Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (February 7th) – Cycle B

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 JOB 7:1-4, 6-7 FIRST READING

(“Remember that my life is like the wind,”)

1.  Who is speaking, and about whom is he speaking? Job 1:1, Job 6:1

 

2. What is Job saying about man’s life on earth, and what are his days like?  Job 7:1

 

3. What is man and for what is he longing?  As a hireling, for what does he wait?  Job 7:2

 

4. What is vanity? Ecclesiastes 2:23

 

5. What is man born of woman? Job 14:1

 

6. All the days of drudgery, for what will I wait? Job 14:14

 

7. What has Job been assigned day and night?  Job 7:3

 

Personal  Does your life seem hopeless, and do you dread each day because of your suffering?

 

8. What is considered, and from whose hand comes violence? Ecclesiastes 4:1

 

9. What does Job say from the bed, what does the night do, and with what is he filled?   Job 7:4

 

10. What are his days, and how do they come to an end? Job 7:6,  Job 9:25

 

11. What does Job remember, and what shall he not see again? Job 7:7

 

Personal – Are you or do you know people who are chronic sufferers?  How have you responded to their suffering?

 

 

THIRD DAY READ 1 CORINTHIANS 9:16-19, 22-23 SECOND READING

(“To the weak I become weak, to win over the weak.”)

1. What has been imposed on Paul if he preaches the Gospel, what is there no reason for him to do, and what happens if he does not preach it?  1 Corinthians 9:16

 

2. To whom is Paul obligated to preach?  Romans 1:14-15

 

3. What is it impossible for us to do?  Acts 4:20

 

4. What happens when we do not speak in his name? Jeremiah 20:9

 

5. If Paul preaches willingly, what does he have; and if he preaches unwillingly, what does he have? 1 Corinthians 9:17

 

6. When preaching the Gospel, how does Paul offer it, and for what reason?  1 Corinthians 9:18

 

7. How did Paul humble himself so that others might be exalted? 2 Corinthians 11:7

 

8. What did Paul do to win over as many as possible? 1 Corinthians 9:19

 

9. What did Jesus say we must do if we wish to become great? Matthew 20:26-27

 

10. What do we preach?  2 Corinthians 4:5

 

11. What does Paul become to the weak, and for what reason? What has he become to all?   1 Corinthians 9:22

 

12. How did Paul come, how was his message proclaimed, and for what reason?    1 Corinthians 2:3-5

 

13. Why does Paul do what he does, and also for what personal reason? 1 Corinthians 9:23

 

Personal – How have you preached the Gospel message to your family, friends, co-workers, or schoolmates?  How has the Lord spoken to you personally about this?

 

 

FOURTH DAY READ MARK 1:29-39 GOSPEL

(“Then the fever left her and she waited on them.”)

1. As Jesus left the synagogue, where did he go, and who was with him?   Mark 1:29

 

2. Who was sick with a fever, and what did they do immediately? Mark 1:30

 

3. When Jesus approached her, what did he grasp, and what did he help her do?  What happened to her, and what did she do? Mark 1:31

 

4. What did Jesus instruct his disciples to do in regard to the sick?   Matthew 10:8

 

5. When it was evening, whom did they bring to Jesus? Mark 1:32

 

6. Who was at the door, and whom did he cure?  What did he drive out of many, and what did he not permit them to do? Mark 1:33-34

 

7. How did Jesus expel the spirits, whom did he cure, and what did this fulfill?    Matthew 8:16-17

 

8. When did Jesus rise, where did he go, and what did he do?  Mark 1:35

 

9. What happened after Jesus was baptized and he was praying? Luke 3:21-22

 

10. What were different occasions when Jesus went off to pray? Matthew 14:1-23, Matthew 26:36, 39

 

11. What did Simon and those who were with him do, and on finding him, what did they say?   Mark 1:36-37

 

12. Where did Jesus invite them to go, and for what purpose had he come?   Mark 1:38

 

13. What did Jesus do in their synagogues?  Mark 1:39

 

14. Whom did Jesus cure?  Matthew 4:23-24

 

Personal – In your life, how have you felt the healing touch of Jesus?  What has been your response to his touch? How have you allowed his Holy Spirit to touch others through you?

 

 

FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 147:1-6

(“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”)

Read and meditate on Psalm 147:1-6

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

JOB 7:1-4, 6-7

The Book of Job raises the same questions today as it did in his time. The question is: “Why does the just man suffer?” In the presence of God’s awesome power, Job remains speechless, simply because man is too weak and ignorant to comprehend the awesomeness of God. God wants man’s humility, not his pride and wisdom. Yet the standard Old Testament teaching at the time of Job was that sin was behind suffering, and virtue was behind happiness.

The story of Job is about a virtuous man who suffers tremendously. We see in Job’s comments a restlessness and frustration, but no denial of belief. As we read further in Job, we see a determination building in a faith that strives to believe in God’s loving concern for him despite all the appearances to the contrary.  Job was struggling and he even saw no hope of going on in his sickly condition, but he did not give up.

Today we are told that all things happen for the good of those who believe (Rom. 8:28), and we believe that in God’s timing, a virtuous person will be happy. Like Job, we need to humbly accept the divine order of God’s plan. In effect, we are a people who do not know the ultimate reason for the existence of suffering. You and I must have that same determination that Job had, and in God’s timing he will work with us, just like he did with Job (1 Peter 5:7).

We see in Job’s story a lesson for all of us, and that is that we will not grow without pain. We are told that suffering brings obedience (Hebrews 5:8) and obedience is the core of love. Jesus endured all of his suffering for us, and in his obedience he went to the cross for us. He then rose from the dead for us, so that all who believe in him would be free in Spirit with him forever.

 

1 CORINTHIANS 9:16-19, 22-23

In today’s reading we see that preaching was Paul’s gift and calling. He tells us that he could not stop preaching even if he wanted to stop. Like the two men on the road to Emmaus, there was a fire burning in Paul’s heart (Luke 24:32). He desired to do what God wanted and he would use his gifts for God’s glory. Have we realized what special gifts God has given us? Are we motivated like Paul? Is there a fire burning within our heart to glorify God with our gifts?

Paul is telling us that he is glad he is not held back by the obligation of being paid a salary. His freedom to preach freely allows him to be the slave of all, so that they may listen and come to Christ. We need to reflect on how much our job dictates how much we will exercise our faith. Are we able and ready to say that no job, no salary, or no peer pressure shall prevent me from preaching and living God’s Holy Word? The goal of Paul was to glorify God and bring people to Christ. Is our goal the same as Paul’s?

Paul shows us that we must be very much aware of where people are and then meet them right there. He does not try to make people be at a certain place before he brings them to Christ. Paul knew who he was and because of this, he was able to meet people on a common ground. We need to know who we are before we can go out to bring others to Christ.

You are the reason Jesus Christ died on the cross at Calvary. He loves you so much that he took all of your sins and had them nailed to the cross with him. He died so you could live forever. He rose so that you would be with him for all eternity. That is who you are, a very precious child of God, and anything else is a distortion. Because you are loved, you are now capable of loving others and bringing others to Christ. Like Paul, let the burning of fire in your heart send you forth to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).

 

MARK 1:29-39

Today’s Gospel shows us the healing power of Jesus toward someone he knew and toward a whole town of people whom he did not know. Jesus touched Peter’s mother-in-law and she immediately became well and got up and began serving them. The impact of this event spread throughout the town and by sunset the area around Peter’s house was filled with the sick and demon-possessed. A large crowd watched while the sick were being healed.

Today Jesus heals as vividly as ever, but somehow it seems to be downplayed in our communities. Many people are afraid to ask Jesus for a healing because they are not sure that he will heal them. The people who flocked to Peter’s house were not afraid what others thought of their religious zeal. They knew that ritual and ceremony did not heal, but this incredible preacher of God did heal.

Today, in this world of high technology and education, there are many who seem to depend more on man’s ability to solve our deep inner emotional, physical and spiritual problems. Yet, the level of hunger, loneliness, disease, divorce, crime and violence seems to be as bad as it was at any other time in civilization.  Like Peter’s mother-in-law, we need to trust in Jesus for our healing, accept it, and go on in life.

We see Jesus getting up long before daybreak to pray alone. He needed his quiet time every morning and so do we. Jesus’ prayer time was the cornerstone of his authority. He was in constant prayer with his Father and from him he drew his strength. From whom do you draw your strength? If it is from people, programs, or religion, you will eventually become drained. We have been blessed to have the presence of Christ in our prayer time, sacraments, worship, Eucharist, and in our church through fellowship. Jesus said that he had to go on to other places to bring his message to the sick and demon-possessed. You are called by your baptism to do the very same thing (Matthew 28:19). You must always remember that prayer is the vital link between us and God. Jesus always took time to pray.

 

Application 

The first reading tells us that suffering is behind virtue as well as sin. The second reading reveals that our gifts and talents come from God. We see in the Gospel the importance of prayer in the life of Jesus.

This week, choose someone in your family or someone you know and become their unknown special prayer partner. Be specific and obedient in your prayer time. Place this person in the throne of the Lord and watch the healing that will take place. Praise God before your requests for healing and praise him afterward. Then get ready to experience God’s mighty power.

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 31st) – Cycle B

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 a 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 DEUTERONOMY 18:15-20 FIRST READING
(” … to him shall you listen.”)

l. What shall the Lord raise up, from where will he come, and what are we to do? Deuteronomy 18:15

 

2. Who is the one whom Moses wrote of in the law and the Prophets? What will happen if we do not listen to him? John 1:45, Acts 3:19-23

 

3. What did God say about his beloved son, and what are the disciples to do? Mark 9:5-8

 

4. What did the Israelites request at Horeb on the day of the assembly and to whom did they say they would listen? Deuteronomy 18:16 Exodus 20:18-21

 

5. The Lord said to Moses I will raise up a ______; what did he say would come out of his mouth, and what shall he tell the people? Deuteronomy 18:17-18

 

6. What will happen if any man will not listen to His words and in whose name must the Prophet speak? Deuteronomy 18:19, Acts 3:23

 

7. What does Jesus say will happen if we ask for anything in his name? John 14:12-14

 

8. Who is the Word? John 1:1, 14

 

9. If a prophet presumes to speak in the name of the Lord an oracle that the Lord has not commanded him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, what will happen to him? Deut. 18:20

 

10. If a prophet arises among us who promises us a sign or wonder, urging us to follow other gods, what are we to do? Deuteronomy 13:2-5

 

11. How will we know the false prophets? Matthew 7:15-20

 

Personal? – To whom have you been listening for counseling in your life? Do those you are listening to come in the name of the Lord?

 

 

THIRD DAY READ 1 CORINTHIANS 7:32-35 SECOND READING
(“I should like you to be free of anxieties.”)

