not want to go back to work, some did not want to continue to meet their financial obligations. Paul is telling them in this passage that their life and the way that they live is a reflection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Paul also tells them that God calls us to live in honor and have faith in his promise. His promise is that all who believe in him will not perish but instead have eternal life with him.

Paul goes on to tell them that the day which the Lord is to come back is not yet known, but his Spirit will be within us until then (John 14:26). We hear today many new ways to “talk the talk” and “walk the walk.”We hear and see quite a bit of the “new age” theology which calls us to become gods unto ourselves. We really need to reflect on the seduction of the age that Paul spoke about in verse three.When the Church marries the age or times, the church quickly becomes a widow.

Paul is telling them, as he is telling us, that there is only one way to eternal life, and that is through Jesus; and that only God knows when the end days are near. Our faith depends only on the living presence of the power of God in our lives.We are to live our lives as if this is the day that Jesus comes to take us home to the Father.

 

LUKE 19:1-10

Once again we see Jesus being the classic minister. Jesus knew full well what the local townspeople thought about tax collectors and knew that his actions would provoke a tremendous amount of controversy.He wanted them to love the sinner and hate the sin, but not hate the sinner as well as the sin. He chose to show them that by having dinner with Zacchaeus he was open to healing a person’s heart no matter what his station in life.

Zacchaeus knew that the people thought that he was a crook as most tax collectors were in those days (Luke 5:27- 32). Zacchaeus was wealthy but not happy. He probably was very lonely because he had chosen a way that made him an outcast. He no doubt had heard of Jesus and his love for outcasts like tax collectors and sinners like himself, and wondered if he had any “good news” for him. Despised and hated by the local town people, Zacchaeus was reaching out for the love and acceptance of God. One has to remember that Zacchaeus was small in stature and he took a great risk to be seen alone in public. He could not see over the crowd so he finally found a tree that he could climb and see Jesus as he walked by.

Can you imagine the thrill that went through Zacchaeus when he heard Jesus’ invitation. He literally jumped out of the tree in joy and shock and proclaimed to the community that he was a changed man. He knew that Jesus was risking the rejection of the crowd by saying that he wanted to stay at the home of a known sinner. Jesus does that today with you and me. He tells us that he wants to stay in our house, which means in our hearts. Zacchaeus then made a decision; he decided to love, because he had experienced the incredible gift of God’s love. Because of this love he then decided to give half of his goods to the poor. In his restitution he went far beyond what the law required. Only if robbery was a pre-meditated violent act of destruction was a fourfold giving back necessary (Exodus 22:1).

Zacchaeus showed that he was a changed man by his actions not just his words. Zacchaeus was a man who had repented because of love not force.A man or woman who repents, changes completely.Repentance is not only saying “I am sorry.” Zacchaeus’ testimony would have been completely worthless if it was not backed up by deeds.We should re ect on today’s story and see where, in our lives, repentance is needed.

Like Zacchaeus, we need to have Jesus reside in our hearts in order to love and be loved (John 15:12).This passage ends with Jesus telling us that he came to search out and save the lost. Zacchaeus was a Jew, a child of Abraham, and the Lord came to him and brought him back into the kingdom.We have that same loving God who is always ready to come to our “house” and bring us home, too.

 

Application

The first reading tells us how much we are loved and protected by God in spite of our selfishness.The second reading shows that the way we live is a reflection of what we believe.The Gospel demonstrates through the story about Zacchaeus that actions speak louder than words. Repentance means change.
Pick one specific bad habit and in prayer and faith work on it for this week.Testimony of words without action is worthless, so share with someone special your progress.The way that you talk to your children tells that they are either special or a burden. Let your family know that you are submitting yourself to the Lord and are giving him permission to change you. It works. He changed Zacchaeus and he wants to change you.

30TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME(Oct 27th) – CYCLE C   

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).

 

LUKE 18:9-14

     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.

 

Application

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.

29TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Oct 20th)- CYCLE C 

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 17:8-13          FIRST READING

(“As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight.”)

1. What did Amalek do at Rephidim?  Exodus 17:8

 

2. Who was Joshua and what tribe was he from?  Numbers  13:8,16

 

3. What  did Moses tell Joshua to do the following day?  Exodus 17:9 

 

4. What did  Moses say he would be doing and what would he have  in his hand?  Exodus 17:9

 

5. What did  Joshua do and who climbed to the top of the hill with Moses?  Exodus 17:10

 

6. What happened when Moses had his hands raised up and what happened when he let his hands rest?   Exodus 17:11

 

7. When  Moses’ hands got tired, what two things did Hur and Aaron  do for him?  Exodus 17:12

 

8. How long did they do this?  Exodus 17:12

 

9. What happened  on another occasion when Moses extended his hands to the Lord?  Exodus 9:29

 

10. What did Joshua do with Amalek?  Exodus 17:13

 

Personal – In what way have you been fighting a spiritual battle and had a family member or a friend support you, or in what way have you supported or held their hands up to the Lord in their battle?  Where have your hands been lifted during physical, spiritual, or emotional battles?

 

 

THIRD DAY            READ 2 TIMOTHY 3:14-4:2       SECOND READING

(“I charge you to preach the Word.”)

1. Who is speaking and to whom is he speaking in 2 Timothy 3:14? Timothy 1:1-2

 

2. What two things have we done that for our part we must remain faithful?  2 Timothy 3:14

              

3. Who is our teacher?  Matthew 23:10

 

4. How does he teach us today?  John 14:26

 

5. What  did Timothy know since infancy and how was it passed on  to him?  2 Timothy 3:15, 2 Timothy 1:5

 

6. Of what is the sacred Scripture the source, and what does it  lead to through faith in Jesus Christ?  2 Timothy 3:15

 

7. What is all Scripture, and for what is it useful? 2 Timothy 3:16

 

8. What makes the man of God fully competent and equipped for   every good work?  2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

9. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is coming to  do what?  What does he charge us to do?  2 Timothy 4:1-2

 

10. With what are we to stay whether convenient or inconvenient,  what three things are we to do, and what are we to never lose?  2 Timothy 4:2

 

11. What are we to teach?  Matthew 28:20

 

Personal – What have you been teaching your children, grandchildren, friends, co-workers, etc?  Have you personally been called to teach?  What do you see as the difference between worldly teaching and spiritual teaching?  John 14:18-26

 

 

FOURTH DAY               READ LUKE 18:1-8                  GOSPEL

(“Will not God then do justice to his chosen who call out to him day and night?”)

1. Of what did Jesus tell his disciples the necessity, how did  he tell them, and what did he tell them not to lose? Luke 18:1

 

2. To what did his disciples, the women in their company, and  Mary (the mother of Jesus) devote themselves?  Acts 1:13-14

 

3. What did Jesus say about a judge?  Luke 18:2

 

4. Who came to the judge, and what did she say?  Luke 18:3

 

5. What was she doing to him, and why did he settle in her favor?  Luke 18:5, Luke 11:8

 

6. What did the Lord say in Luke 18:6-7?

 

8. What did  he say about justice and about delaying over them?  Luke 18:7

 

9. What did Jesus say God would do?  Luke 18:8

 

10. About what did Jesus ask his disciple when the Son of Man    comes?  Luke 18:8

 

11. When the Son of Man comes with what will he come, who will    accompany him, and how will he repay each man?  Matthew 16:27

 

Personal – How do you combat the evil that is around you?  How is God speaking to you personally in this passage regarding your own prayer life?

