THE BREAD OF LIFE CATHOLIC BIBLE STUDY
By Deacon Ken and Marie Finn
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Pray and ask God to speak to you through His Holy Spirit.
“THE PARACLETE, THE HOLY SPIRIT WHOM THE FATHER WILL SEND IN MY NAME, WILL INSTRUCT YOU IN EVERYTHING, AND REMIND YOU OF ALL THAT I TOLD YOU.” (JOHN 14:26)
FIRST DAY Reread last week’s readings.
- What was a helpful or new thought from the readings or from the homily you heard on Sunday?
- From what you learned, what personal application did you choose to apply to your life this week?
SECOND DAY READ ISAIAH 60:1-6 FIRST READING
(“But upon you the Lord shines.”)
- To what are the Israelites being called, whose light has come, and what shines upon the Israelites? Isaiah 60:1
- 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
Personal – In your life, in what way has “the glory of the Lord” appeared to you?
- What covers the earth and the unbelievers? Isaiah 60:2
- Upon whom does the Lord shine, and what appears over them? Isaiah 60:2
- Fill in the blank: Nations shall walk by your _____________ and kings by your shining radiance. Isaiah 60:3
- Who is the light? John 8:12
- Why must we raise our eyes, and who comes to the light? Isaiah 60:4
- Who shall be radiant, whose heart shall overflow, and what will happen to the sea and the nations? Isaiah 60:5
- What will the camels do, and from where will they come? Isaiah 60:6
- 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.”)
- Who heard of the ministry which God gave Paul, and for whose regard? Ephesians 3:2, Ephesians 2:11
- What was revealed? Ephesians 3:3
- What was unknown to men in former ages? Ephesians 3:4-5
- Who has revealed this mystery, and to whom was this mystery revealed? Ephesians 3:5
- 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.
- 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
- What is the mystery revealed? Ephesians 3:6-8
- How do the Gentiles and the Jews become co-heirs? Ephesians 3:6
- 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.”)
- Where was Jesus born, who was king at that time, and who arrived from the east? Matthew 2:1
- 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?
- Who is the only sign we follow? Isaiah 7:14 Luke 11:30
- For whom were the astrologers searching, and what did they observe? Matthew 2:2
- How did King Herod react, and who reacted along with him? Matthew 2:3
- Whom did King Herod summon, and what did he inquire of them? Matthew 2:4
- What did the chief priest and scribes tell Herod, and to what prophet were they referring? Matthew 2:5, Micah 1:1 5:1
- What is the ruler to do? Matthew 2:6
- 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.
- What did King Herod find out from the astrologers? Matthew 2:7
- Where did he send them, and what were his instructions to them? Matthew 2:8
- 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?
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.