1. Who is writing this book and to whom is he writing? 1 Corinthians 1:1-2

 

2. Of what would he like us to be free? 1 Corinthians 7:32

 

3. What does anxiety do to a man’s heart? Proverbs 12:25

 

4. About what is an unmarried man anxious, about what is a married man anxious, and what does that make him? 1 Corinthians 7:32-34

 

5. In the parable of the Great Feast, what was one of the excuses for not accepting the invitation? Luke 14:20

 

6. What will happen to a house divided against itself? Matthew 12:25

 

7. Who broke down the dividing wall of hostility/enmity? Ephesians 2:13-14

 

8. About what is an unmarried woman or a married woman anxious? 1 Corinthians 7:34

 

9. What did Jesus say happens at the resurrection? Matthew 22:29-30

 

10. Why is Paul telling them about the married and unmarried? 1 Corinthians 7:35

 

11. What does the Lord tell Martha about being anxious and about Mary? Luke 10:39-42

 

Personal? – About what are you anxious right now? If you are married, how can you better budget your time, in order to spend more time with prayer and scripture and include your spouse?

 

 

FOURTH DAY READ MARK 1:21-28 GOSPEL
(“The people were astonished at his teaching.”)

1. When Jesus and his disciples came to Capernaum, what did he do on the Sabbath? Mark 1:21

 

2. What did Jesus do in Galilee and for what purpose did he say he has come? Matthew 4:23 and Mark 1:38-39

 

3. About what were the people astonished, and like whom did he teach? Mark 1:22

 

4. At what were the Jews amazed, where did Jesus say his teaching came from, and who will know whether his teaching is from God or whether he speaks on his own? John 7:15-18

 

5. Who has established the existing authorities? Romans 13:1

 

6. What does the Son of Man have authority to do on Earth? Matthew 9:6-8

 

7. Who was in their synagogue, what did he have, and what did he cry out to Jesus? Mark 1:23-24

 

8. What did Jesus do and say to the man with the unclean spirit? Mark 1:25

 

9. What did the unclean spirit do, and what came out of him? Mark 1:26

 

10. Who was amazed about what, and what did they ask one another? Mark 1:27

 

11. What spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee? Mark 1:28

 

12. What has the grace of God done for us, and how are we to exhort and correct one another? Titus 2:11-15

 

Personal? – How do you respond to authority, both civil and spiritual? Be specific, give some examples. What are the areas in your life that call for you to exercise authority, and how do you exercise that authority?

 

 

FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 95:1-2, 6-9
(“Oh, that today you would hear his voice.”)

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

DEUTERONOMY 18:15-20

Today’s reading shows that the coming of Jesus Christ as the “Messiah” was not an afterthought, but part of God’s original holy plan. The people were afraid to hear God talk or even to see him. They were afraid his presence would be so overpowering, that they all would die. They wanted someone human who could speak for God and so Moses was their prophet. Today we have prophets who proclaim God’s holy Word all over the world and some of the prophets have abused the church, the people, and even God with their sinful conduct. God has called us to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, heal the sick, and visit the imprisoned.

Some of our modern day prophets have taken tremendous amounts of money through television, books, tapes, and special appearances. These false prophets talk about poverty but dress like kings and queens and live in homes that are mansions. The penalty for false prophets was death. Today that penalty is still death, because the wages of sin are death (Romans 6:23).

We hear the Lord telling the prophet to be a man of obedience and the people will listen to him. People respond to the leader who listens and is obedient to God in his own walk of life.

Paul tells us that he only preached the message of the cross, and Moses was told to tell the people that God had given him Ten Commandments for them to follow. To reject the prophet was to reject Christ and the Father would deal severely with anyone who is against his Son. To reject the church as it teaches to us in the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist would be to reject Christ. The Father will deal with us today just as severely as he did with the people of Moses’ time. Remember, you can tell a false prophet by his deeds, not his words.

 

1 CORINTHIANS 7:32-35

In today’s reading, we have to be very careful that we do not think that Paul is against marriage. He is trying to show that marriage calls for a commitment to God, to each other, and to family. Paul tells us that it is easier for unmarried persons to devote themselves more completely to God than for married persons to do so.

Many single people feel tremendous pressure to be married. Many think that their lives can be complete only with a spouse. Paul is saying that an unmarried person has the potential of a greater focus on Christ and his work. If you are unmarried, use your special opportunity to serve Christ wholeheartedly.

Paul is talking about the potential of more time alone with God for the unmarried. Whether you are married or unmarried, the core of your spirituality will be your prayer life with the Lord. This will take time and it has to be prime time, not spare time. There are many books on how to pray, but none of the material makes sense unless you spend time personally alone with the Lord. Spending time reading, meditating on scripture, and then listening to the Lord is what makes the unmarried or married person spiritual. When married men or women have developed a love affair with Jesus on a daily basis, they will find that love affair being carried over into their marriage. When unmarried men or women develop a love affair with Jesus on a daily basis, they will then, like Christ, love the unlovable, kiss the unkissable, wash the unwashable; wherever they go they will bring the gift of love with them, simply because they are loved.

 

MARK 1:21-28

Capernaum was a thriving city with wealth, sin and decadence. This was an ideal place for Jesus to challenge both Jews and non-Jews with the Good News of God’s kingdom. Most Jewish teachers often quoted from other well-known teachers to give their words meaning and authority. Jesus did not do that, because he knew exactly what scripture said and meant. He taught with authority, because he knew the source of his real authority. The people were amazed at the power of his teaching and even when he was confronted by the demon, he ordered him out with total authority. Jesus was in full authority, because he was in full obedience to his Father’s will. His authority was not from the Law, or the scribes; his authority came from doing his Father’s will and being one God with the Father.

Jesus tells us in the story of Martha and Mary that Mary has the best gift and that gift is the art of listening. Jesus could command authority because he listened and respected the authority of his heavenly Father. He wants us to call on his authority whenever we are confronted by evil spirits of evil situations. We can always have access to his authority as long as we are doing the will of his Father.

The Church commands with the authority of Jesus, because of his promise and command in Matthew 16:18-19: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” We can call on that authority in Jesus’ name, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, tell that mountain to go into the sea, cast out demons, heal the sick, or give sight to the blind.

 

Application

This week’s first reading reveals how the prophets listened. The second reading encourages time to be spent with the Lord. The Gospel shows the authority and power in Jesus’ teachings.

This week, listen to those around you and see who is in deep need of spiritual healing. Take time each day to present this person to the Lord, and in Jesus’ name and through the power of his Holy Spirit, seek healing for that person. Jesus’ authority will reach through you and bring a healing physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Stay in the Father’s will by being obedient to Jesus’ command to “Love one another as I love you.” (John 15:12)

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 24th) – Cycle B

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 a 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 JONAH 3:1-5, 10 FIRST READING
(“The Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.”)

l. What came to Jonah a second time, and what did the Lord tell him to do? Jonah 3:1-2

 

2. What was the Word of God that came to Jonah the first time, and why did it come to him a second time? Jonah 1:1-3

 

3. What did Jonah do, where did he go, and whom was he following? Jonah 3:3

 

4. Who are called blessed? Luke 11:28

 

5. How big was Nineveh, and how long did it take to go through it? Jonah 3:3

 

6. What did Jonah do, how far did he get before the people of Nineveh believed God, and what did he announce? Jonah 3:4-5

 

7. When the people of Nineveh believed God, what did they do? Jonah 3:5

 

8. What does God do to those who humble themselves and turn from their evil ways? 2 Chronicles 7:14

 

9. What did God see, of what did God repent, and what did God not do? Jonah 3:10

 

10. What leads us to repentance? Romans 2:4

 

Personal? – In what way have you obeyed or not obeyed the Word of God this past week? What happened to you as a result of your obedience or disobedience? Compare it to the story of Jonah in this study.

 

 

THIRD DAY READ 1 CORINTHIANS 7:29-31 SECOND READING
(“I tell you, brothers, the time is running out.”)

1. What is Paul telling the brothers? 1 Corinthians 7:29

 

2. What does the wise man’s heart know? Ecclesiastes 8:5

 

3. What happened at an acceptable time, and what day is it now? 2 Corinthians 6:2

 

4. How are those with wives to act? 1 Corinthians 7:29

 

5. What happens to those who give up their wife for the kingdom of God? Luke 18:29-30

 

6. What does Paul tell those who are weeping, those who are rejoicing, and those who are buying? 1 Corinthians 7:30

 

7. What are those who make use of the things of this world not to do? 1 Corinthians 7:31

 

8. What is the world in its present form doing? 1 Corinthians 7:31

 

9. What is happening to the world, and who will remain forever? 1 John 2:17

 

10. What will always remain, and why? 1 Corinthians 13:13 and 1 John 4:16

 

Personal? – How much time do you spend on the things of this world, in comparison to time spent loving God and others? What is the world in its present form to you?

 

 

FOURTH DAY READ MARK 1:14-20 GOSPEL
(“Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”)

1. After John had been arrested, what did Jesus come to Galilee proclaiming? Mark 1:14

 

2. What time did Jesus say this was, what was at hand, and what two things must we do? Mark 1:15

 

3. What does sorrow for God’s sake produce? 2 Corinthians 7:9-11

 

4. What was Paul sent to do, and what was that Gospel? 1 Corinthians 1:17-18

 

5. What signs will accompany those who believe? Mark 16:17-18

 

6. What is possible to those who have faith, and what did the boy’s father cry out? Mark 9:23-24

 

Personal? – What signs are coming from you showing the extent of your faith?

 

7. As Jesus passed by the Sea of Galilee, whom did he see, what were they doing, and what were they? Mark 1:16

 

8. Whom did Jesus say to come after, and what would he make them? Mark 1:17

 

9. What did they leave, and whom did they follow? Mark 1:18

 

10. As Jesus walked a little farther, whom did he see? What were they doing, and what did Jesus do? Mark 1:19-20

 

11. What was their response to him? Mark 1:20

 

12. What must we do to follow Jesus, and what will the Father do? John 12:26

 

Personal? – As a believer, how are you like the Apostles, a fisher of men bringing others into the kingdom of God?

 

 

FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 25:4-9
(“He guides the humble to justice.”)

Read and meditate on Psalm 25:4-9.

What is the Lord saying to you personally through the Psalm?

 

How can you apply this to your daily spiritual life?

 

 

SIXTH DAY READ ALL OF THE COMMENTARY

JONAH 3:1-5, 10

Jonah, like many people today and of his time, had ignored God and rebelled against him. Jonah, again like many of us, ran away from God, but also like us, he was given a second chance to participate in God’s work.

When we ignore God, he will discipline us, but he will always offer compassion and forgiveness if we turn from our sins and obey him. We may feel we are no longer able to qualify to serve God because of our past mistakes, but remember, that serving God is not an earned position. There is not one single living person on this earth that qualifies for God’s service. Yet, he asks each of us to be a part of his work. This may be your time for another chance.

Jonah was to preach only what God told him, and that was a message of doom to the most powerful city in the world. He did not want this assignment, but he finally spoke out and did not let society, social pressures, or fear of people dictate his words.

We are called to preach God’s message no matter how unpopular it may be. God’s message, then and today, is for everyone. The people of Nineveh were shocked when they heard God’s message, and they repented immediately. We need to realize that there are many people waiting to hear God’s word proclaimed. We are called to be today’s Jonah. You will be surprised when people confess and repent, just like they did at Nineveh. Remember, it is not the hearing of God’s word that really pleases him, but an obedient response to it.