 

 

FIFTH DAY              READ PSALM 121:1-8                   

(“He is beside you at your right hand.”)

Read and meditate on Psalm 121:1-8  

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         

EXODUS 17:8-13

     This passage clearly shows how tenacity and steadfastness win the day for Israel.  The Amalekites were descendants of Amalek, a grandson of Esau.  They were a fierce nomadic nation or tribe who lived and controlled the caravan routes between Egypt and Arabia in the southeast desert region of the Dead Sea.  They conducted frequent raids on other settlements and many times they killed simply for pleasure.  No insult to an Israelite could be greater than calling him “a friend of Amalek.”  

The Amalekites saw Moses and his rag tag band of followers and thought this would be a chance for some fun and profit.  They did not know that these people were being led by God, and the wrath of God was about to be spent upon them.  Moses commissions Joshua to make the battle preparations and tells him that he, Aaron, and Hur will be positioned on top of a nearby hill.  Joshua was the great leader who brought God’s people into the promised land after Moses died.  He gained tremendous experience for future battles especially against the Canaanites.  

The incredible stamina and persistence displayed by Moses in keeping his hands raised, with the support of Aaron and Hur, resulted in turning the tide of the battle.  It is the courage and example of this one man that inspired a tired band of followers in the hot barren desert to turn certain defeat into a stunning upset of a victory.  We need to look at our spiritual leaders in our churches and help them by supporting them too.  We can be like Aaron and Hur and hold them up as they lead us in battle.  We can really be warriors of the Lord by taking on some of the responsibilities of the parish community.  

We can become strong, committed prayer warriors; and finally, we can offer some life-giving words of encouragement when the battle seems to rage in full fury.  Our spiritual leaders need us to be like Aaron and Hur and in faith we need to call forth the spiritual giants like Moses from among our midst.  The God of Moses is also our God, too.  Let us persevere in battle and, like Moses, we too shall be lifted up in victory.

 

2 TIMOTHY 3:14-4:2

     Timothy was faced with “watering” down his doctrine of faith.  False teachers were trying to put pressure on him and the pressures of a growing ministry were heavy upon his spirit.  Timothy’s hometown of Lystra was where Paul was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19).  Timothy was undergoing pressure, not only for being young and inexperienced, but also because Paul was his principal teacher.

     Paul exhorts him to hold on, look to his past and hold to the basic teaching about Jesus that are eternally true.  Today we are caught up with many false teachers who are trying to “waterdown” the Gospel and many of us are so busy, we don’t even protest.  We need to spend time every day thinking about the foundations of our faith and the great truths on which we build our lives.

     Timothy was a second generation Christian and it was not because an evangelist preached a great sermon; it was because he was taught the holy scriptures when he was a child.  The parents’ work to teach the child should never be replaced by an evangelist or religious teacher.  The teaching of the child by the parent is a sacred duty and we, as parents, should look to the church to help us fulfill this tremendous privilege.  

We need to realize the Bible is not a collection of stories, fables, or myths or merely human ideas about God.  It is not just a human book.  God revealed his plan to godly men through the power of the Holy Spirit–men who then wrote down his message for his people ( 2 Peter 1:20,21).  We believe that even though they used their own minds, talents, language, and style, they wrote what God inspired them to write.  

Scripture is God’s inspired Word, and we should read it and apply it to our lives.  We can clearly see God speaking to us through his church which speaks in accordance with his holy Scripture.  Jesus told us when he was tempted in the desert that he began his defense with “Scripture.”  God’s Word will set us free today as it did yesterday and will forever and ever.

 

LUKE 18:1-8

     Jesus began this passage by telling his disciples a story to bring home the power of persevering in their prayer life.  He really wanted them to realize that all prayer is answered and they must not get discouraged and quit.  The judge in this story was not a Jewish judge.  Most ordinary Jewish problems were taken before the elders, not into public courts unless a special situation arose.  A Jewish court had three judges, one for the defendant, one for the court, and one that was neutral.  The judge in this story was probably appointed by Herod or the Romans, and they were well known as the “Robber Judges.”  He kept this woman coming back so many times because he expected her to pay a bribe.  A widow symbolized the poor and defenseless, and the only weapon she had was persistence. In the end, fearing his loss of reputation, the judge was worn down; and the persistent widow won her case.  

     To be persistent in prayer does not mean endless repetition of long prayer sessions.  Constant prayer means keeping our requests before him as we live for him day by day, always believing he will answer us.  God may delay, but he always has a reason for his delay; and we must not confuse delay with neglect.  As we, like the widow, persist in our prayer we grow in faith and hope.  Our character and our faith are direct indication of the intensity of our prayer life.  

We need to reflect on today’s story and realize that if an evil judge can be worn down by the persistence of a defenseless widow, how much more will a person who persists in  prayer be heard and rewarded by such a loving God as ours.  We are told in scripture to call out to Jesus and he will never turn us away (John 6:37).  The prayers of a righteous man have great power (James 5:16).  Praying is talking to God, and meditating is listening to God, so be persistent in your praying and be persistent in your listening and you will grow tremendously in faith, hope, and love.

 

Application

In the first reading, we see the courage of Moses change defeat into victory over the Amalekites. Then we hear Timothy being challenged to draw on his childhood family training and Scripture when a crisis threatens. In the Gospel, we see the widow persevere and finally wear the judge down and win. 

This week, let us read God’s Word to someone who cannot read. This could be a small child, a handicapped person, or an elderly person in a rest home. Share with that person how God has protected you when you thought the battle was lost; and because of God, you also won.

28TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Oct 13th) – CYCLE C

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 2 KINGS 5:14-17          FIRST READING

     (“So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of the man of God.”)

1. Who went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times, what made him do it and who was the man of God? 2 Kings 5:14, 2 Kings 5:8

 

2. Who was Naaman and what was wrong with him?  2 Kings 5:1

 

3. What happened to his flesh when he plunged into the Jordan seven times?  2 Kings 5:14

 

4. What does Jesus say will happen to us through his word? John 15:3

 

5. After being cleansed where did he go, and with whom did he go?  2 Kings 5:15

 

6. As he stood before Elisha, what did he say about God and what did he offer the prophet?  2 Kings 5:15

 

7. Where did he say that there is no God in all the world  but there?  2 Kings 5:15

 

8. What did Elisha say about the gift?  2 Kings 5:16

 

9. For what did Naaman ask, and for what reason?  2 Kings 5:17

 

Personal – In what way have you been cleansed or healed through your obedience to the Word of God?  Be specific.

 

 

THIRD DAY           READ 2 TIMOTHY 2:8-13      SECOND READING

(“There is no chaining the Word of God.”)

1. Of whom is Jesus Christ a descendant and what was the gospel being preached?  2 Timothy 2:8

 

2. Who was preaching this gospel and in so doing, how does he suffer? 2 Timothy 1:1 and 2 Timothy 2:8-9

 

3. As he suffers, even to the point of being thrown into chains, of what does he say there is no chaining?  2 Timothy 2:9

           

4. Why does he bear all of this and for what reason? 2 Tim 2:10

 

5. On what can you depend?  2 Timothy 2:11

 

6. What does it mean to die with him?  Romans 6:1-11

 

7. What will happen if we persevere to the end?  2 Timothy 2:12

 

8. What will happen if we deny him?  2 Timothy 2:12

 

9. If we are unfaithful, what will he do and for what reason? 2 Timothy 2:13

 

10. What does 1 Corinthians 1:9 say that God is?

 

Personal – In what way have you died with Jesus?  How have you faced a hardship among your family, work, or circle of friends because of your witnessing to the power of Christ in your life?

