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 ACTS 9:26-31 FIRST READING
(“…he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.”)
1. Who arrived in Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples? Acts 9:4, Acts 13:9
2. What were the disciples towards Saul, and what did they not believe? Acts 9:26
3. What do I do when I become afraid? Psalm 56:4-5
Personal – When someone has wronged you and decides to do right, how do you respond?
4. Who was Barnabas, what did he do with Saul, and what did he report to the disciples about him? Acts 4:36, 9:27
5. What did Saul proclaim in Damascus about Jesus, what did all who heard him say, and what happened to the Jews?Acts 9:20-22
6. How did Saul move about, and how did he speak out in the name of the Lord? Acts 9:28
7. What did the servants ask the Lord to enable them to speak? Acts 4:29
8. With whom did Saul speak and debate, what did they try to do to him, and where did the brothers take him after learning of this? Acts 9:29-30
9. As the number of disciples continued to grow, who complained, and for what reason? Acts 6:1
10. What did the church enjoy, what was happening to the church, and with whose consolation did it grow? Acts 9:31
11. When did the Holy Spirit speak to the church at Antioch, and what did he say? Acts 13:1-2
Personal – In what way have you been a support to someone who has made a conversion?
THIRD DAY READ 1 JOHN 3:18-24 SECOND READING
(“Those who keep his commandments remain in him,”)
1. What are we called, how are we not to love, and how are we to love? 1 John 3:18
2. What are we to love? Romans 12:9
3. “My people come to you as people always do; they sit down before you and hear your words,” but what do they not do, and for what reason? Ezekiel 33:31
4. What is God greater than, and what does he know? 1 John 3:20
5. If our hearts do not condemn us, what do we have, what do we receive, and for what reason? 1 John 3:21-22
6. How are our hearts purified? Acts 15:9
7. When does God hear us? 1 John 5:14
8. What does our heavenly Father give to those who ask? Matthew 7:11
9. What is God’s commandment? 1 John 3:23
10. What is the work of God? John 6:29
11. How ought we to live if we claim to abide in Jesus? 1 John 2:6
Personal – How have you loved God and those around you in deed and in truth? Do your words contradict your actions?
FOURTH DAY READ JOHN 15:1-8 GOSPEL
(“You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.”)
1. What is Jesus, and what is the Father? John 15:1
2. What does he take away, and what does he prune so that it bears more? John 15:2
3. What is the fruit of the Holy Spirit? Galatians 5:22-23
4. Because of what are you already pruned? John 15:3
5. What is the word? John 17:17
6. As Jesus remains in us, in whom are we to remain? What can a branch not do on its own, and what can we not do? John 15:4
7. What will we bear if we remain in Jesus, and what can we do without him? John 15:5
8. What happens to the builders unless the Lord builds the house? Psalm 127:1
9. What will happen to anyone who does not remain in Jesus, and what will people do with them? John 15:6
10. What will happen to every tree that does not bear good fruit? Matthew 3:10
11. Ask for whatever we want and it will be done for us, if we do what? John 15:7
12. How is the Father glorified? John 15:8, Matthew 5:16
13. What will we be if we remain in Jesus’ word, what will we know, and what will it do to us? John 8:31-32
Personal – How have you abided in Jesus, and how do others see Jesus abiding in you through your actions? What kind of fruit do they see?
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 22:26-32
(“The lowly shall eat their fill,”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 22:26-32.
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
When Barnabas brought Paul, who was still being called Saul, to Jerusalem to join the disciples, he found them very much afraid of him. We must remember that Saul was an arch-enemy of the Christian movement until he met the Lord on the Damascus road (Acts 9:3-9). Soon after his conversion his name Saul (Hebrew emphasizing his Jewish background) was changed to Paul (Roman emphasizing the Gentile world). Ananias is told that Paul is the Lord’s chosen instrument to carry his name before the Gentiles (Acts 9:15).