 

I CORINTHIANS 7:29-31

Paul tells the people that time is short, and their future is determined by their present interests. He is urging all believers to stay free from the trappings of the world and to be available to the Lord. The lesson given here is not to let homes, financial security and even a successful marriage be the ultimate goal of life for all ages. We must be unhindered by the cares of the world. We should not be getting involved with mortgages, budgets, investments or bills that will prevent us from doing God’s work.

Paul tells us that a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities, but he should be careful to keep them modest and manageable. The time of salvation is now, and that means that our primary reason for living is to bring glory to God. The world and all its things will pass away, but we who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ will endure forever (1 John 2:17). We cannot call ourselves believers if our actions do not bear Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). We are called to die to ourselves and become Christ-centered instead of self-centered.

We are to live to serve others instead of waiting for someone to serve us. A Christ-centered person experiences a new meaning of love. Love is giving, not taking. Our spouse will come alive with hope and joy as we become Christ-centered. Our children will come to honor and respect us as we become Christ-centered. To be Christ-centered is to be fully alive. To be self-centered is to be dead. Remember, today is the time of salvation and that means being Christ-centered.

 

MARK 1:14-20

Jesus proclaimed the Good News to those in Galilee, and this Good News would change the world forever. His words were Good News because they offered freedom, blessings and promise. At last the long-awaited Messiah had come to begin God’s personal reign on earth.

Do we really believe that the reign of God is at hand? Do we believe that God is present now and observes and allows pain, sickness and death to innocent people all over the earth? We need to take this message really into our heart, because the core of this message is that he is with us and he will never leave us, no matter how difficult the situation may be. The next part of that message was very uncomfortable for many people then and continues to be uncomfortable for many people today. To reform means to change and to change means to give up our power. People who want to change are people who are hurting, whether physically, emotionally, or even spiritually.

Jesus tells us to believe in the Gospel and that means to repent. Most of the people who heard this message were oppressed, poor and without hope. They were thrilled that their Messiah was at last present in their lives. Today many people are still oppressed, poor and without hope and the reign of God is still at hand. The message to reform and believe in the Gospel is a message from a God of love and justice. He will forgive all those who come forth in Godly sorrow because that sorrow leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-10). He hates sin and will not look the other way while one is sinning because he is a just God.

Let each one of us look into our heart and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your child.” (Luke 15:18-19) Remember, God’s love is constant and waiting. He will search for us and give us chances to respond, but he will not force us to come into his kingdom.

 

Application

In the first reading we are called to preach God’s message no matter how unpopular it may be. The second reading reveals that the time of salvation is now and we are called to be Christ centered instead of self centered. The Gospel shows us that to believe is to repent, and to repent is to become free.

This week, look around in your family, school, and work and see where you may need to repent. An oppressed, lonely, and helpless one may be someone who is very close to you. Ask God to reveal to you where you need to repent, and then go to that person in faith and ask his or her forgiveness.

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 17th) – Cycle B

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 1 SAMUEL 3:3-10, 19 FIRST READING

(“Speak, for you servant is listening.”)

l. Who was sleeping in the temple of the Lord, and what was there?  1 Samuel 3:3

 

2. Who is Samuel, and what did his mother do?  1 Samuel 1:19-20, 27-28

 

3. Of what was the ark made, and what was in it? Deuteronomy 10:3-5.

 

4. Who called Samuel, and what was his response? 1 Samuel 3:4

 

5. To whom did he run, and what did he tell him to do? 1 Samuel 3:5-6.

 

6. What was Eli?   1 Samuel 1:9.

 

7. With whom was Samuel not familiar and for what reason? 1 Samuel 3:7.

 

8. Who reveals even the depths of God to us? 1 Corinthians 2:10-12.

 

9. How many times did the Lord call Samuel, and what did Eli understand?  1 Samuel 3:8.

 

10. What did Eli tell Samuel to do?  What did the Lord reveal, and what did Samuel answer?  1 Samuel 3: 9-10.

 

11. To whom are we to listen?  Mark 9:7-8.

 

12. What happened to Samuel, and what did the Lord not permit? 1 Samuel 3:19.

 

Personal – How has the Lord revealed himself to you?  In what way has your priest helped you distinguish the voice of the Lord?

 

 

THIRD DAY READ 1 CORINTHIANS 6:13-15, 17-20 SECOND READING

(“Glorify God in your body.”)

1. With what will the Lord do away, for what is the body not to be used, and for whom is the body? 1 Corinthians 6:13.

 

2. What will food not do? 1 Corinthians 8:8.

 

Personal – In what way has food affected your body?

 

3. What did God do, and what will he do? 1 Corinthians 6:14

 

4. What way is the body sown before and after the resurrection of the dead?   1 Corinthians 15:42-44

 

5. Of whom are our bodies members, and of whom shall I then take these members and of whom make them members? 1 Corinthians 6:15

 

6. To what are we not to present the parts of our bodies, and for what reasons?   Romans 6:13

 

7. What happens to whoever is joined to the Lord? 1 Corinthians 6:17

 

8. What are we to avoid, where is every other sin committed, and against what does the immoral person commit a sin? 1 Corinthians 6:18.

 

9. What do we know about our body?  1 Corinthians 6:19

 

10. Who does not belong to God?   Romans 8:9

 

11. What is our eager expectation and hope for our body? Philippians 1:20

 

12. How have we been purchased, and what must we do with our body?  1 Corinthians 6:20

 

Personal – How have I not glorified God in my body, and what changes do I need to make in order to glorify God in my body?

 

 

FOURTH DAY READ JOHN 1:35-42 GOSPEL

(“We have found the Messiah.”)

1. Who was with John, who did they watch walk by, and what did John say?  John 1:35-36

 

2. Why are we to be watchful and alert?   Mark 13:32-33

 

3. When the two disciples heard what John said, what did they do?  John 1:37

 

4. If anyone wishes to come after Jesus, what must he do daily?  Luke 9:23

 

5. When Jesus turned and saw them following him, what did he ask them, what did they ask him?  John 1:38

 

6. What does “Rabbi” mean and who instructs us in everything and reminds us of all that Jesus told us? John 1:38, John 14:26

 

7. When Jesus said “come,” what would happen; what did happen and what did they do?  John 1:39 8. Who heard John; who followed Jesus and what did he tell his own brother Simon?  John 1:40-41

 

Personal  Have you found the Messiah and if so, how did you find him?  Did someone lead you to him or did he speak to you directly?

 

9. As  what is Messiah translated, and what did Andrew do with his brother?  John 1:41-42

 

10. What was Jesus anointed to do?   Luke 4:18-19

 

11. What will those who lead many to justice be like? Daniel 12:3

 

12. When Jesus looked at Simon, what did he say about his name? John 1:42

 

Personal In what way have you experienced Jesus saying to you, “Come and you will see.”  What did you learn when you stayed with him that day, and whom did you bring with you?

 

 

FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 40:2, 4, 7-10

(“…ears open to obedience you gave me”)     

Read and meditate on Psalm 40:2, 4, 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

1 SAMUEL 3:3-10, 19

The Ark of the Covenant was kept in the holy of holies.  Samuel probably slept only a few yards away from the Ark, with the other priests.  One would naturally expect a message from God to be given to the priest, Eli, and not the youth, Samuel.  Eli held the proper position and he was older and more experienced.  But God’s chain of command is based on faith.  His view of authority is not based on age or title.

God may decide to use an unexpected channel to communicate with us.  We need to  be prepared always for the Lord to speak or work at any place, at any time and through anyone he chooses.  This was an era when God still gave direct and audible messages to his people.  Today some people refuse to listen to God, or they will allow greed to get in the way of any communication with him.  You must be absolutely convinced that listening and responding are vital in relationship with God.  God may not always use the sound of a human voice; he speaks just as clearly today through his Word.  Be ready to listen  and to act upon what he tells you.  Like Samuel, be ready to say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”

The sounds of today’s world want to blot out the sound of God’s calling voice.  Listen, listen, listen.  By disciplining yourself to quiet time alone every morning with the Lord, you can prepare to hear God calling you in your daily prayer time, daily scripture, and study time.  In a very short time your discipline will turn into delight.

 

1 CORINTHIANS 6: 13-15, 17-20            

Many of the world’s religions think the soul is very important and the body is not.  Christianity sometimes seems to be influenced by them. However, Christianity is a very physical religion.  We believe in a God who created a physical world and called it good.  The core of our faith is God himself taking on flesh and blood and coming to live with us (John 1:14).  We must remember that like Adam we are a combination of dust and spirit.  We cannot commit sin with our bodies without affecting our souls.

Freedom is a mark of the Christian faith.  Christ has freed us from the grasp of Satan.  We should not abuse that freedom through abuse of drugs, excessive drinking, and gluttony.  We need to be very careful that what God has allowed us to use, does not grow into a bad habit that controls us.  Paul really addresses the sins of the body as a temptation that we cannot escape.  In movies, television, books or magazines, sex outside of marriage is treated as normal, desirable, part of life, while marriage is often shown as confining and joyless.  God does not forbid sexual sin just to be difficult.  He knows its power to destroy us physically and spiritually.  Sexual sin has devastated countless lives and destroyed families, communities and even nations.  Paul clearly states in today’s reading and the Church today also agrees that Christians are to have no part in sexual sin, even if it is acceptable and popular in our culture.  We must never forget that a sin against our body is a sin against the Holy Spirit, because by our Baptism we have become temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19).  The sexual sins of homosexuality, fornication, prostitution and adultery are sins against the home of the Holy Spirit.

Remember that God has bought you with a great price, so use every part of your body to give glory back to God, because he owns it (1 Cor. 6:20).  If you are caught up in the turmoil of sexual sin, take a moment right now and ask God to forgive you of your sins.  Then go to a priest and receive the healing of being reconciled with God and community.  Live God’s way one day at a time, and he will show you what to do.  Jesus loves you too much to let you stay where you are.          

 

JOHN 1:35-42

John the Baptist’s job was to point people to Jesus,  the Messiah,  for whom they were looking.  Today people all over the world are looking for security and peace in an insecure world.  Our job is to point them to Christ and to show them that he is the one they seek.

When Jesus walked by, John was with his two disciples  and said, “There is the Lamb of God.”  The two disciples began to follow Jesus, and he said to them, “What do you want?”  That is being asked of us today by both Jesus and the world.  Jesus said, “Come and see” and the world says the same.  Jesus offers life and freedom, the world offers death and destruction.

The disciples knew and appreciated Jesus more and more as they began to spend time with him.  Jesus tells them that if they really want to follow him, they will have to take up their cross each day and follow in his footsteps.  They had no idea then that those footsteps led to Calvary.  We are called to do the same and his footsteps may lead us into rejection, ridicule, and possibly even the loss of our physical life.  We must always remember that when we choose to follow him, we choose to die to ourselves and live for others.

