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 EZEKIEL 17:22-24 FIRST READING
(“As I, the Lord, have spoken, so will I do.”)
l. Who is speaking, and what will he plant on a high and lofty mountain? Ezekiel 17:22
2. What shall the survivors of the house of Judah do? 2 Kings 19:30
3. What did Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesy in days to come? Isaiah 2:2 and Jeremiah 23:5-6
4. Where will God plant a majestic cedar, what will it put forth and bear, and what shall dwell beneath it? Ezekiel 17:23
5. What will happen to Israel in days to come, and with what will they cover the world? Isaiah 27:6
6. Who shall flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon? Psalm 92:13
7. What will all the trees of the field know? Ezekiel 17:24
8. What two things will be brought low, and who will be exalted? Isaiah 2:12-17
9. What are we to hate? Proverbs 8:13
10. What comes with pride, and what comes with the humble? Proverbs 11:2
Personal – How has the Lord brought you low, and how has he lifted you up? In what way has he made you bloom?
THIRD DAY READ 2 CORINTHIANS 5:6-10 SECOND READING
(“We walk by faith, not by sight.”)
1. Who is writing this letter, and to whom is he speaking? 2 Corinthians 1:1
2. What are we to be always, and when are we away from the Lord? 2 Corinthians 5:6
3. By what do we walk? 2 Corinthians 5:7
4. What is faith? Hebrews 11:1
Personal – What are you convinced of concerning Jesus Christ even though you have not seen?
5. Why would we rather leave the body? 2 Cor. 5:1 and 5:8. See also Romans 8:23
6. What are life and death? Philippians 1:21
7. What do we aspire to do whether we are at home or away? 2 Corinthians 5:9
8. How are we to serve Christ and in this way be pleasing to God and approved by others? Romans 14:17-18
9. Where must we all appear, and for what reason? 2 Corinthians 5:10
10. What must you not do, and for what reason? Romans 14:10
Personal – For what reasons are you looking forward to appearing before the judgment seat of God?
FOURTH DAY READ MARK 4:26-34 GOSPEL
(“This is how it is with the kingdom of God.”)
1. What would a man scatter on the ground? Mark 4:26
2. What would a man not know as he would sleep and rise? Mark 4:27
3. Of its own accord, what does the land yield, and what does man do when the grain is ripe? Mark 4:28-29
4. What happens to those who die in the Lord, and who harvested the earth? Revelation 14:13-16
5. What happens at the resurrection of the dead, what is sown, and what is raised? 1 Corinthians 15:42-44
6. What did Jesus say about the kingdom of God, and what is the mustard seed when it is sown in the ground? Mark 4:30-31
7. What is the tongue considered? James 3:5-6
8. What happens when the mustard seed springs up? What does it put forth, and who dwells in its shade? Mark 4:32
9. How does our faith grow? Romans 10:17
Personal – How has your faith grown, and what have you found to hinder your growth in faith?
10. How did Jesus speak the parables? Mark 4:33
11. What did Jesus do in private with his disciples? Mark 4:34
Personal – In your private prayer time with the Lord, how does Jesus speak to you through his Holy Spirit dwelling within you?
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 92:2-3, 13-16
(“The just man shall flourish like the palm tree.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 92:2-3, 13-16.
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
This reading is a message of hope for the people of today, as it was in the time of Ezekiel. It shows us what happened to a nation that put its hope in a foreign alliance. The people relied on their ability to make treaties with neighbors instead of relying on the power of God. Only God could offer them a sign of real and trusting hope. God said he would plant a tender twig, called the Messiah, whose kingdom would grow and become a shelter for all who come to him (Isaiah 11:1).
We have seen this prophecy fulfilled in the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We experience false hope when we depend on foreign alliances, like pride, power, wealth and status. The Lord was the one who took a small twig and made it into a mighty fruit-bearing tree. Our gifts and talents come not from ourselves, but from God. We need only look around in our communities to see mighty trees that have fallen, and much damage has resulted in their crashing fall.
The Lord will bring the proud and haughty crashing to the ground, and he also will exalt the lowly and the meek. There is a tendency in our societies to identify meekness with weakness. The proud depend on themselves and others like themselves and end up in disgrace and complete humiliation. The meek never forget that they are a twig made by God and their growth into a giant, fruit-bearing tree is the result of God’s tremendous gift of grace. The meek, because of their humility and obedience to the Lord, become the strongest in the kingdom of God. Scripture tells us that the proud end in failure, but the meek become wise (Proverbs 11:2).
2 CORINTHIANS 5:6-10
Death is so frightening for many people because it is mysterious, unknown and final. Yet we see in today’s reading that Paul was not afraid to die because he was confident of spending eternity with Christ. This does not deny that facing the unknown and leaving loved ones do not bring some form of anxiety. Leaving those whom we love hurts deeply, but if we believe in Jesus Christ, we can share Paul’s hope and confidence of eternal life with Christ.
Scripture tells us that if we believe in Christ, we shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). For those who believe in Jesus Christ, death is not the last word. Death is only a prelude to eternal life with God. When Christians leave the land of the dying, they enter into the land of the living. In fact, the only person who was ever born to die was Jesus Christ. His death won for us a victory over death. Because of him, you and I can face tomorrow without fear. Upon our physical death, our lives will continue in spirit and at the end of time in a new glorified body forever in the presence of our loving God. It is this confident hope that inspires us to faithful service.
It is true that eternal life is a free gift, given through God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8,9). It is also true that our lives will still be judged by Christ. The gift of faith does not free us from obedience. We must never use God’s gift as an excuse for laziness, because all Christians must give an account for how they had lived (Matthew 16:27). We must never forget that faith is the response to the living presence and power of God in our lives. We can, like Paul, look forward to that “Day of the Lord” without any fear, because fear has to do with punishment (1 John 4:18). And we have a God of love, who died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8) simply because he loved us so much.
Today’s Gospel reveals that spiritual growth is a continual, gradual process that reaches its fullness in spiritual maturity. Spiritual growth is very much like the slow, steady growth of a plant. It is harvested when it reaches its time of fullness. Jesus’ example of the tiny mustard seed really identifies with the church. Our Catholic Church started out very small. It was not very long before it had grown into a worldwide Christian community of believers.
The tiny mustard seed is also like you and me, in that when we feel alone in our stand for Christ, we realize that God is building a worldwide kingdom through us. God has many faithful followers in every part of the world, and our faith, no matter how small, can join with others to accomplish great things. Today our faith continues to grow through hearing his Word, and we need to proclaim his Word to all we meet, whether in our homes, work places or schools (Matt. 28:19).
Jesus spoke in parables to challenge the sincere seekers to discover the true meaning of his words. He spoke out against hypocrisy and impure motives which were characteristic of the various members of the crowd listening to Jesus. We need to realize that only as we put God’s teachings into practice will we understand and see more of the truth. The truth is clear, but our ability to understand it is imperfect. As we obey, we will sharpen our vision and increase our understanding (James 1:22-25). Today, as in the days of this Gospel, those who truly listen to Jesus and obey his holy Word know what he is talking about.
The first reading reveals that putting our hope in man rather than in God is a false hope. The second reading shows us that belief is an action that calls for a response. We live the way we really believe. The Gospel tells us that hypocrisy is defeated by truth.
This week, make a list of what areas in your life are a hypocrisy, and then confess that one area to a Christian brother or sister, so that he or she may pray that you will be healed (James 5:16). Pick out someone from your family, job, or school and be specific. Remember, the prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). The truth of Christ will really set you free from hypocrisy (John 8:32). In one week you will experience a tremendous healing. Write to us and share how God has answered your prayer.