Barnabas was an early disciple of Christ and his name meant “son of prophecy.” He was a converted Jew and a Levite, so he knew very well the apostles’ fear of Paul’s reputation. Barnabas was the bridge between Paul and the apostles and boldly introduced the newly-converted Paul to them.
Today’s reading really challenges all of us to believe that with God nothing is impossible. We all know that it is very difficult to change our reputation and new Christians especially need sponsors. We must encourage, teach, and introduce new believers to other members of our Christian community. The challenge to us is to find ways by which we can become a Barnabas to new believers. Paul became a Christian and the church enjoyed a brief time of peace. The believers learned how to walk in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. We might do well to do the same in our world today. A real and lasting peace can come only when men and women are free, and it is only Jesus Christ that really sets us free (John 8:32).
1 JOHN 3:18-24
This letter of John was written so that we who believe will realize that we possess eternal life (1 John 5:13). John understood that to know God is to keep his commandments. Love, if it is genuine, comes from the heart and is directed toward God and man. A serious problem of John’s day as well as today is the question, “Am I saved, and if so, how can I know?” Throughout the entire letter John assures us believers that we can know. The phrase “we know” was used 13 times to signify that it is a part of the normal spiritual consciousness (3:14).
Today’s reading gives us an example of how to lay down our lives for others. How clearly do our actions say we really love others? Are we as generous with our money, possessions and time as we could be? Today many people feel that they do not love others as they should, and their conscience bothers them. How do we escape the gnawing accusations of our conscience? We certainly do not escape it by ignoring or rationalizing our behavior.
John tells us that only by right actions can our conscience be cleansed. God knows our hearts as well as our actions. If we are in Christ, he will not condemn us (Romans 8:1). If we are walking in the way of the Lord but still feel that we are not good enough, remember that God is much more powerful than our conscience. He knows that we belong to him and he will not allow anything to separate us from his love (Rom. 8:31-39).
We can come to God anytime and he will be there for us. Our conscience will be clear when we realize that fear has to do with punishment, but true love drives out punishment (1 John 4:18). Christianity is a religion of the heart, and outward compliance is not enough. Real love is an action, a decision, not a feeling. It produces sacrificial giving whether it be ourself, money, possessions or time. The greatest example of love is to lay down our life for others, which involved putting others’ needs first (John 15:13).
Jesus teaches about the vine and the branches. The grapevine is a prolific plant and a single vine bears many grapes. In the Passover meal the fruit of the vine was a symbol of God’s goodness to his people. Jesus shows us the difference between two kinds of pruning. One type is separating and the other is cutting back the branches (15:3). Fruitful branches are cut back to promote growth, but branches that do not bear fruit are cut off at the trunk. In other words, those who will not bear fruit for God or who try to block the efforts of God’s followers will be separated from the divine flow of life.
The Christian character includes the qualities of excellent fruit, such as prayer, joy, and love. To abide in Christ is to live in Christ. It really means to take up residence with him. He will reside within us if we truly believe that he is God’s Son (1 John 4:15) and that we receive him as our Lord and Savior (John 1:12). We are called to keep his commandments (1 John 3:24), continuing in faith (1 John 2:24), and relating to the community of Christian believers, Christ’s body.
Many people today try to do what is good and right. Jesus tells us that the only way to live a truly good life is to stay close to him, like a branch attached to the vine. What about us? Are we receiving the nourishment and life offered to us by our Lord Jesus Christ? A rich harvest honors the harvester, for he has gathered the fruits.
Be a disciple of the Lord and help bring people into a right relationship with Jesus Christ. If your relationship is not right, then take a moment right now and confess to him, ask his forgiveness, and enjoy the fruit of his harvest which is peace, joy, and love.
The first reading tells us how to be a bridge for new believers. The second reading shows us that love is a decision, not a feeling. The Gospel reveals that to abide means to take up residence.
This week, be a bridge between family members, school or work associates. Try to encourage others to be the best that they can be. Let God’s love abide in you, and you will make a terrific Barnabas. Remember, be a peacemaker and be a friend, make a friend, and bring that friend to Christ.