 

 

FOURTH DAY            READ LUKE 17:11-19                 GOSPEL

(“Stand up and go your way; your faith has been your salvation.”)

1. On Jesus journey to Jerusalem what borders did he pass along? See if you can find this on your bible map. Luke 17:11

 

2. As he was entering a village who met him and what did they keep?  Luke 17:12

 

3. As they raised their voices, what did they say to him and how did they address him?  Luke 17:13

 

4. When Jesus saw them, what was his response to them? Luke 17:14

 

5. What happened to them when they went on their way as he told them?  Luke 17:14

 

6. What did one of them do realizing he had been cured? Luke 17:15

 

7. What did he do at the feet of Jesus and of what did he speak?  Luke 17:16

 

8. What was the man and what did Jesus take the occasion to say?  Luke 17:16-17

 

9. What did they not return to do and what did he call the one man who did?  Luke 17:18

 

10. What did he tell the one man to do?  Luke 17:19

 

11. What did Jesus say it was that saved the man?  Luke 17:19

 

12. What did Jesus say to the woman who was bleeding? Matthew 9:22

 

Personal– In what way have you thanked God this week and for what have you thanked him?  Have you received healing in any way?  What do you believe healed you, or what may be blocking you from being healed?

 

 

FIFTH DAY             READ PSALM 98:1-4                    

           (“The Lord has made his salvation known”.)

Read and meditate on Psalm 98:1-4.

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

2 KINGS 5:14-17

This is a great passage that deals with the sin of pride and the core of faith.  Naaman was the commander-in-chief of the Syrian army and also a national hero.  He was stricken with the dreaded disease of leprosy and would consider anything or anyone who could heal him.  Leprosy, much like AIDS today, was one of the most feared diseases of that time.  There was no cure and if it was determined to be bad enough, a person would be removed from the community and sent into exile.  

Naaman’s disease was probably still in its early stages.  Naaman’s wife was told by her servant that a prophet of God in Israel could cure him.  He went to the prophet’s home and Elisha told him to go and bathe himself in the Jordan river and he would be cured.  Naaman was insulted at being told to do such a trivial thing in such a common, dirty river like the Jordan.  He was advised by his counselor to follow the prophet’s command and he was then healed of his leprosy.  

Naaman was a great hero and he was used to getting respect and he was outraged when Elisha treated him like an average person.  We need to learn the same lesson that Naaman learned, that obedience to God begins with humility.  We too must believe that his way is much better than our own.  We must always remember that God’s ways are best and God can use anything to accomplish his purposes.  Naaman then was so impressed with the Lord of Israel that he wanted to take two quantities of earth and make an earth altar and give worship to the God of Elisha, who is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Like Naaman, obedience to God will also bring us healing and blessings.   

 

2 TIMOTHY 2:8-13

Paul is really exhorting us to be courageous in our Christian walk and not to be afraid of suffering.  He tells Timothy that he must teach others so that they may pass on the Good News.  We are called to do that today, and we also need to know that suffering, persecution and, possibly, even death will be the hardship that goes with being an ambassador for Christ.  False teachers were a problem in those days as they are in ours.  The incarnation of Jesus Christ was the act of God voluntarily assuming a human body and soul, a  human nature.  He became a man without ceasing to be God, a human being, and his name was Jesus.  He did not give up his divinity to become human.  He became subject to place, time and many other human limitations.  He was, however, not subject to sin and he was able to show us everything about God’s character in human terms.  Paul very clearly states that Jesus is fully God and fully man.  Any other view than this is not biblical.  The truth about Jesus then was no more popular than it is today in our time.  

Today, Jesus is Lord only to a receptive heart, as it was in Paul’s time.  Paul’s declaration to the Jews that Jesus was God was an insult, and they condemned him for blasphemy.  The Romans were outraged because they worshipped the emperor as God (Philippians 4:22).  The Greeks were disgusted because humanity soiled divine status (Acts 11:20-21).  Many of these different cultures converted to Christianity only when, in faith, they believed in his being God and fully human.

Today we are free to choose to have a receptive heart.  We see in scripture that God has chosen us first.  It is in being obedient to his choice that we can really ever be totally free. This is a mystery that our humanity cannot fully understand, but we can be very grateful that he has chosen us.  God is totally faithful to us; even in the middle of our present hardships he is with us, and he gives us the strength to persevere (1 Cor. 10:13).  He tells us that someday we will live eternally with him and share in the administration of the kingdom (Matthew 16:24-27).  We may be faith less in our times of trial and hardship but Jesus remains faithful to his promise to be with us, even to the end of the world (Matthew 28:20). 

 

LUKE 17:11-19

We have learned that leprosy was a disease that was contagious and many times fatal, and the person was banned from his community.  His life was one of suffering, horror, rejection, and finally death alone and unwanted.  A leper had to announce his presence if he came into contact with a non-leper.  If a leper thought he was cured, he had to present himself to the priest and be declared clean (Leviticus 14).  Jesus sends the ten lepers to the priest before they were healed.  Their obedience in faith resulted in their being healed.  

We need to reflect on our own level of faith.  Do we act upon our being told by Jesus that we, too, have been healed (Matthew 8:17)?  We see only one healed leper return to give thanks and to realize that because he believed, his cure became possible.  God does not demand that we thank him for healing us, but in our spirit of thankfulness our faith grows more and more to his delight.  It is significant that Jesus mentioned that the only thankful leper was a Samaritan, who because of his race was despised by the Jews as idolatrous riff-raff.  We see that the grace of God is for everyone and yet not everyone is grateful.  

Jesus shows us in these verses that his healing power is just waiting to be released, that all we have to do is have faith, and step out and act upon that faith.  Jesus changed a situation for those lepers that probably had been going on for several years.  He was immediately responsive to the plea of these untouchables.  They were not able to live a normal life and be with their families but Jesus changed that and restored them to good health.  Jesus never gives up on us no matter how incurable, or untouchable, we may be.  Sometimes we are tempted to give up on people or situations which have not changed for many years.  

God can change the unchangeable and we need to let the change begin with ourselves.  We need to believe that he can cure us physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  We then need to come and kneel before Jesus and say, “Thank you for dying for me even while I was still sinning” (Romans 5:8).  Our faith will grow; and the “unclean” in our families, in our churches, in our country, and on our planet earth will see in us that healing light of Christ, the Morning Star (2 Peter 1:19).  They too will become healed and run through the countryside joyfully singing out the praises of a loving God who will some day cleanse the earth from sin, and there will be no more sickness and death (Matthew 8:17).

 

Application

In the first reading, we saw pride prevent a cure; then we saw obedience bring the cure.  In the second reading, we were encouraged to endure suffering for the sake of preaching the Good News.  In the Gospel, we saw the joy of the Lord over the thankful, unclean one being cured.  

This week, let us show our thanks to the Lord for healing us by doing something specific for the “unclean,”  like a day of fasting or a week of daily prayer for a specific person at a specific time. Maybe spend some time at a soup kitchen or help with the homeless, etc.  Let the unwanted see that they are wanted by Christ through you this week.

27TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME(Oct 6th) – CYCLE C   

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 HABAKKUK 1:2-3; 2:2-4      FIRST READING

(The just man, because of his faith, shall live.)