Andrew was so impressed with Jesus, that he ran home and told his brother Peter, “We have found the Messiah.”  What confidence and hope Andrew had as he led his brother Peter to Jesus.  That is what we are being called today to do.  Lead others to Jesus and show by your life that the conversion to Jesus is life-changing.  Today’s Gospel is about the joy, excitement and power of discovering the Messiah.  We are called to spread that joy and excitement to all whom we meet.

We eagerly carry our cross each day and follow him because he carries it for us and he is leading us to eternal freedom.        

 

Application     

In the first reading, we hear God calling his servant.  In the second reading, Paul tells us that sexual sin is sin against the Temple of the Holy Spirit.  The Gospel shows us that we are to go out and point to Jesus.

This week spend time each day alone and listen to what God is saying to you.  Ask someone in your family to do the same thing.  Meet every day and share what the Lord is saying to you.  Remember, you cannot bring anyone to Jesus if you do not know how to listen to his instructions.    

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (January 10th) – Cycle B

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 ISAIAH 42:1-4, 6-7 FIRST READING

(“Here is my servant whom I uphold.”)

l. Fill in the blanks in the following scripture:

“Here is my __________ whom I uphold, my __________ ______ with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my ___________; he shall bring forth _____________ to the nations” Is. 42:1

 

2. To whom do the following scriptures refer?

Luke 1:38, 48 _________________, John 12:26 _______________,

Acts 3:13 __________________, Acts 4:29-30 _______________.

 

Personal – Do you see yourself as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ in your home or at work? Share how you are servant of Christ.

 

3. Who are the chosen ones? Read the following scriptures:

1 Chronicles 16:13 ___________, Tobit 13:11 _______________, Psalm 89:3-4 __________________, Psalm 106:23 _______________,  Ephesians 1:3-5 __________________.

 

Personal – Do you feel you are among the chosen ones of God?

 

4. In the following scriptures, who are receiving the Spirit or have the Spirit of God working through them? 2 Samuel 23:1-2 ____________, Matthew 3:16 ______________, John 20:19-22 ______________, Acts 8:14-19 _______________.

 

Personal – Do you have the power of the Holy Spirit working in your life?  If not, read Matthew 7:7-8 and see what you must do to receive this power.

 

5. In the following scriptures, who brings forth justice to the nations?

Deuteronomy 10:17-18 ______________________________, Psalm 9:8-9 _______________, Acts 17:31 ___________________.

 

6. In what way was this prophecy in Isaiah 42:1-4 fulfilled? Matthew 12:16-21

 

7. Whom has God grasped by the hand, formed, and set as a covenant of the people?  Isaiah 42:6

 

8. Whom has he made a light to the nations, and what are we to do?  Isaiah 42:6-7

 

Personal – Are you a light to others? Do those in your family, your work and your environment see the love of Christ shining out of you?  If you are yielding to the Spirit of God dwelling in you, others will see the light.

 

 

THIRD DAY READ ACTS 10:34-38 SECOND READING

(“I begin to see how true it is that God shows no partiality.”)

1. Who was addressing the people, and what did he say? Acts 10:34

 

2. In the following scriptures, what does God’s Word say about showing partiality?

Leviticus 19:15 __________________________, 2 Chronicles 19:7 ___________________________, Wisdom 6:7 ________________________________.

 

3. What must we do to become acceptable to God?   Acts 10:35

 

4. What does it mean to fear God?  Daniel 6:27, Isaiah 8:13 and Malachi 2:5

 

5. Through whom is the good news proclaimed, and who is the Lord of all? Acts 10:36

 

6. What was reported all over Judea about Jesus, and where did it begin?   Acts 10:37-38

 

7. What was the baptism John preached?  Matthew 3:11 Acts 19:4

 

8. Who anointed Jesus, and with what? Acts 10:38

 

9. Did God intend for us to be anointed with the Holy Spirit? John 14:14-17

 

10. What is one of the functions of the Holy Spirit? John 14:25-26

 

11. What did Jesus go about doing, and who was with him? Acts 10:38

 

Personal – When you receive the Holy Spirit, do you also receive the power to go about doing good works and healing as Jesus did? Is this evident in your life?

 

 

FOURTH DAY READ MARK 1:7-11 GOSPEL

(“…He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit.”)       

1. What did John the Baptist proclaim about the One who was coming after him?   Mark 1:7

 

2. Where do we draw our strength?   Ephesians 6:10

 

3. What did John say he was not worthy to do?   Mark 1:7

 

4. What are we to do under the mighty hand of God? 1 Peter 5:6

 

5. With what was John baptizing, and with what would the one to come baptize?   Mark 1:8

 

6. For what is the water used by John in baptism, and what are the two things that result?  Matthew 3:11

 

7. What did Jesus come to do?   Luke 12:49

 

Personal – Has a fire been burning within you? When did it begin?

 

8. Where had Jesus been, and what happened in the Jordan River?    Mark 1:9

 

9. On coming out of the water, what did John see? Mark 1:10  John 1:32

 

10. What came from the heavens, and what did he say?  Mark 1:11

 

11. Who are the children of God?   Romans 8:14

 

Personal – In what way have you become one of God’s children? Can you hear him saying to you, “This is my child in whom I am well pleased”?

 

 

FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 29:1-4, 9-10

(“Give to the Lord the glory due his name.”)

Read and meditate on Psalm 29:1-4, 9-10.

What is the Lord saying to you personally through the Psalm?

 

How can you apply this to your life?

 

 

SIXTH DAY READ ALL OF THE COMMENTARY

ISAIAH 42:1-4, 6-7

This week’s reading from Isaiah comes from a section sometimes called Second Isaiah (Chapters 40-55) and is generally considered to have been written by an unknown poet who prophesied near the end of the Babylonian exile.  In 586 B.C. the city of Jerusalem fell, the walls and palaces were destroyed and the sacred temple burned. King Zedikiah and the rest of the population were marched to Babylon in chains.

From these chapters come the great messianic oracles known as the Song of the Servant. In each song a different viewpoint of the mysterious “servant” is given.

Isaiah is calling upon a figure who represents Israel and yet still addresses her. The “servant” is both a single individual and a nation as a collective individual. He talks about the qualities of the past, and he makes his “servant” very much a key figure of the future.

Isaiah points out that the servant’s role is not limited to Israel, but would become universal. He saw his people in chains and exiled to Babylonia, which was one thousand miles away from Judah. The need for a messiah was of great importance, and the hope of being restored to their lost homeland was in great danger of being completely demolished. The “servant” is being described as different from other leaders, not relying on military might or upon treaties with other nations. He will not be a victorious warrior or king, nor like other prophets shouting out their warnings. What the servant is will speak much louder than his words. The servant will be empowered by the same “Spirit” that rushed upon David when he was anointed king by Samuel (1 Sam. 16:13). Isaiah exhorts the people to look to the servant as God’s chosen one.  The servant’s destiny of suffering and glorification is fulfilled in the passion and glorification of Jesus Christ.

 

ACTS 10:34-38

In this passage, Peter is preaching to the crowd that God shows absolutely no partiality. We see this truth being reaffirmed constantly in the Old Testament. The Lord shows no partiality, nor does he fear the famous or powerful (Lev. 19:15 and Wis. 6:7).  God will have no part of activity like that. Peter challenges his listeners to fear the Lord and act upright, which means to be in reverence and awe of the Lord and to follow his commandments. We are told that fear of the Lord is to hate evil (Prov. 8:13).

Peter tells the crowd that God has sent to all the people of Israel a Messiah, in whom he baptizes people in the power of the Holy Spirit. He preached that Jesus is Lord of all, a message that still is being presented today to a waiting, hungry world. The Good News began when John baptized people in the name of repentance. Jesus was baptized by God in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We have been anointed with the same power and Spirit as Jesus. Jesus went forth doing good works and healing the sick. Peter’s message is very much alive today as we see in our newspapers and television how bribes, fear of the powerful, and partiality to favored people can be very destructive to our society.

We are called to go forth in the power of the same Spirit and do good works and heal the sick in the name of Jesus (Acts 1:8). Jesus wants us to carry on through word and sacrament (Baptism and Confirmation), and to be witnesses to the world that he is alive here and now.

 

MARK 1:7-11

Today’s Gospel message speaks of great humility in John the Baptist. He was regarded as the first genuine prophet in 400 years. John would disappear very suddenly and shockingly as well, while Jesus the Messiah would go on to infinite greatness. John, who was very well known at the time, was pointing out how insignificant he was compared to the one who was coming. John states that he was not even worthy to untie the sandals of the coming Messiah. What John began with his ministry, Jesus finished. What John prepared, Jesus fulfilled. John’s baptism with water prepared them to receive Christ’s message and demonstrated a humility and a desire to turn away from sin. This was the beginning of the journey back to the kingdom of God.

When we received our baptism of the Holy Spirit, our whole being was transformed by the Spirit’s power. This kind of baptism is the result of the completed work of Christ. Jesus did not need to be baptized, because he was sinless. He deliberately chose to be baptized (1) to bring the message of salvation to all people, (2) to show that he was God’s Son and his mission was approved by his Father, (3) to begin officially his public ministry, (4) to identify with all our humanness and sinfulness, and last, but not least, (5) to give us an example to follow.

Today’s passage gives us a tremendous view of all three persons of the Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are that living temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20), and our baptism has called us to lead others out of the darkness and into the light of Christ. We have received power (Acts 1:8), and we are commanded to be full of the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). Like John, we are called to be humble and still be bold. Baptism is an ongoing commitment that calls us every day of our life. It is not a one-time ritual ceremony; rather it is a life-changing, everyday encounter with the world through the eyes and mind of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist died for his faith. Jesus died for all people, and we are called to die to ourselves, repent and believe in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38, 39).

 

Application 

The first reading reveals to us that the Messiah is to be a “servant”.  The second reading reveals that God has no favorites. In the Gospel, God speaks to us, even today, with his voice from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.”

This week be a servant to your family, a friend or someone in the community who is sick.  Be available, be specific, be consistent, and be ready to see the joy of Christ in their eyes as you live what you believe. Let the joy of the Father be reflected in the way you love others.  “You are his beloved child, and he is well pleased with you.”

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (January 3rd) – Cycle B

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 ISAIAH 60:1-6 FIRST READING

(“But upon you the Lord shines.”)

l. To what are the Israelites being called, whose light has come, and what shines upon the Israelites?   Isaiah 60:1

 

2. How did the glory of the Lord appear in the following scriptures?

Exodus 16:7, 10

Exodus 24:16, 17

Leviticus 9:6, 23, 24

Ezekiel 3:12-13

Luke 2:9

 

Personal – In your life, in what way has “the glory of the Lord” appeared to you?

