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.”)
1. Where does the Lord place a father over his children, and what does he confirm over sons? Sirach 3:2
2. What happens to him who honors his father? Sirach 3:3
3. What do we store up when we revere our mother? Sir 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? Sir 3:6, Exodus 20:12
6. What is he doing who brings comfort to his mother? Sir 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 way do you listen to and honor both your earthly father and your heavenly Father? In what way has your earthly father become a burden to you in his old age? Compare your relationship with your heavenly Father and your earthly father and repent where necessary.
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, what are we to do over any grievance we may have for anyone and why are we to forgive? Colossians 3:13
4. What did Jesus say as he was dying on the cross and to whom was he speaking? Luke 23:34
5. 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 the way you forgive others when they have hurt you?
6. What virtue do we put on over all the rest? Colossians 3:14
7. What must reign in our hearts, of what are we members, what are we called, and to what must we dedicate ourselves? Colossians 3:15
8. What must dwell in us, how are we to treat one another and how are we to sing gratefully to God? Colossians 3:16
9. Whatever we do, in speech or action, in whose name are we to do it, and to whom are we to give thanks? Col 3:17
10. How are husbands to act towards their wives and how are wives to act towards their husbands? Colossians 3:18‑19
11. How are children to act towards their parents and fathers towards children? Colossians 3:20‑21
Personal ‑ What do you think is the biggest cause of break‑up in the family today? How do you think this can be remedied? In what way are you obeying or disobeying what God says in Colossians 3:18‑21? Reflect on this and make changes where necessary. Remember, we receive grace from the sacrament of reconciliation.
FOURTH DAY READ MATTHEW 2:13‑15, 19‑23 GOSPEL
(“Get up, take the child and his mother, and set out for the land of Israel.”)
1. After the astrologers left, how did the angel of the Lord appear to Joseph and what was his command? Matthew 2:13
2. How did Joseph respond to his command? Matthew 2:14
3. How long did he stay in Egypt and what did the Lord say through the prophet Hosea? Matthew 2:15, Hosea 11:1
4. After Herod’s death, what happened to Joseph? Matthew 2:19
5. What other time did Joseph have a dream and was given instructions by the Lord? Matthew 1:20
6. What was the command given him? Matthew 2:20
7. How did Joseph respond to this command? Matthew 2:21
8. What had Joseph heard, causing him to fear to return to Bethlehem? Matthew 2:22
9. How was he warned, and to what region did he go? Matt 2:22
10. In what town did they settle and what was fulfilled? Matthew 2:23
Personal ‑ Joseph listened and responded to the Word of God.
In what ways have you heard the Lord speak to you and you obeyed? What ways has he spoken to you personally? List all the ways God speaks to us.
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 128:1‑5
(“Happy are those who fear the Lord and 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
Today we are celebrating the special Feast of the Holy Family. We see in our reading how the power and love of holy families can change a dark world into a community of light.
SIRACH 3:2‑6, 12‑14
Sirach was a pious, 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. 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 their children.
This passage really applies very strongly to today’s families because the family structure is under a severe attack by Satan through certain groups and different aspects of our society’s values. 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 them. 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 our parents carries with it a promise of God’s blessing. A long life was a sign of God’s blessing in the Hebrew world and it signified that we were dedicated to God’s will.
Children are called to give their aging parents loving care and 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 privilege and responsibility to care for them. This is not some social health care’s program slogan, instead, it is a clear statement of responsibility that is in accordance with God’s Holy Word. God wants love, kindness, respect, honor, sacrifice, comfort, safety, etc.
Paul wrote this letter while imprisoned in Rome. He was told by a follower of his called Epaphras, that recent converts to the Christian faith were being disturbed by false teachers. Paul’s letter spells out some very practical rules for Christian living. We are told to clothe ourselves 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 was a main virtue of a Christian, and this is what separated him from the non‑believer. 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 us as a body, and with Christ as the head, and as the source of unity, harmony and peace. We hear that it is not enough to know the doctrine of Christ, rather we must live it and our lives must be witnesses of good-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 wife to be subject to the spiritual authority of her husband. Children are called to obey their parents. Paul tells the husband to “love your wife.” This may sound common today, but in Paul’s times, wives were not considered much more than “chattel” or prized goods. Wives had no rights and a wife was 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 finally 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, not to drive them into the ground. 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).
MATTHEW 2:13‑15, 19‑23
Herod’s actions were those of a desperate person. He killed all the Jewish boys under the age of two, in a desperate attempt to prevent this so-called newborn king from taking his throne away. Herod was not successful because his act was a twisted human act. Jesus was a king by divine action. We need to see in this that no one can distort or prevent God’s plan. People hurt only themselves in trying to do so.
Joseph received from God a second dream. His first dream revealed to him that Mary was carrying in her body the “Messiah” (l:20). His second dream showed him how to protect his family and to leave immediately for Egypt. Joseph’s heart was open because he was prepared in his relationship with God. He continued to be open and receptive to God’s guidance. We need to ask ourselves whether we are open to God’s guidance, and would we move like Joseph did, if God called us to do so.
The trip to Egypt was in itself not so unusual, because many colonies of Jews lived there. The trip was about 12 days traveling on hard roads with cold lonely nights and very little comfort. There is an interesting parallel between the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt and Israel’s history. When Israel was young, she went to Egypt, as Joseph, Mary and Jesus did. God led Israel out (Hosea 11:1) and God brought the Holy Family back. God continues to save his people even today.
Today’s Gospel shows how strong love and obedience are tied together. We also see that the foundation of a family is the father. Joseph’s loyalty and protection of Mary and Jesus were directly connected to his being obedient to God’s command. Joseph is a role model that all husbands and fathers can imitate. God’s wish is that all families be holy and all holy families be in complete obedience to God’s Holy Word. How holy is your family?
The first reading tells us that the human family has been honored as the foundation of the human race. The second reading reveals to us the danger of false teachers being as real today as it was in his time. The Gospel shows us that no one can distort or prevent God’s plan.
Fathers, take some time each day to read God’s Holy Word and see what it is saying about the family. Parents, give your children the example of obedience by being obedient to God in your manner of talk. No bickering, no nagging, no slandering, and no gossip. Children, obey your parents in everything and speak to them with respect, kindness and joy. God wants you to have a Holy Family, too.