1. Who is crying out for help? Habakkuk 1:1

 

2. What is his complaint to God?  Habakkuk 1:2

 

3. What comes through hearing?  Romans 10:17

 

4. What did Habakkuk cry out to God and what does he say he does not do?  Habakkuk 1:2

 

5. What is he saying is before him?  Habakkuk 1:3

 

6. What was the Lord’s answer?  Habakkuk 2:2

 

7. What does the vision (Habakkuk 1:2-3) still have and to what does it press?  Habakkuk 2:3

 

8. What will the vision not do and what are we to do if it delays?  Habakkuk 2:3

 

9. What does the rash man not have and what does the just man have and live by?  Habakkuk 2:4

 

10. What is wealth and the proud?  Habakkuk 2:4

 

Personal – What do you do when you do not hear the Lord and are called to wait for the answer?  What comes forth from your mouth?

 

 

THIRD DAY        READ 2 TIMOTHY 1:6-8, 13-14     SECOND READING

(“The spirit God has given us is no cowardly spirit.”)

1. What is the gift of God Paul reminds Timothy to stir into flame and when did he receive this gift? 2 Timothy 1:5-6

 

2. What is faith?  Hebrews 11:l

 

3. The Spirit God has given us is not what, but it is one that makes us what three things?  2 Timothy 1:7

 

4. Because of this we are never to be ashamed of what to our Lord?   2 Timothy 1:8

 

5. Where does your strength come from and what are we to bear? 2 Timothy 1:8

 

6. What have you heard Paul say in faith and love in Christ Jesus?  2 Timothy 1:13

 

7. With whose help are you to guard this rich deposit of faith? 2 Timothy 1:14

 

8. How can you guard what has been committed to you?  1 Timothy 6:20

 

9. Where does the Holy Spirit dwell?  2 Timothy 1:14

 

10. How do we honor or glorify God? 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

 

11. Why should we take care of our body?  Reread 2 Timothy 1:14 and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

 

Personal – In what way have you testified to your faith in Jesus Christ to your family, friends, fellow workers or those you come in contact with every day?  In what way can they see his Holy Spirit present in your body?  

 

 

FOURTH DAY              READ LUKE 17:5-10                GOSPEL

(“Increase our faith.”)

1. What did the apostles say to the Lord?  Luke 17:5

 

2. What did Jesus say would happen if you had faith the size of a mustard seed?  Luke 17:6

 

3. What else will we do if we trust and do not falter, and what will we receive?  Matthew 21:21-22

 

4. What did Peter and John do to the beggar and how did they do it?  Acts 3:6-8, 16

 

Personal – How can you measure the amount of faith you have?  How can you increase the faith you have?

 

5. Who plows or herds sheep?  Luke 17:7

 

6. What would you say to him when he comes in from the fields?Luke 17:8

 

7. When are we not to expect gratitude for what we do?  Luke 17:9

 

8. When we have done all that we have been commanded, what are we to say?  Luke 17:10

 

9. In order to become great, what are we to do?  Matthew 20:26-27

 

10. What did the Son of Man come to do?  Matthew 20:28

 

11. What did Mary call herself when the angel came to her?Luke 1:38

 

Personal – In what way have you taken on the serving attitude of Jesus and Mary?  In what way are you willing to serve those in your family, your friends and strangers?

 

 

FIFTH DAY             READ PSALM 95:1-2, 6-9              

(“Let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.”) 

Read and meditate on Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9.

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

HABAKKUK 1:2-3, 2:2-4

Habakkuk was extremely troubled with not only what was happening to his country, but why God seemed to show such indifference to the wickedness that was so common around him.  He was a prophet during the reign of Jehoiakim (2 Kings 23:36-24:5). He was very active between the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C. and the invasion of Judah in 589 B.C.  

Babylon was becoming a world power and Judah was certain to be her next victim.  This passage shows us a dialogue between a prophet and his God.  The other prophetic books bring God’s word to men; but this book brings man’s questions to God.  Habakkuk was crushed by all the corruption he saw around him and he poured out his heart telling God what he thought.  

We can really empathize with Habakkuk when we look at the corruption going on around us.  We have abortion, pornography, prostitution, drugs, homosexuality, alcoholism, child abuse that matches anything that Habakkuk saw.  In short, today’s injustice is still overwhelming.  We, like Habakkuk, say today, “Why does God seem to ignore the evil that is going around?”  We may be asking, “Why are so many people doing evil things and not being punished for them?”

 In the second part of the passage we see God telling Habakkuk to write his response down and bring it to the people.  God answers Habakkuk’s questions just like he will ours, when like Habakkuk we pour out our hearts to him.  God told Habakkuk that Judah was going to be punished by being destroyed by Babylon.  God also tells Habakkuk, as well as us, that judgment, though slow to come, will certainly come.  

Today, we hear that in regard to our civil courts of law.  We are told justice may be slow, but it will be served.  Many Christians, like Habakkuk, feel very angry as they see evil enjoying what seems to be the upper hand in the world.  Habakkuk had a personal relationship with God and complained vigorously, and God responded to him personally.  God’s message to us is the same as the one he gave to Habakkuk:  Be patient, trust in God, keep God in your thoughts and actions, stay close to his Holy Word.  It isn’t easy to be patient, but it helps to remember that God hates sin even more than we do.  God told Habakkuk, “Do not despair.”  

Trusting God means to trust him even when we do not understand why things happen like they do.  We need to remember, the just man shall live by faith. (Romans 1:17)

 

2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14

Paul is encouraging his young protege to be faithful in his role as a leader in the Christian community.  Timothy was experiencing great opposition to his message and to himself as the leader of his community.  Timothy’s youth was his biggest disadvantage and Paul was encouraging him to persevere.  Timothy had received special gifts of the Holy Spirit at his ordination, and Paul was telling him to call upon the Spirit for these gifts and use them regularly.  

Timothy didn’t need new gifts, he needed the courage and discipline to hang on to the truth and use the gifts he had already received (1:13-14).  Paul is encouraging him to step out boldly in faith and proclaim God’s Holy Word, and the Holy Spirit would be with him and give him power.  We suffer the same as Timothy when we let people intimidate us, and it neutralizes our effectiveness for God.  The same Holy Spirit that empowered Paul, Timothy and other heroes of the bible will empower us.  

We can overcome our fear of what some might say or do to us and get on with doing God’s work.  Timothy may have been afraid to preach as he began experiencing rejection in the community. Today, we need to accept the fact that we will be persecuted too, when we proclaim and live God’s Holy Word.  Like Timothy, we too will enjoy the power of the Holy Spirit and his gifts of boldness and courage, when we yield ourselves in faith to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  

Timothy was a leader in transition.  He had moved from being Paul’s helper to Paul’s replacement.  He called upon the Holy Spirit to give him courage to make the transition.  We too can follow Paul’s advice to Timothy when we are in our transitions.  Like Paul who, knew even while in prison, that God was still in control, we need to reflect and then act on this powerful fact. No matter where we are in life, no matter what is happening to us, God is still in control.

 

Luke 17:5-10

How many times do we say the same thing to our Lord?  “I need more faith, tell me how to get it.”  Jesus casts doubt on the possession of any faith of the apostles.  Maybe because they were one of the selected few, they put too much emphasis on who they were.  They may have been too self-assured because he was with them.  (Jesus describes the power that comes through faith using the similarity between their faith and a tiny mustard seed.)  The disciples’ question was a valid one because they wanted the faith necessary to do what Jesus had been telling them to do.  