 

3. What covers the earth and the unbelievers?   Isaiah 60:2

 

4. Upon whom does the Lord shine, and what appears over them? Isaiah 60:2

 

5. Fill in the blank: Nations shall walk by your _____________ and kings by your shining radiance.   Isaiah 60:3

 

6. Who is the light?   John 8:12

 

7. Why must we raise our eyes, and who comes to the light?    Isaiah 60:4

 

8. Who shall be radiant, whose heart shall overflow, and what will happen to the sea and the nations?   Isaiah 60:5

 

9. What will the camels do, and from where will they come? Isaiah 60:6

 

10. What shall they bear, and what will they be proclaiming? Isaiah 60:6

 

Personal – In what way is the light of Christ shining through you in your family, your work, and your environment? Are people drawn to you because they see that light within you?

 

 

THIRD DAY READ EPHESIANS 3:2-3, 5-6 SECOND READING

(“In Christ Jesus the Gentiles are now co-heirs with the Jews.”)

1. Who heard of the ministry which God gave Paul, and for whose regard?  Ephesians 3:2, Ephesians 2:11

 

2. What was revealed?   Ephesians 3:3

 

3. What was unknown to men in former ages?   Ephesians 3:4-5

 

4. Who has revealed this mystery, and to whom was this mystery revealed?   Ephesians 3:5

 

5. Read the following scriptures:  John 14:26, Acts 11:12, 1 Corinthians 2:13

 

Personal – Do you listen each day for the Holy Spirit’s instructions for you? What has he taught you as you have been reading his word? Remember to pray before you read God’s word, asking the Holy Spirit to teach you and give you wisdom, knowledge, and obedience to follow his plan for your life.

 

6. Who were some of the holy apostles and prophets, and by whom were they sent?Isaiah 1:1, Jeremiah 1:1, John 1:35-50, Romans 1:1

 

7. What is the mystery revealed?   Ephesians 3:6-8

 

8. How do the Gentiles and the Jews become co-heirs? Ephesians 3:6

 

9. Whom has God commissioned to preach the Gospel? Ephesians 3:6 Matthew 28:18-20

 

Personal – In what way have you ever felt called to teach or share God’s Word with others? A good beginning is to share with your spouse, children or a close friend how the Lord has touched you in his Word or from the homily on Sunday.

 

 

FOURTH DAY READ MATTHEW 2:1-12 GOSPEL

(“They prostrated themselves and did him homage.”)

1. Where was Jesus born, who was king at that time, and who arrived from the east? Matthew 2:1

 

2. Read the following scriptures: Daniel 2:27 and Daniel 4:4. According to these verses, are those who read the stars able to know God’s plan for their lives?

 

3. Who is the only sign we follow? Isaiah 7:14 Luke 11:30

 

4. For whom were the astrologers searching, and what did they observe? Matthew 2:2

 

5. How did King Herod react, and who reacted along with him? Matthew 2:3

 

6. Whom did King Herod summon, and what did he inquire of them? Matthew 2:4

7. What did the chief priest and scribes tell Herod, and to what prophet were they referring?  Matthew 2:5, Micah 1:1 5:1

 

8. What is the ruler to do?   Matthew 2:6

 

9. Read the following and write out your favorite verse: John 10:11, John 10:14, John 10:16, Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 2:25, 1 Peter 5:3-4, Revelation 7:17

 

Personal – Share the scripture you chose and tell how it has affected your life.

 

10. What did King Herod find out from the astrologers? Matthew 2:7

 

11. Where did he send them, and what were his instructions to them? Matthew 2:8

 

12. What was the astrologer’s reaction to the star as they followed it? Matthew 2:10

 

Personal – Have you had any insight to God’s light in his Word? What is your reaction to this?

 

13. When the astrologers found the child with his mother, Mary, what did they do? Is this in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesy? Matthew 2:11, Isaiah 60:5-6

 

Personal – Have you bowed before the Lord? How have you prostrated yourself in homage before our Holy God? In his presence in the Eucharist, have you knelt to do him homage, or do you do it just out of habit? Reflect on this.

 

 

FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 72:1-13

(“For he shall rescue the poor man when he cries out.”)

Read and meditate on Psalm 72:1-13.

What is the Lord saying to you personally through the Psalm?

 

How can you apply this to your daily spiritual life?

 

 

SIXTH DAY READ ALL THE COMMENTARY

ISAIAH 60:1-6

This week’s reading from Isaiah comes from a section sometimes called Third Isaiah (Chapters 55-66), and is generally considered to be written by an unknown poet. The time of this passage is about 535 B.C. and it prophesies the role of the temple and offers to open its doors to all other nations. The invitation was given to the whole world to join the ranks of Israel as the Lord’s chosen people.

Isaiah is calling on the people to rise up in the splendor and radiance of the Lord (verse 1). He tells them that the glory of the Lord shines in them and through them (verse 3). He urges them to be confident in that love and they will become leaders of all nations and many from all nations will be drawn to them (verses 4-5).

Today we are being called to rise up and become symbols of light and hope. We are called to be a light to a world that is covered with much darkness. We can be a light to the world only as long as we walk in the light of Christ. Each one of us is called by the Psalmist (Psalm 119:105) to be a light unto each other’s path. We are being called today, as in the time of Isaiah, to let the glory of God’s light shine through all of us.

 

EPHESIANS 3:2-3,5-6

Paul wrote this letter while in prison awaiting trial before Nero. He reflects on his mission to the Gentiles (those who do not believe in the Jewish faith), and he speaks about his own conversion as being a great mystery of Christ.

Paul was on a journey to Damascus to persecute disciples of the Lord when suddenly a light flashed around him that seemed to come from heaven. He was challenged by the Lord to stop persecuting him and to come follow him. Paul did and his whole life changed. He uses that conversion experience to bring others to the Lord (Acts 9:3-9). He claimed his place as an apostle because he was an eyewitness to the Lord during his “metanoia” or conversion experience.

Paul gained a deeper understanding of God’s plan of salvation through Christ. He reveals to us in this letter that into his life had come the great secret of God. That secret was that the love and mercy and grace of God were meant not for the Jews alone, but for all mankind. When Paul met Christ on the road to Damascus there was a sudden flash of revelation that affected his whole life. That “metanoia” is open to all of us, and we are being called to bring to the world that same message. It was to the Gentiles that God sent Paul, to open their eyes that they might turn from darkness to light. We hear Paul stating very boldly that God’s love and mercy are given to all, Jews and Gentiles alike.

 

MATTHEW 2:1-12

We celebrate the feast of Epiphany, which means the visitation of the seekers or as they are often called, the Magi, and Christ’s manifestation of his glory to them. It was in Bethlehem, a little town six miles south of Jerusalem, that Jesus was born.

The name Bethlehem means “house of bread,” and the manger in which Jesus slept was used to feed the animals. It is significant that Jesus was born in a place called “house of bread,” as he chose to feed us with his Word and in his presence in the Eucharist. He calls himself “Living Bread,” in John 6:35-66, and we share his living bread in our liturgies in accordance with scripture (Luke 22:14-20), in churches throughout the world.

Bethlehem was where Jacob buried Rachel (Genesis 48:7) and it was there that Ruth married Boaz (Ruth 4:13). This city was the home of David (1 Sam. 16:1, 17:12, 20:6) and it was in Bethlehem that the Jews expected God’s Anointed One to come into the world (Micah 5:1-2). When Jesus was born, there came to Bethlehem seekers from the east to do him homage. The Magi were holy and wise men and were skilled in philosophy, medicine, natural sciences, soothsaying, and interpretation of dreams. Many later became members of a tribe of pagan priests in Persia and functioned much like the Levite priests in Israel.

About the same time that Jesus was born, the Roman poet, Virgil, was praising through his writings and poems the “savior of the world,” the emperor, Augustus Caesar of Rome. So it was to a waiting world that Jesus came and the astrologers from lands far away gathered at his cradle. It was the first sign and symbol of the world’s conquest by Jesus Christ.

Today many of the learned men and women are coming to praise the King of Kings, Jesus; but many are not. What about you? Is Jesus your King and are you bringing him your presence as a gift? We need to reflect on the gift given to all who believe in the Christ Child of Bethlehem. The gift is being co-heirs of his kingdom, members of the one body and sharers of the promise. Have we made someone feel like an unwanted stranger? Have we dared label anyone a foreigner, alien, outsider, or pagan? Have we welcomed all to our “manger scene?” Is the light in our hearts drawing others to him, as the star did in Bethlehem? The manifestation of the star’s brilliance spoke to the Magi of the entry of a King into the world. The glory of God’s love for all is called to be manifested in us through the power of the Holy Spirit and in the saving name of Jesus Christ.

 

Application

Isaiah urges us to look at the glory of God being unfolded before us, and calls upon the people to rise up from the shackles of captivity. In Ephesians Paul describes God’s secret plan, and in Matthew we see the wise men overjoyed at the results of following the star.

This week, like the wise men or Magi, let us bring Jesus our gift. Yours might be a gift of joy or love, peace or patience, etc. Then you need to share this gift with someone in your family or work place. The wise men came in humility and left encouraged and full of hope. We can expect no less, when we bring Jesus our gift.

Solemnity of the Holy Family (December 27th) – Cycle B

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 3:2-6, 12-14 FIRST READING

(“He who honors his father atones for sins.”)

l. Where does the Lord place a father over his children, and what does he confirm over sons? Sirach 3:2

 

2. What happens to one who honors his father? Sirach 3:3

 

3. What do we store up when we revere our mother? Sirach 3:4

 

4. By what is the man gladdened who honors his father, and what happens when he prays? Sirach 3:5

 

5. What will happen to him who reveres his father? Sirach 3:6, Exodus 20:12

 

6. What does one do who brings comfort to his mother? Sirach 3:6

 

7. What are we to do, and what are we not to do when our father gets old? Sirach 3:12

 

8. To whom are we to listen, for what reason, and whom are we not to despise? Proverbs 23:22

 

9. How are we to treat our father, even if his mind fails? Sirach 3:13

 

10. What will not be forgotten, and as what will it serve? Sirach 3:14

 

Personal – In what ways do you listen to and honor both your earthly father and your heavenly Father? 

 

 

THIRD DAY READ COLOSSIANS 3:12-21 SECOND READING

(“You children, obey your parents in everything as the acceptable way in the Lord.”)

1. With what five things are we to clothe ourselves, and for what reason? Colossians 3:12

 

2. What are these five qualities called, according to Galatians 5:22?

 

3. What are we to do with one another, and what are we to do over any grievance we may have for another? Colossians 3:13

 

4. Why are we to forgive? Colossians 3:13

 

5. What did Jesus say as he was dying on the cross, and to whom was he speaking? Luke 23:34

 

6. In the Lord’s Prayer, what are we saying and what is the Father saying? Matthew 6:12-15

 

Personal – How have you sinned and received the forgiveness of God? In what way is that reflected by your forgiveness of others when they have hurt you?

 

7. What virtue do we put on over all the rest? Colossians 3:14

 

8. What must reign in our hearts, of what are we members, to what are we called, and to what must we dedicate ourselves? Colossians 3:15

 

9. What must dwell in us, how are we to treat one another, and how are we to sing gratefully to God? Colossians 3:16

 

10. Whatever we do, in speech or action, in whose name are we to do it, and to whom are we to give thanks? Colossians 3:17

 

11. How are wives to act toward their husbands, and how are husbands to act toward their wives? Colossians 3:18-19

 

12. How are children to act toward their parents, and how are fathers to act toward their children? Colossians 3:20-21

 

Personal – What do you think causes the most break-ups in the family today?  How do you think this can be remedied? In what ways are you obeying or disobeying what God says in Colossians 3:18-21.