Jesus implied that  faith is not something you “get.”  What is Faith?  Faith is described best with two words:  confidence and certainty (Hebrews 11:1).  You have to reach out and take hold of faith.  Picture someone tossing a book at you.  If you respond properly, you will catch it.  If you do nothing, the book will fall at your feet.  Knowing how to catch it will be of no value if you do not reach out and respond.  

Jesus wasn’t condemning the apostles for having substandard faith, he was trying to show them how important it would be in their ministry.  We can only rise to the occasion if we know that within us is the solution (1 John 4:4).  Our faith grows just like a mustard seed as we respond more and more to the power of the presence of God in our life.  When we face a problem as big as a mountain, we need to take our eyes off that mountain and put them only on Christ.  We need only remember Peter, when in faith he stepped out of the boat to go to the Lord in the raging sea; but when he took his eyes off the Lord and placed it on the enormous waves, he began to sink (Matthew 14:28-30).  

Today, we need to continuously keep in prayer and let our faith grow in Christian fellowship. We also need to partake in the sacraments of our church.  We must remember that there is great power in even a little faith when God is with us.  When we feel weak or powerless we need to re-examine our faith and make sure that we are responding to the presence of God’s power and not ours.  In faith, we can all be like a mustard seed that begins very small and soon casts a shadow of comfort and healing over the entire world.  In faith, we can see with the vision of God himself.

 

Application

In the first reading, we are told to persevere, be patient and to trust in God.  In the second reading, we hear the call to courage and discipline.  The Gospel calls us to step out boldly and live our life in faith.

This week let us, in faith, step out in boldness, discipline and practice being a Christian leader wherever we are.  This will mean being a servant for the Lord by serving someone else in our family, job, community, etc.

26TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Sep 29) – CYCLE C 

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 AMOS 6:1, 4-7         FIRST READING

(“They are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph.”)

1. Woe to whom in Zion, and to whom on the mount in Samaria?  Amos 6:1.

 

2. With whom do the people of Israel have recourse?  Amos 6:1

 

3. What do you eat and on what do you lie?  Amos 6:4

 

4. What does the Lord say about those who take care of themselves and feed off of choice lambs and fatted calves? Ezekiel 34:3, 10

 

5. On the day the Lord punishes Israel for her sins, what will he tear down? Amos 3:14-15

 

6. Like David, what do they do?  Amos 6:5

 

7. What do they drink and what do they do with the best oils? Amos 6:6

 

8. By what are they not made ill?  Amos 6:6

 

9. What did those in Sodom do?  Ezekiel 16:49

 

10. What will they be the first to go into, and what will be done away with?  Amos 6:7

 

Personal – In what way have you become complacent with what you eat and where you sleep?  In what way do you have more than you need?  In what way can you benefit others by your excess?   

 

 

THIRD DAY     READ 1 TIMOTHY 6:11-16         SECOND READING

(“He is the blessed and only ruler the King of kings and Lord of lords.”) 

1. Man of God that you are, from what are you to flee?  1 Timothy 6:10

 

2. What six things are you to seek?  1 Timothy 6:11

 

3. Of what are you to fight the good fight and take hold of? 1 Timothy 6:12

 

4. You were called to this when you did what, and in whose  presence?  1 Timothy 6:12

 

5. What did Paul say awaited him for fighting the good fight of faith?  2 Timothy 4:7-8

 

6. What does God do for all and what did Jesus do?  1 Timothy 6:13

 

7. With what are we charged, how are we to do this, and until when?  1 Timothy 6:14

 

8. When will God bring this appearance to pass?  1 Timothy 6:15

 

9. Who is Jesus Christ?  1 Timothy 6:15

 

10. What does he alone have, and where does he dwell?  1 Timothy 6:16 

 

11. What can no human being do and what two things must we show Jesus?  1 Timothy 6:16

 

Personal – This past week, what have you been seeking, and what has occupied your mind the most?  Who or what has been your ruler? If you can see the opposites of the six things you are to seek according to 1 Timothy 6:11, and if any of these have crept into your life, confess them; then come back to seeking what God’s Word tells you.

 

 

FOURTH DAY         READ LUKE 16:19-31                GOSPEL

(“They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.”)

1. As Jesus spoke to his disciples, what did he say there once  was?  How was he dressed, and how did he eat?  Luke 16:19

 

2. Who was at his gate, what was he, and with what was he covered?  Luke 16:20

 

3. What did Lazarus long to eat and what did the dogs do? Luke 16:21

 

4. What eventually happened to the beggar, and what happened to him after that?  Luke 16:22

 

5. What happened to the rich man and what happened to him after that?  Luke 16:22

 

6. Where was the rich man, what was happening to him, and what did he see?  Luke 16:23

 

7. What did he call out and what was Abraham’s response? Luke 16:24-25

 

8. What was fixed between them and what happens to those who try to cross from either side?  Luke 16:26

 

9. What did the rich man ask Father Abraham to do, for what reason, and what was his reply?  Luke 16:27-29

 

10. What did the rich man say and what did he say they would do? Luke 16:30

 

11. Abraham said if they did not listen to whom, they would not be convinced even if one should what? Luke 16:31

 

Personal – In what way have you noticed a poor person and responded to his need this week?  A poor person is one lacking in knowing God’s love through Jesus, a lonely person, a widow, an orphan, or someone lacking their daily bread and shelter.

 

 

FIFTH DAY             READ PSALM 146:7-10                  

(“The Lord sets captives free.”)

Read and meditate on Psalm 146:7-10.

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

AMOS 6:1, 4-7

     In Amos we find God calling a man when he was occupied in his daily work (1:1).  God called him with his shepherd’s crook in his hand, and sent him forth to gather straying people instead of straying sheep.  Amos was not the only prophet of his day.  No doubt, as a boy, he had known Jonah, and possibly Elisha.  Hosea was a co-worker of his.  When Amos’ work was ending, the great Isaiah and Micah appeared.  

These men, when they were boys, might have heard Amos proclaim the word of God on one of his tours.  The two kingdoms of Israel (Northern Kingdom) and Judah (Southern Kingdom) were entering tremendous prosperity.  The idea of surrounding nations giving them any trouble was not even imagined.  The nation was at peace and all that the people thought of was pleasure and having a good time.  God tried to arouse his people to a sense of their danger by sending them Amos.  

Amos told them about the great cities to the north, east, and west (including Gath, the hometown of Goliath) that once were greater than Israel and Judah but that they had been destroyed because of the pride of their people.  He warned that this was going to happen to Israel also because of the arrogance and pride of her people.  Amos leveled  his attack at the people living in a lifestyle that consisted of wealth and being very comfortable.  He said this was a false security and that God was displeased with people who did not use their wealth to help the unfortunate.  

Ivory symbolizes great wealth and extravagance.  This gross waste of resources should have been used to help the poor.  Amos told them that God wanted them to be concerned for others, especially those who could not help themselves.  The kingdom of God has no place for selfishness or indifference.  

We, in the United States, need to really reflect on this passage, because we too indulge in incredible extravagances with our desires and wishes.  We spend billions of dollars on cosmetics, while millions of people are starving.  We spend more on dog food in this country than many nations spend on their entire budget.  We kill more unborn babies in one year than all of the military personnel who have died in battle since the country began.  In less than fifty years, Israel was destroyed because she did not listen to God through his prophets.  We need to pray that the United States will heed God’s powerful warning and repent and return to his Holy Word.

 

1 TIMOTHY 6:11-16

     Paul is telling Timothy that when you are involved in a spiritual battle, it is as important knowing when to run as it is knowing when to fight.  Timothy is warned to run from anything or anyone who produced evil thoughts.  A wise person will realize that removing one’s self from the scene of temptation is many times safer than trying to fight off the temptation.  It is in these battles of temptation that our faith is severely tested.  

We are to treasure our faith in Christ and respond, not to the temptation, but to the power of the presence of God in our lives.  God will speak to us through our conscience in times of temptation.  When we are walking with God, he will let us know the difference between right and wrong.  We need to follow our conscience and do what is right in faith.  Pilate knew the truth about Jesus.  He knew he was innocent but he chose to reject the truth.  Pilate violated his own conscience.  

It is a tragedy when we fail to recognize the truth; but like Pilate, it is a greater tragedy when we recognize the truth but refuse to act on it.  We are being told to fight the good fight today, just as Timothy was told by Paul.  The day will come when all the believers who have fought the good fight will be with Christ in his Kingdom.  

Paul describes to Timothy the type of God who will be with us at the end of the good fight.  We are told that he is ageless and  that all who have gone before us and all who come after us, believing in him, will be alive with him forever.  He is a God who will never die.  He is a God infinitely powerful, having dominion over everything;  yet he wants to share all with us. Paul’s message to Timothy is a message to you and me, and that is: Let us not put our trust in anything or anyone else but JESUS, because only he alone is permanent.

 

LUKE 16:19-31

     Wealth was considered by the Pharisees to be a proof of righteousness.  Today many people yield to the wealthy because they appear to be right on so many issues.  Jesus tells us about a rich man who was punished and also about a poor man who was rewarded.  We need to be very careful in the realization that the rich man was not punished because of his wealth; rather he was punished because of his selfishness.  

He allowed Lazarus to eat the scraps at his table and take home whatever he wanted that was to be thrown away. The rich man was in hell, not for what he did, but rather for what he did not do.   The rich man feasted in luxury every day in a country where the people were fortunate if they ate meat once a week.  Lazarus was waiting for the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table.  We need to remember that in those days, there were no knives, forks or napkins.  Food was eaten with the hands.  The hands were cleansed by wiping them on chunks of bread, which were then thrown away.  This is what Lazarus waited to eat.  

We need also to remember that Lazarus was a beggar with terrible running sores all over his body and even the dogs feasted on him.  Can you picture the incredible contrast between the two men?  Judgment day brought justice to both men and the rich man suffers forever in eternity while Lazarus rests in the arms of Abraham (Hebrew concept of heaven).  

The rich man never ordered Lazarus removed from his gate. He did not kick him in passing.   He was not deliberately cruel to him.  The great sin of the rich man was that HE NEVER EVEN NOTICED HIM.  He thought it perfectly natural that the beggar be accepted as part of the landscape.  He also thought it acceptable that Lazarus should lie in pain and hunger while he wallowed in luxury.  

We need to reflect on our own status in today’s world.  The hungry, the homeless, the aborted, the abandoned, the mentally sick, and the poor are all around us.  Do we think ourselves generous if the unfortunate people eat what we throw away?  We need to make sure that our sin today is not the horrible sin of omission.  What we fail to do to the least among us, we fail to do to Christ (Matthew 25:31-46).

 

Application  

The first reading told us not to become insulated toward the people’s needs.  The second reading told us to listen to our conscience.  The Gospel tells us not to ignore the suffering of others.  

This week, as our conscience leads us, visit and comfort someone who is suffering, an old person, a relative, a friend, someone in a rest home, prison.  Jesus tells us in scripture, “As often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me.”  (Matthew 25:40)

25TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Sep 22) – CYCLE C 

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 AMOS 8:4-7         FIRST READING

(“Hear this, you who trample upon the needy.”)

1. Who is speaking and to whom is he speaking in Amos 8:4-7?   Amos 8:1-2

 

2. On whom do you trample, and whom do you destroy?  Amos 8:4

 

3. What do you ask about the new moon and what is the new moon?  Amos 8:5 and Numbers 28:9-15

         

4. For what reason did they want to know if the new moon was over?  Amos 8:5

            

5. What does the Lord tell his people in Leviticus 19:35- 36?

 

6. How can you have a long life on this earth?  Deuteronomy 25:13-16

 

7. What will they buy for silver and for a pair of sandals?      Amos 8:6

 

8. What will they sell?  Amos 8:6

 

9. By what has the Lord sworn, and what will he never forget?  Amos 8:7

 

10. What does the Lord say about the pride of Jacob?  Amos 6:8

 

11. When does the Lord forget what we have done in the past?  Ezekiel 18:21-22

 

Personal – In what way have you created a poor person by remaining silent or by giving from your surplus rather than from your needs, at home, or at the offering at church on Sunday?

 

 

THIRD DAY             READ 1 TIMOTHY 2:1-8         SECOND READING

(“God is one.  One also is the mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.”)

1. Who is writing this letter and to whom is he writing? 1 Timothy 1:1-2

        

2. What four things is he urging be offered for all men?  1 Timothy 2:1

     

3. For whom is he especially urging this and for what reason? 1 Timothy 2:2

 

4. What does he say about prayer of this kind and how does God feel about it?  1 Timothy 2:3

 

5. What does God want and for whom does he want this? 1 Timothy 2:4

 

6. What does he want all men to come to know?  1 Timothy 2:4

 

7. What is the truth and who is the truth?  1 Tim. 2:5, John 14:6

 

8. As what did Jesus give himself and for whom?  1 Timothy 2:6

 

9. When was this truth attested to?  1 Timothy 2:6

 

10. What has Paul been made and what is his wish? 1 Timothy 2:7-8

 

11. What is his wish that every man be free from? 1 Timothy 2:8

 

Personal – In what way have you been set free from anger and dissension?  In what way are you following the example of Paul and teaching those around you what verse 5-6 of 1 Timothy 2 says?

 

 

FOURTH DAY        READ LUKE 16:1-13           GOSPEL

(“You cannot give yourself to God and money.”)

1. As Jesus was speaking to his disciples what did he say the steward of a rich man was reported doing? Luke 16:1

 

2. What did the rich man say to his steward?  Luke 16:2

 

3. What did the steward say to himself?  Luke 16:3

 

4. As he thought of an idea, what would be the result of the people toward him?  Luke 16:4

 

5. When the steward called in each of his master’s debtors what did he ask them, what was their answer, and what were the steward’s instructions?  Luke 16:5-7

 

6. For what did the master give his devious employee credit, and for what reason?  Luke 16:8

 

7. What are you to gain from this world’s goods?  Luke 16:9

 

8. How are you to use this world’s goods? Matthew 25:35-36

 

9. When the goods of this world fail you, what will be yours? Luke 16:9, Matthew 25:34

 

10. Fill in the following blanks:  The person who is ____________ in very small matters is also ______________ in great ones; and the person who is ___________ in very small matters is also ___________ in great ones.  Luke 16:10

11. In verses 10-12  of Luke 16, what is the key quality being brought out in regards to money?

 

12. What must you do first before providing for yourself and family?  Matthew 6:33

 

13. What can a servant not do?  Luke 16:13

 

Personal – In what way have you shown responsibility in your use of your worldly goods?  Examine the last twenty-four hours.  How much of your time was spent earning and spending money for this world’s goods and how much time was spent loving and giving to your brother or sister in need?  “You cannot give yourself to God and money.”

 

 

FIFTH DAY              READ PSALM 113:1-2, 4-8              

(“High above all nations is the Lord.”)

Read and meditate on Psalm 113:1-2, 4-8.