 

 

FOURTH DAY READ LUKE 2:22-40 GOSPEL

(“The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.”)     

1. What was done according to the law of Moses, what is written in the law, and what did Mary and Joseph offer in sacrifice? Luke 2:22-24, Leviticus 12:2-6, 8, Exodus 13:2

 

2. What did Jesus say is the greatest commandment of the law? Matthew 22:37-38

 

3. Who was in Jerusalem at the time, what was he like, for what was he waiting, and who was upon him? Luke 2:25

 

4. What was revealed to the man by the Holy Spirit, who inspired him to come to the temple, and what did he do when the parents brought in the child Jesus? Luke 2:26-28

 

Personal – Simeon blessed God in his words. In what ways can you bless God in your words?

 

5. What did Simeon call the Lord, what did he say he had done, and what did he say his eyes had witnessed? Luke 2:29-32

 

6. How do we fulfill the law? Romans 13:8

 

7. As Mary and Joseph were marveling over what was being said, what did Simeon do and say to them? Luke 2:33-35

 

8. What did Jesus come into the world to do? John 9:39

 

9. Where was Mary when Jesus was crucified? John 19:25

 

10. For what reason was Mary pierced with a sword? Luke 2:35

 

11. What is the sword of the Spirit? Ephesians 6:17

 

12. Who was a certain prophetess, how old was she, where could she constantly be found, and what was she doing? Luke 2:36-37

 

13. What did the prophetess do both day and night, what did she give to God, about whom did she talk, and to whom? Luke 2:37-38

 

14. After Mary and Joseph fulfilled the law, where did they go? In what did the child grow, with what was he filled, and what was upon him? Luke 2:39-40

 

15. What was Jesus called? Matthew 2:23

 

16. Where do we receive our strength? Philippians 4:13

 

Personal – In what ways have you been pierced with a sword? What does it mean to you to be pierced with a sword as Jesus and Mary were pierced?  

 

 

FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 128:1-5

(“Happy are you who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways!”)

Read and meditate on Psalm 128:1-5.

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 3:2-6, 12-14

Sirach was a pious and learned Jew who lived in the second century B.C. He wrote a collection of sayings to help others live their lives in accordance with God’s Holy Word. In today’s passage he speaks of family. He shows us that the family unit has been honored as the foundation of the human race.

The foundation of the family was traditionally the father, and he had the place of honor. The father was given the right to be respected and obeyed by his family. We see the mother also shares the authority with the father in the home. The authority of both parents, in accordance with God’s Word, is to be respected by the children.

This passage applies very strongly to today’s families because the family structure is under a severe attack by Satan. Children who respect their parents are not only doing God’s will, but also are storing up spiritual rewards for themselves. Over the centuries it has been shown that children who respect their parents generally have children who will respect their parents.

We see that prayer is very important for a family’s growth and that all prayer is answered. The call to love, honor, and respect your parents carries with it the reward of your children’s care for you in your old age.  With love and respect, a long life thus becomes a sign of God’s blessing for those who follow his commands.

Children are called to give their aging parents loving care. The child who has learned to respect his parents is respecting God. No matter how feeble, mentally or physically, one’s parents may become, it is the children’s responsibility to care for them. This is not some social health care program’s slogan; this is in accordance with God’s Holy Word. God wants love, kindness, respect, honor, sacrifice, comfort, safety, etc.

COLOSSIANS 3:12-21

Paul wrote this letter while imprisoned in Rome. He was told by a follower, named Epaphras, that recent converts to the Christian faith were being disturbed by false teachers. Paul’s letter spells out some very practical rules for the Christians; to clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience. Paul is telling them that these virtues must be secure in their hearts in order for the community to live out the Christian vision.

Forgiveness is a main virtue of a Christian. This is what separates us from the non-believers. God wiped out all our sins in Baptism and is constantly waiting to wash away the sins of a repentant sinner in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We also must imitate God and be willing to forgive a repentant brother or sister. Paul again shows Christ as the head of the body and the source of unity, harmony and peace. We hear that it is not enough to know the doctrines of Christ, but we must live Christ’s life, and our lives must be witnesses of good and bearing fruit.

Today, as then, we are called to help each member of the family of God. Paul deals with the family by telling the husband to “love your wife,” and wives to be subject to the spiritual authority of the husband. Children are called to obey their parents. This may sound common today, but in Paul’s time, wives had few rights and were often considered to be the property of the husband. Paul’s call to “love your wife” brings her into equality and a full sharing in the authority of the family. Paul also tells fathers not to provoke their children. The authority of a father comes from God, and this authority is to lead, to love, and to serve his family. A loving father leads his children by serving them in the name of the Lord.  A loving father puts on the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:2-5).

LUKE 2:22-40

Today’s gospel is a powerful lesson on redemptive suffering. We read how a family follows the ceremonies of their religion and see respect, reverence, and obedience in all their actions. We hear the wisdom that comes from two old people in the temple. We need to reflect for a moment on how we listen with respect to elderly people in our lives.

Simeon told Mary that along with the joys of having such a wonderful child, a sword would pierce her soul. Mary felt that sword when Jesus was murdered on the cross at Calvary. Some parent’s souls are pierced many times from danger, sickness, and violence to their children. They suffer the hurt that happens to their child. Mary took on the hurt of her Son’s rejection and crucifixion. She did not strike back or cry out with vengeance. She suffered tremendously for her Son and for all of us. Jesus suffered tremendously and, like a lamb, he was slaughtered and never struck back. He and his mother were both pierced by the sword of suffering.

What makes suffering redemptive and what makes it useless? Suffering that leads us closer to God in our thoughts and actions is redemptive suffering. Suffering that leads us into ourselves is selfish and useless. We need only to look at our own families and see the suffering saints who have held us up in prayer.

St. Augustine’s mother prayed for 30 years for him to turn to God, and her prayers were answered. Pope John Paul II has been the object of assassination, and he constantly is the vision of a man at prayer with his God for his people. Pope John Paul II visited his would-be assassin in prison and extended to him God’s forgiveness and love as well as his own.  Mother Teresa, 80, and with a bad heart is still doing something beautiful for God. She says, “Unless life is lived for others, it is not worth while.”

Application

This week we are celebrating the special feast of the Holy Family, and all the readings reflect some aspect of family. We see how the power and love of Holy Families can change a dark world into a community of light.

Today, let your suffering be for the Lord and for someone else in your family. Maybe you can offer your pain for someone who is on drugs or alcohol. Pick a family member, a friend, or a co-worker, and pray for that person all week. Let your soul be pierced so that the heart of others will be laid bare and they will turn to God.

Fourth Sunday in Advent (December 20th) – Cycle B

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 SAMUEL 7:1-5, 8-11, 16 FIRST READING

    (“I have been with you wherever you went, and I have destroyed all your enemies before you.”)

1. Who is King David, and from what did the Lord give him rest? 2 Samuel 7:1,  1 Sam. 16:11-13, and 1 Sam. 17:12-15

 

2. What did King David say to Nathan, the prophet?  2 Samuel 7:2

 

3. Where does the Spirit of God dwell?  1 Corinthians 3:16

 

4. What did Nathan say to King David, and who did he say was with him?   2 Samuel 7:3

 

5. When did the Lord speak to Nathan, and where did the Lord tell him to go and what to say?  2 Samuel 7:4-5

 

6. When did the angel of the Lord appear to the shepherds, and when did Jesus pray?  Luke 2:8-9 and Luke 6:12

 

Personal – Do you ever hear the Lord speak to you in the night? What does he say, and what is your response?

 

7. What does the Lord of hosts say he has taken from David, and what has he made him for Israel?   2 Samuel 7:8

 

8. What does the Lord say he has done for David, and what does he say he will make him?   2 Samuel 7:9

 

9. What does the Lord say he will do for his people Israel, and for what reason?   2 Samuel 7:10

 

10. From what will the Lord give them rest, and what does he reveal to them?    2 Samuel 7:11

 

11. Who did Jesus say will be our enemies?  Matthew 10:35-36

 

12. What will happen to his house, kingdom, and throne? 2 Samuel 7:16

 

Personal – In what way has God given you rest from your enemies, or are you undergoing attacks from your enemies?  How do you deal with the attacks?

 

 

THIRD DAY READ ROMANS 16:25-27 SECOND READING

(“…made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith.”)

1. What can God do for us, according to the Gospel and proclamations of Jesus Christ?   Romans 16:25

 

2. What is God able to accomplish in us?   Ephesians 3:20

 

3. What is Paul’s Gospel?   2 Timothy 2:8

 

4. How did Paul receive the Gospel preached by him? Galatians 1:11-12

 

5. How has the Gospel been manifested?  Romans 16:26

 

6. By whose command has the Gospel been made known to all the nations, and what is this to bring about?    Romans 16:26

 

7. What have we received to bring about the obedience of faith? See Romans 1:4-5

 

8. What is evidence of our faith?   2 Corinthians 9:12-13

 

9. Through whom is glory given forever and ever?  Romans 16:27

 

10. How are all things in Jesus?   Romans 11:36

 

11. How do we see the glory of God?   John 11:40

 

Personal – How have you been strengthened by the gospel proclaimed this week, or by prophetic writings in the bible?  What has been the evidence of this strengthening?

 

 

FOURTH DAY READ LUKE 1:26-38 GOSPEL

(“You have found favor with God.”)

1. Who was sent from God, what month was it, and where did he go?   Luke 1:26-27

 

2. Who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, and of what house? Luke 1:27

 

3. What happens when evidence of a girl’s virginity is not found?   Deuteronomy 22:20-21

 

4. According to the angel, who was with Mary, and what is she among women?   Luke 1:28

 

5. Who are the blessed, and how have they been blessed? Galatians 3:8

 

6. How did Mary feel at the words of the angel, and what did she wonder?    Luke 1:29

 

7. What did the angel tell Mary not to do, what has she found with God, and what would she conceive?   Luke 1:30-31

 

8. What name would she give him, who would be great, and what would he be called?   Luke 1:31-32

 

9. Where would be his reign, and what was Mary’s response? Luke 1:33-34

 

10. Who did the angel say would come upon Mary, what would the power of the Most High do to her, and what would the holy offspring be called?    Luke 1:35

 

11. What did the angel say about her kinswoman, Elizabeth, and what is possible with God?    Luke 1:36-37

 

12. What things are possible for God?   Luke 18:27

 

13. What makes nothing impossible for us?  Matthew 17:20

 

14. What did Mary say she was, and what did she say be done? Luke 1:38

 

Personal – In what way have you experienced the empowering of the Holy Spirit within your being?  How have you yielded in faith as Mary did to a messenger of the Lord?

 

 

FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 89:2-5, 27, 29

(“You are my father, my God; the rock, my savior.”)