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

AMOS 8:4-7

     This passage is spoken to us by a person who was a shepherd.  He was not a prophet or the son of a prophet.  He did not go to some prestigious school, but he was called by God to bring a message of obedience to the people without any special preparation, education or upbringing.  Amos obeyed God’s call to go and prophesy to the people of Israel. 

Obedience, then, as it is today, was the test of a faithful servant.  He spoke out to the people in a time of peace and affluence, and his message was not well received.  He told them, you do all the external things that are required of you very well, but in your hearts you are corrupt.  The merchants kept the religious holidays, but not in spirit.  Their primary goal was in making money, even if that meant not being really honest.  We see that today in our society on special days like Christmas and Easter.  The message on the surface is peace and goodwill but the bottom line to many is to make money. 

The humanist call Christmas “Winter Vacation” and Easter “Spring Vacation,” and many Christians go right along with it, and their conduct is no different than the pagans in this passage or the ones that are right here in our present-day society.

     They used phony weights and measures and cheated the poor. We do that today by electing corrupt politicians who make it legal to cheat the poor and make millions of dollars doing it.  We need to reflect on this passage on our time that we call our “day off” (Sunday).  Do we give that day to the Lord?  Is that a day that our family knows will consist of praising the Lord and visiting family?  Or is it a day when what we should get done during the week is being done because we are too busy making money on the other days?  We need to reflect in prayer that God will give us the strength to open our hearts and give to him the first fruits of our efforts.  We are these people in this passage, and we must respond in obedience to God’s call to feed his hungry, clothe his poor, visit his sick because what we do to the least of our brother and sisters we do unto him (Matthew 25:31-46).

 

1 TIMOTHY 2:1-8

     The church has a great calling.  We are not only called upon to plead with men to turn to God, but to plead with God the cause of men.  Our God is so fantastic, he has let us have the incredible privilege of helping him change the world through our prayers.  Our understanding of this can never be fully grasped because it is a true mystery of faith.  But it is a reality because Paul urges us to pray for one another and he even tells us to pray for our rulers.  

We might well remember that Nero was the emperor at this time (A.D. 54-68).  It was under this wicked emperor that Paul was imprisoned, and he knew that soon he was to be beheaded.  This proves to us that we must pray for bad rulers as well as good rulers.  

Paul wrote this during a great persecution of the believers.  Paul tells us that God longs to save us just as Peter did in Scripture (2 Peter 3:9).  This means that while God wanted all to be saved, all did not accept his invitation.  Paul tells us that the power of prayer affects all men and that power is available to us through intercessory prayer.  

When we pray for someone else we stand in God’s presence, pleading for that person.  Our Lord Jesus binds and casts out the demon spirit and leaves the person the freedom to choose to return to God’s loving way.  Some people refuse this incredible gift and fail to become healed.  Paul makes it clear that when we pray for someone we can go straight to our Lord and stand in his Presence, pleading for that person.  

     There is an old story about a Roman warrior who returned home in victory to find his brother about to be put to death in the Roman court.  He stood in the back of the courtroom and without a word he held up the bleeding stub of the arm which had been cut off in battle.  As the judge looked upon the wound, he said “For the sake of this brave warrior, his brother is counted innocent and free.”  We should be condemned for our sins, but we look and see Jesus holding up his nail-printed hands, presenting his pierced feet and wounded side, pleading for you and me.  

That is what the power of prayer can do.  It brings the healing power of Jesus to anyone who is truly sorry.  We need to be people of prayer and people of pure conduct.  We are the temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16) and the prayers of the righteous man are very powerful (James 5:16).

 

LUKE 16:1-13

     Jesus tells the parable of the shrewd accountant in this passage.  The story is about an accountant being confronted by his boss on charges of cheating the company.  We will have to give an account of our actions to God someday just like the accountant had to do in this story (Romans 14:12).  This man wasted the resources that he had through the use of his conniving and cheating with others in the business world.  His love for money determined his course of conduct and he exercised corrupt authority and power with it.  We need to reflect on these few verses about our involvement with money, trust, and integrity.  

     We are called by God to use our material goods in a way that will help us as we stand face to face with God on judgment day (Luke 12:33, 34).  We notice the admiration coming from the boss toward the accountant for his shrewdness.  We can easily be influenced by what the world calls admirable behavior, because worldly people are very clever, more so than Godly people.  We are children of the light (John 12:36), and we are not called to be clever, we are called to be honest.  We are not called to buy friendship through cheating or granting special favors.  

Our entry into heaven is not based on how clever we are, or how many good deals we make in business, or how close we come to the line of integrity and still be legal.  We are called to be righteous in all matters, small or large, profitable or otherwise.  We can only be trustworthy in large matters by being trustworthy in small ones.  We can only be trustworthy to others when we are always trustworthy to ourselves.  Heaven’s riches are far more valuable than earthly wealth and power.  

     Many people have let money take the place of God in their life, and it has become their master.  Make a few observations and see if you have become a slave to money.  Do you worry about money frequently?  Do you give up doing what you should in order to make more money?  Do you spend a great deal of time caring for your possessions?  Do you find it difficult to give away your money?  

     We can see that money is a hard and deceptive master.  Money always promises power and control, but it often can not deliver on its promises.  Money cannot buy health, joy, or eternal life.  We are so much wiser, happier, and at peace when we let God be our master.  Money is meant to be a servant of man and man is called to be a servant of God.  God’s servants have peace of mind and security both now and forever.

     

Application 

In the first reading, we saw the dangers of greed, and in the second reading, we saw the power of prayer.  We are told in the gospel that we cannot serve two masters.  

This week, look around in your family or parish and pick out someone with whom you can share your worldly goods.  Do something for that person without their knowing that it was you–like paying a bill, having the lawn mowed, or doing an errand, etc.  In short, do something beautiful for God this week; and remember, before you do anything for that person, pray that the Lord fill his or her life as he has filled yours.

24TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Sep 15)- CYCLE C 

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).

 

LUKE 15:1-32

     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.

 

Application

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.

23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Sep 8th) – CYCLE C   

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

WISDOM 9:13-18

     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.

 

LUKE 14:25-33

     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.                  

 

APPLICATION

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.

22ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Sep. 1)- CYCLE C

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 3:17-18, 20, 28-29      FIRST READING

             (“Conduct your affairs with humility.”)

1. How are we to conduct our affairs?  Sirach 3:17

 

2. What will happen to us if we conduct ourselves this way?     Sirach 3:17

 

3. What are we to do all the more, the greater we are? Sirach  3:18

 

4. With whom will we find favor?  Sirach 3:18

 

5. For what are we not to seek or search?  Sirach 3:20

 

6. What does the mind of a sage appreciate?  Sirach 3:28

 

7. What is the wise man’s joy?  Sirach 3:28

 

8. What quenches a flaming fire and what atones for sin?  Sirach 3:29

 

9. What makes a person great and what happens to the person who exalts himself?  Matthew 23:11-12

 

10. What must we do to our soul and where do we put our hope?    Psalm 131:1-3

 

Personal – In what way have you taken on a servant’s attitude at home, with family or friends or at work?  What is your attitude about being a servant to all with whom you come in contact?