Read and meditate on Psalm 89:2-5, 27, 29.

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 SAMUEL 7:1-5, 8-11, 16

God had made a covenant with David and promised him that his family line would go on forever. This promise would be fully realized when Jesus was born. God made certain that a prophet was living during the reign of each of the kings of Israel. This was the first time that Nathan, the Prophet, was mentioned, and like all prophets, he urged the people to follow God and to communicate God’s laws and plans to the king.

God told David that he was called from being a simple peasant who tended sheep to become a great warrior-king. He would be used to unify and lead Israel and to destroy its enemies. God did not want a warrior with blood on his hands to build his sacred temple. David being obedient, made the plans and collected the materials so that the temple would be built by the next king, who would be David’s son, Solomon.

It is very important that we, too, should be like David and recognize and be satisfied with the roles which God gives all of us. God rejected David’s request, but this does not mean God rejected David. David’s request was also good, but God said no. God was planning something in David’s life that was much bigger than allowing him the prestige of building a temple.

God is waiting to do the same thing with you and me. He wants you to say “Yes” to him, just like David did. God promised David that his line would live forever. David’s earthly dynasty ended four centuries later. But Jesus Christ, a direct descendant of David, was the ultimate fulfillment of this promise.

Have you prayed with very good intentions only to hear God say no? This is not rejection, but God’s way of fulfilling a greater purpose in your life. Remember always to let go and let God!

 

ROMANS 16:25-27

Paul is sharing with the people of his time and also of our time that it is wonderful to be alive and to be part of God’s mystery of saving the Gentiles. Paul was rejoicing in his role as an instrument in the unfolding plan of salvation. All the Old Testament prophecies were coming true and, through Jesus Christ, God’s mystery was fully revealed. Paul had not been to Rome, but he knew that the city was the center of great political and religious influence. He was getting ready to leave Jerusalem, which was the center of Jewish life, and his message was a message of hope.

Today we live in a world that has been vastly reduced by television. We can view all the major events that happened on that very day. We have the potential for widespread influence or wrenching conflict. We are called to be part of that revelation of God’s mystery. Our part is to live our lives in such a manner that brings a response that most times is very dramatic. Conflict is always potentially an obstacle in the path of the one who brings light into the darkness.

The “mystery” of Christ exploded across the entire known world. No longer was man subjected to heritage being the only way to heaven. Paul brought the “Good News” and that was that God loved the world (you) so much that he gave up his Son on the cross, so that all who believed in his Son would have eternal life. This mystery was revealed in Christ’s death and resurrection. You are that ambassador of Christ and you will go from place to place and bring his “message” of hope to all who are hurting.  We need to reflect on how much of our own life reflects unity, service and love of Jesus Christ.

 

LUKE 1:26-38

Today’s gospel is a story of surrender and empowerment. The angel Gabriel who promises the birth of Jesus to Mary is the same angel who appeared to the prophet David more than 500 years earlier. Joseph and Mary lived in a small town named Nazareth. The area had a bad name because the Roman army barracks were located there, and the people were forced to work as servants to the soldiers. The people of Nazareth were very distrustful of most, and women were under the domination of the men at that time. Women were little more than possessions like the goats and sheep, etc. A woman’s main contribution was to have children and take care of the home. It seemed highly unlikely that God would use two women for a major task. But God chose Mary for one of the most important acts of obedience ever demanded of anyone.

You may feel that you are in a place in your life where God could not possibly use you for service. Do not limit God’s choices; he can and will use you if you will only let him. God’s blessings or choosing does not automatically bring instant fame or favor. His choosing of Mary for the honor of being the mother of the Messiah would lead to much pain. Her peers would ridicule her, and her fiance’ would come close to leaving her. Her son would be rejected and finally murdered.  But through her Son, Jesus Christ, would come the world’s only hope. This is why Mary has been called “Blessed among women.” Her surrender led to our victorious salvation. Her “Yes Lord” opened the doors to heaven for all who would believe in her Son.

A young woman answered God’s call by saying, “Do unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38).  We can learn from Mary that love is obedience to God’s call. If our blessings lead to sorrows, think of Mary and wait patiently for God to finish working out his plan. Mary let the Holy Spirit come upon her, and she was empowered to have a child. Mary was a young unmarried girl who risked disaster. Her story about being made pregnant by the Holy Spirit had the risk of her being considered crazy as well.  Do not wait to see the bottom line before offering your life to God.  Offer yourself willingly, like Mary did, even when the results look disastrous.

 

Application   

The first reading revealed God as a God who keeps his promises.  The second reading showed that we are instruments in the revelation of Jesus Christ. The Gospel tells us to offer ourselves completely to God, to be radical.

This week, share with your family and friends the power of God’s love by visiting a shelter for unmarried pregnant women. Then take a risk and offer your support to her and her soon-to-be-born child.

Third Sunday in Advent (December 13th) – Cycle B

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 ISAIAH 61:1-2, 10-11 FIRST READING

(“I rejoice heartily in the Lord.”)

1. Where is the spirit of the Lord God, and what has the Lord done?   Isaiah 61:1

 

2. What has the Lord God sent me to do for the lowly and to the broken hearted?   Isaiah 61:1

 

3. What do we proclaim to the captives and the prisoners? Isaiah 61:1

 

4. What was the passage read by Jesus in the synagogue, and what did he say about it?   Luke 4:18-19, 21.

 

5. What did God do with Jesus?  Acts 10:38

 

6. What does the anointing we received from him do for us? 1 John 2:27-28

 

7. What has he sent me to announce, and what are we to do to all who mourn?  Isaiah 61:2

 

8. What do we do in our God who is the joy of our soul, and what has he done for us?  Isaiah 61:10

 

9. What will the Lord God make spring up before all the nations?   Isaiah 61:11

 

10. What does the practice of justice do for the just? Proverbs 21:15

 

11. For what does the just man concern himself? Proverbs 29:7

 

Personal – How can you set free the captives within your environment and those who are locked into self-pity? How has the Lord sprung up justice and praise within you?

 

 

THIRD DAY READ 1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-24 SECOND READING

(“Rejoice always.”)

1. What are we to do always?  1 Thessalonians 5:16

 

2. What are we to do without ceasing?   1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

3. To what did the apostles devote themselves, and who was with them?   Acts 1:14

 

4. What does the Spirit do for us in our weakness? Romans 8:26

 

5. What do we do in all circumstances, whose will is it, and in whom?  1 Thessalonians 5:18

 

6. Whom do we not quench?  1 Thessalonians 5:19

 

7. How do we grieve the Holy Spirit?  Isaiah 63:10

 

8. What are we not to despise, what are we to test, and what are we to retain?   1 Thessalonians 5:20-21

 

9. From what are we to refrain?   1 Thessalonians 5:22

 

10. What do those who do evil see not fit to do, with what are they filled, and whom do they hate?   Romans 1:28-31

 

11. What may the God of peace make us, and how may we be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ?  1 Thessalonians 5:23

 

12. What is the One who calls us, and what will he do? 1 Thessalonians 5:24

 

Personal – For what did you give thanks today, and from what evil did you refrain this week?

 

 

FOURTH DAY READ JOHN 1:6-8, 19-28 GOSPEL

(“Make straight the way of the Lord.”)

1. Who sent the man named John, and to what was he to testify? John 1:6-7

 

2. What had John seen, and to what did he testify? John 1:34

 

3. What was John not, but what was he to do?  John 1:8

 

4. Who is the light, and what will he who follows him have?   John 8:12

 

5. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask John who he was, what did he say?  John 1:19-20

 

6. What did the priests and Levites ask John, and what was his answer? John 1:21

 

7. What was John’s response to the priests and Levites, and what did the Prophet Isaiah say?   John 1:23, Isaiah 40:3

 

8. For what are we to make straight paths, and why? Hebrews 12:13

 

9. In response to the Pharisee’s question, with what did John say he baptizes, and whom did he say they do not recognize? John 1:26

 

10. What does John say he is not worthy to do to the One coming after him, and where did this take place?  John 1:27

 

11. Who is not worthy of Jesus?  Matthew 10:37-38

 

Personal – In what way have you prepared the way of the Lord to those around you?  Has your personal testimony been about Jesus in your life?

 

 

FIFTH DAY READ LUKE 1:46-50, 53-54

(“…my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”)

Read and meditate on Luke 1:46-50, 53-54.

What is the Lord saying to you personally through this reading?

 

How can you apply this to your life?

 

 

SIXTH DAY READ ALL OF THE COMMENTARY

ISAIAH 61:1-2, 10-11

This passage of Isaiah was read by Jesus in Luke 4:18. He stopped his reading to the people in the synagogue in the middle of Chapter 61:2, after the words, “The time of God’s favor has come.” Jesus closed the book and said, “These scriptures came true today.” (Luke 4:21). The rest of Isaiah 61:2, “and the day of his wrath to his enemies,” will come true when Jesus returns to earth again. It is important for us to realize that we are now under God’s favor and his wrath is yet to come.

Today’s reading is good news for those who suffer because the Spirit of God is upon those who will go forth and help all those who are suffering. Read Verses 1 and 2 and put your name in place of “me.” “The Spirit of God is upon you and he has anointed you to bring the good news to the suffering and afflicted, he has anointed you to comfort the brokenhearted.” Maybe someone right in your own family is suffering, and you will be the one to bring the  “Good News” of hope to them. All you need to do is say, “Yes, Lord, come into my heart, take up residence in me.”

Take the time right now, wherever you are, and confess your sins and repent, and let the grace of God fill you with his Holy Spirit. Are you aware that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you (1 Cor. 3:16) because of your baptism? Now God is filling you up with his Spirit so that his love can overflow through you and spill on to his hurt and broken people. You will open the eyes of the blind because you are carrying the light of the world within you. Remember, my beloved brothers and sisters, the Spirit of God is upon us and he has anointed us. He has clothed us with his garment of salvation and has draped his robe of righteousness about us.

 

1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-24

In today’s reading we see that in all of our circumstances, joy, prayer, and thanksgiving should not go up or down because of feelings. These three commands to “be joyful, keep on praying, and continue to be thankful” often go against our natural inclinations. We can expect to be joyful and thankful when we are following God’s will because it is his power that flows through us and it is in his hands that we place our cares (1 Peter 5:7). We will always find it much easier to be joyful, thankful, and full of prayer when we really put our trust in the Lord.

We know that we cannot spend all of our time on our knees in prayer, but it is possible to have a prayerful attitude all of the time. We build this attitude on admitting our dependence on God, realizing that his presence is right there in front of us, behind us, above us, below us and within us.  We must choose to obey him fully. It is not enough to talk about Christ, we must also walk with Christ. We will then find it natural to pray frequent, spontaneous short, and very meaningful prayers. Remember that an attitude of prayer is not a substitute for our alone, “quiet” time of prayer with Jesus. A prayerful attitude should be an extension of those times.

Paul was teaching us that we should be thankful in everything that happens to us. We are thankful always because God IS and for the good he can bring out through the time of distress. We are told not to “smother the Holy Spirit” or not to ignore or toss aside the gifts the Holy Spirit has given to us. Sometimes spiritual gifts are controversial and cause division in a church. Paul mentions the gift of prophecy, and he encourages all to use the full expression of these gifts in the body of Christ.

Let us never make fun of those who do not agree with what we profess to believe. Let us also check their works against sacred scripture and sacred tradition. We do not allow Christ to control us only on a religious level. We are called to let Christ control all of us at all times, under all circumstances.

 

JOHN 1:6-8, 19-28

This Gospel message is really a message of “Good News.” It is a message of a light that has come to penetrate the darkness of the world, and especially the darkness of people’s hearts. The light is Jesus, and John the Baptist gave witness to the light. We are called to carry out our role, today, as reflectors of Christ’s light. We are never to present ourselves as the light to others, but always as John the Baptist did, point them to Christ the Light.

We need to remember always that Jesus was the creator of life, and his life brings light to a fallen mankind. In his light you and I see ourselves as we really are (sinners in need of a savior). We may say to ourselves that we do not do all those terrible things that bad people do, but we must never forget that scripture tells us that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Some sins seem bigger than others, and all sins make us sinners, and all sins cut us off from our Holy God. Do not minimize “little” sins. They all separate us from God, but they all can be forgiven. When we follow Jesus Christ, the Light, we can avoid walking and falling blindly into sin. His life and deeds have lit the path of life for all of us. He, in mercy and righteousness, removes the darkness of sin from our lives.

Have you allowed the light of Christ to shine in your life? Today, I challenge you to let Jesus Christ bring light into your life and you will never need to stumble in darkness again.

 

Application   

The first reading reveals that the Spirit of the Lord is upon us.  In the second reading, we are called to be joyful, prayerful, and thankful in all circumstances. In the Gospel, Jesus is the Light, and we are called to reflect that light.

Look around you at your family, relatives, friends, or community and pick out someone who is hurting, alone or imprisoned. Write or visit that person and tell him that you will continue to pray for him and, if possible, with him. You may be able to take someone to Mass or bring Eucharist to someone. You may be able to read this week’s lesson to someone who cannot see or read. Remember, you are called to reflect the Light of Jesus, and his Holy Spirit has anointed you. Go forth and make disciples of all nations, (Math. 28:19), especially those in your own family.

Second Sunday in Advent (December 6th) – Cycle B

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 ISAIAH 40:1-5, 9-11 FIRST READING

(“Cry out at the top of your voice.”)

l. What does the Lord say to give to his people? Isaiah 40:1

 

2. What does God give us in our afflictions, thus enabling us to give others in their troubles? 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

 

3. What two things are we to do to Jerusalem, and what has Jerusalem received from the hand of the Lord?  Isaiah 40:2

 

4. Who speaks for us, and what do we proclaim? Matthew 10:20 and 10:27

 

5. What does a voice crying out in the desert say?  Isaiah 40:3

 

6. What shall happen to every valley, mountain and hill, the rugged land and the rough country?  Isaiah 40:4

 

7. Then what shall be revealed, who shall see it, and who has spoken?   Isaiah 40:5

 

8. What does the Father give the Son, and what does the Son give the Father?  How did the Son give this to the Father? John 17:1 and John 17:4

 

9. What are we to do at the top of our voice, what are we not to do, and what are we to say?   Isaiah 40:9

 

10. Who comes with power ruling by his strong arm, and what is with him and before him?   Isaiah 40:10

 

11. What does a shepherd do to his flock and lambs, where does he carry them, and what does he lead with care? Isaiah 40:11

 

12. What is the eye in Matthew 6:22?

 

Personal – What have your actions been crying out about our Lord to others?  How have you experienced the Lord carrying you in his bosom and leading the ewes with care?

 

 

THIRD DAY READ 2 PETER 3:8-14 SECOND READING

(“The Lord does not delay in keeping his promise.”)

1. In the Lord’s eyes, what is one day?   2 Peter 3:8

 

2. What does the Lord not delay in keeping?   2 Peter 3:9

 

3. What promise was made to us and to our children? Acts 2:38-39

 

4. What does the Lord show us, and what does he want? 2 Peter 3:9

 

5. How does Jesus Christ display all his patience? 1 Timothy 1:15-16

 

6. How will the day of the Lord come, and what will happen on that day?   2 Peter 3:10

 

7. What will happen to everything, and what are people to do? 2 Peter 3:11 and Acts 3:19

 

8. How are we to be in our conduct and devotion while looking for the coming of the day of the Lord? 2 Peter 3:11-12

 

9. How do we become the very holiness of God? 2 Cor. 5:21

 

10. What does scripture say about being holy?   Leviticus 19:2 and 1 Peter 1:16.

 

11. What do we await, and what will reside?  2 Peter 3:13

 

Personal – How have you experienced God’s patience with you? How have you shown patience to your parents, children, friends, schoolmates or co-workers in revealing God’s truth to them and their choice to accept or reject it?

 

 

FOURTH DAY READ MARK 1:1-8 GOSPEL

(“…He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit.”)

1. What begins here, and what is written in Isaiah as to who is being sent and for what reason?   Mark 1:1-2

 

2. What was the herald’s voice in the desert crying?  Mark 1:3

 

3. What message has God entrusted to us?  2 Corinthians 5:19

 

4. What does Jesus say the Father has done to him, and in turn, does to us?   John 17:18

 

5. Who appeared in the desert, what was he proclaiming, and to what did it lead?   Mark 1:4

 

6. What is to be preached to all the nations?  Luke 24:47

 

7. Who went out to John, what was happening to them as they confessed their sins?   Mark 1:5

 

8. To whom are we to confess our sins?   James 5:16

 

9. With what was John clothed, what did he wear around his waist, and what was his food?   Mark 1:6

 

10. With what are we to cloth ourselves, and what is our food? Ephesians 6:13-17, John 4:32-34

 

11. What was the theme of John’s preaching, and in what has he baptized us?  Mark 1:8, John 1:29-33

 

Personal – Examine your conscience. Write out what way you have seen yourself sin, and how you have experienced being baptized in water and the Holy Spirit?

 

 

FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 85:9-14

(“I will hear what God proclaims.”)

Read and meditate on Psalm 85:9-14.

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

ISAIAH 40:1-5, 9-11

This week’s reading from Isaiah comes from a section sometimes called Second Isaiah (Chapters 40-55) and is generally considered to have been written by an unknown poet who prophesied near the end of the Babylonian exile.  In 586 B.C. the city of Jerusalem fell, the walls and palaces were destroyed and the sacred temple burned.  King Zedikiah and the rest of the population were marched to Babylon in chains.  God has called his prophet to speak tenderly and to comfort his chosen people.

The seeds of comfort can take root in the soil of adversity. When it seems as if your life is falling apart, ask God to hold you and comfort you. You may still experience the trials and tribulations of adversity, but you may find God’s comfort right in the midst of it. To some, the only comfort people have is the knowledge that someday they will be with God. I speak now to those who seem to be experiencing very little signs of hope concerning their physical health, in their imprisonment or in their marriage. Hold on. Appreciate the comfort and encouragement found in his word, his presence, his Eucharist and his people.

  The voice of hope calls out to us, as well as to the people in this reading, to prepare a straight and smooth way. This means removing obstacles in our life that prevent us from receiving Jesus into our heart. The desert in our life today can be a picture of life’s trials and suffering. We are not immune to them, but because of our faith and because of God’s promise (John 3:16), we need not be hindered by life’s obstacles.

John the Baptist told the people to prepare to see God work, even in our lives now (Matt. 3:3). He challenged the people to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, and that is what Advent is about for us today. We are called to prepare for the coming of the Christ into our hearts. We are to prepare for the Incarnation of God. We need to smooth our crooked ways, and we do that by asking God to forgive us for our crooked ways and attitudes. In today’s reading, people are compared to grass and flowers that fade away (Is. 40:6-8).  Our lives are mortal, but God’s word is eternal and unfailing.

 

2 PETER 3:8-14

This reading is a message of hope. The people of Peter’s time faced persecution and longed every day to be delivered. Peter tells them that a thousand years is like a day to the Lord. He was telling them that God is not slow and that he just is not on our time table. Jesus is waiting so that more sinners will repent and turn to him. He displays his incredible patience by dealing with us so mercifully. We are not called just to sit around and wait for him. Rather, we are called to go forth and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19). The disciples realized that the time was short, and there was a lot of important work to do.

Today that message is being put forth in a sense of urgency. Here on earth we must plan our life as if we will live forever, and live it as if today was our last day. We are told that Christ’s return will be sudden and terrible for those who do not believe in him and obey his commandments. Do you spend more of your time piling up earthly possessions, or are you striving to bring to others a message of hope?

We are called to bring our brothers and sisters back into repentance. Then they too will experience the incredible forgiveness of the Lord. God’s purpose for mankind is not destruction, but creation. He will burn the heavens and earth with fire, and he will create them anew. We cannot hurry God’s return, even if we are suffering now. He is waiting patiently for more of his rebellious children to repent. We can bring more people to faith in him by the way we live our lives, especially if we are suffering. He wants us to be holy simply because he is holy, and he wants only the best for us.

 

MARK 1:1-8

Mark was not one of the twelve apostles, but he probably knew Jesus personally. This gospel is written in the form of a fast-paced story to Christians in Rome where there were many gods. Mark wanted the Romans to know that Jesus is the one, true Son of God.

We see John the Baptist announce Jesus’ coming and call for the people to straighten out their lives and give up their selfish ways of living. The people were called to renounce their sins, seek God’s forgiveness, and establish a personal relationship with God by believing and obeying his holy word. Today we are called to do the same, acknowledge that we are sinful, and renounce our sins. We can experience God’s forgiveness only when we admit we were wrong. John the Baptist was very popular, and his message of repentance was heard and accepted by many. Repentance does not mean “I am sorry;” it means “a change of attitude.”

John was telling everyone to prepare for someone who was coming who would be far more effective than he. John told the people that he was not fit even to tie the straps of this man’s sandals. He told the people that the Messiah would baptize them with water and the Spirit. The purpose of John’s preaching was to prepare people to accept Jesus as God’s Son. John challenged the people into a new personal relationship with God when he called the people to confess individually.

Where are you right now? Is change needed in your life before you can hear and understand Jesus’ message? You have to admit that you are sinful in order to receive forgiveness. You must have true repentance to have true faith.

 

Application

This week’s first reading tells us that our God is a God who comforts.  The second reading reveals that God deals with each one of us mercifully. The Gospel shows that the response to repentance leads to the power of forgiveness.

This week, let us acknowledge to those around us some of our very obvious flaws. Take a specific fault, like making judgments, and tell them that you are going to change, and if your friends see you being judgmental, to point it out to you in love. This will make a dramatic improvement with your loved ones, those in your work area or school. Be specific and pick the small flaws first, then pray and change (repent). Your change, not your words or tears, will bring forgiveness. Try this with smoking, drinking, lying, swearing, etc. Do something beautiful for God – change (repent).