 

 

THIRD DAY         READ HEBREWS 12:18-19, 22-24      SECOND READING

            (“Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant”)

1. To what have we not been drawn near, that those who heard begged that it not be addressed to them? Hebrews 12:18-19

 

2. Where have we drawn near and whose city is it? Hebrews 12:22   

 

3. Who is there and how are they gathered there?  Hebrews 12:22

 

4. Of whom is it the assembly, where are they enrolled, and who is the judge of all?  Hebrews 12:23

 

5. Who has been made perfect?  Hebrews 12:23

 

6. How can we be made perfect?  Matthew 5:43-48

 

7. Of what is Jesus mediator?  Hebrews 12:24

 

8. What speaks more eloquently than that of Abel?  Hebrews 12:24

 

9. What is the new covenant of which Jesus is the mediator?  Hebrews 8:6-12

 

10. How was this new covenant made?  Hebrews 9:11-14

 

Personal – In what way have you accepted the new covenant of God?  How has the shedding of Jesus’ blood washed you clean?

 

 

FOURTH DAY            READ LUKE 14:1, 7-14                 GOSPEL

         (“Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.”)

1. What day did Jesus come to eat a meal, to whose house did he  come, and who were they observing closely?  Luke 14:1

 

2. What did Jesus go on to do to the guest, and what had he noticed happening?  Luke 14:7

    

3. What did he say we are not to do if we are invited to a wedding, for what reason, and what might the host do?  Luke 14:8,9

 

4. How would we proceed to the lowest place, and what should we do when invited so the host will say, “My friend, come up higher?”  Luke 14:9-10

 

5. What will this do for us in the eyes of our fellow guest?   Luke 14:10

 

6. What happens to everyone who exalts himself, and what happens to everyone who humbles himself?         Luke 14:11

7. Who was humble and how did he humble himself? Philippians 2:5-8

 

8. What did Jesus say to the one who had invited him?  Luke 14:12

 

9. What are we to do when we have a reception?  Luke 14:13

 

10. About what should we be pleased,  and how will we be repaid?  Luke 14:14

 

Personal – How have you demonstrated humility in your home, at work or at social functions?  When is the last time you entertained someone who could not repay you the honor?  Be specific.

 

 

FIFTH DAY           READ PSALM 68:4-7, 10-11               

              (“God gives a home for the forsaken.”)

Read and meditate on Psalm 68:4-7, 10-11.

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 3:17-18, 20, 28-29

     To have a clear picture of who you really are is to be humble.  Paul tells us in Romans 12:3 that we should not get too enthused about our own self-importance.  While healthy self-esteem is important, we should not go too far in self-love.  Humility is the key to an honest and accurate evaluation of our self-worth, our own identity in Christ.  Being humble does not mean that we should put our self down because we know that we are sinners, and are saved only by God’s grace.  We also know that we are saved and therefore have great value in his eyes and in his kingdom.  We must yield to him completely and put ourselves in his hands to be used as he wants, in order to spread his Word and share his love with others.

     Our conduct speaks volumes about our humility.  Humility is the call to servanthood, it is totally opposite of one who is selfish.  A humble person is one who is selfless and thinks of others more than of himself. This is what Christ preached, believed, and lived.  Being humble is a guard against selfishness, prejudice, and jealousy.  Showing genuine interest in others is one way to strive actively to put on the “mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:5-11).  The attitude of humility was the kind that Jesus has shown to all mankind.  He didn’t demand or cling to his rights, or cry out for vengeance.  He called us out to love our enemies and forgive over and over.  Jesus was humble, he was God yet he took on the role of a servant.  He was willing to give up his rights in order to obey God and serve his people.  

We must be just like Christ, in fact, he calls us to do even greater things than he (John 14:12).  We can strive to be more like him by being more humble than we have ever been before.  Like Christ, we must serve out of love for God and for others, not out of guilt or fear.  Jesus humbled himself on a cross and to his death.  We are called to follow him by humbly going up on our own cross and dying to ourselves in his Holy Name.

 

HEBREWS 12:18-19, 22-24

     Paul describes what it must have been like on that flaming Mount Sinai.  The people were probably terrified with all of the commotion going on the mountain.  A great ball of fire was present, then out of nowhere a great storm sprung up.  Paul told them that they did not have to face anything as terrifying as the people of Moses time did on that mountain.  He goes on to tell them about the incredible contrast to their being able to be on the special mountain and into the city of God.  This contrast between the old and new covenant was like pointing out the differences between a photograph of a person and the actual person.  The photograph is in reality a shadow of the real person, and the old covenant of God handing Moses the ten commandments was a shadow of the new covenant.  

     The old agreement was a covenant of Law between God and Israel.  The new and better way is the covenant of Grace.  The new covenant is Christ forgiving our sins and bringing us to God through his sacrificial death.  This covenant goes beyond Israel and Judah to all the gentile nations of the world.  Jesus is the source of this new agreement, and his blood was shed in forgiveness not in vengeance as was Abel’s.  This new covenant is written in our hearts and minds.  Our bodies have become the sacred temple of this Lamb of God.  This new covenant offers a new way to forgiveness, not through animal sacrifice, but through faith.  We need to reflect and ask  ourselves, “Have I entered into this new agreement and begun to walk in the better way.”

     The invitation to partake in this new covenant is open to all of us.  Before Jesus came God seemed distant and threatening, as we can imagine on that night on Mount Sinai. Now God welcomes us through Christ into his presence. 

   

LUKE 14:1, 7-14

     Jesus accepted this invitation to a Pharisee’s home even though he knew they were trying to trap him into saying or doing something wrong.  He was criticized for defending the integrity of a woman who came uninvited to the home of the Pharisee who had invited Jesus. Their trap to get Jesus to do something wrong, so that they may get him arrested, did not scare him.  

     Jesus began to teach them about honor. He told the guest not to always be seeking places of honor, rather they should seek ways to be of service.  Today, just as it was then, service is more important in God’s kingdom than status.  He told them not to be so particular about who is invited because he knew that this select group of people would invite them to one of their special functions.  

Jesus really hit a nerve with them when he told them that if they try to impress others with their own status and demand to sit up front, they might be terribly embarrassed if someone who has more status shows up and forces them to sit in the back. We might ask ourselves, “Does this apply to me?”. When you go out to some function, such as a dinner, do you demand quick service and complain if the service or food is not quite the best?  Do you expect people to cater to you because you are a religious person or maybe a professional person like a lawyer, doctor, teacher, etc.?  

Jesus’ message to the Pharisees who lived two thousand years ago applies today to all of us.  We are all called to be humble, to defer to others.  We are called to die to ourselves, to think about meeting the needs of others and not just our own.  Jesus tells us to think about inviting someone to our house who will not be able to repay the invitation.  He tells us to serve someone who is not of any high status personally.  He is not asking us to join some organization or help out at a soup kitchen.  He is saying that we need to reach out in humility to someone who is poor in spirit.  To be poor in spirit is to have material things and yet be emotionally and spiritually hungry and looking for a personal relationship with Christ. 

     Spiritual leadership, which means taking on the humility of Christ and becoming a servant, is desperately needed in our own homes. It is certainly needed in our jobs, schools, and churches.  God will reward us for inviting the uninvited, for loving the unlovable.  He will say to us one day, “My loving friend, I have a better place for you; come, be here with me in heaven forever.”

 

Application 

The first reading tells us that our conduct speaks volumes about our humility.  The second reading shows that the old agreement was a covenant of law between God and Israel.  The new and better way is the covenant of grace.  The Gospel reveals that we are all called to be humble.

This week, put on a heart of humility (Col.3:12) and be clothed in humility toward one another (1 Peter 5:5).  We can only love one another when we serve each other in Jesus’ holy name.

Let us begin at home by helping one another in simple chores around the house.  Look around to see where you can serve instead of being served.  We really love one another when we serve one another.