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 58:7‑10 FIRST READING
(“Then light shall rise for you in the darkness.”)
- With whom do we share our bread, and how do we help the homeless? Isaiah 58:7
- Whom do we clothe when we see them and on whom are we not to turn our back? Isaiah 58:7
Personal‑ In your enthusiasm to obey God and feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc., have you ever neglected those in your home, your spouse, your children, your relatives, your close friends, your neighbors or those with whom you work? Reread verse 7 again.
- What shall happen to us if we do these things? Isaiah 58:8, Ezekiel 18:7, 9
- What shall happen to our wound, and what shall go before us? Isaiah 58:8
- What shall be our rear guard and what will happen when we call the Lord? Isaiah 58:8-9
- When we cry for help, what will he say? Isaiah 58:9
- What three things must we remove from our midst? Isaiah 58:9
- What does God’s Word tell us about the following?
OPPRESSION MALICIOUS SPEECH ACCUSATIONS
Psalm 119:134 Proverbs 2:12 Prov. 10:18
Proverbs 21:7 Proverbs 4:24 Mark 15:3-5
Ecclesiastes 7:7 Sirach 27:6
Sirach 10:7 Matthew 22:15
Isaiah 33:15‑16 John 8:43‑44
- If we bestow our bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted, what will rise for us in the darkness, and what will happen to the gloom? Isaiah 58:10
- How do we satisfy the afflicted? Luke 9:1‑6
Personal‑ How have you removed oppression, false accusations, and malicious speech from your midst? In what way have you fed the hungry, given shelter to the homeless, or clothed the naked this past week? How have you been able to do this without neglecting your family?
THIRD DAY READ 1 CORINTHIANS 2:1‑5 SECOND READING
(“Your faith rest not on the wisdom of men but on the power of God.”)
- Who was speaking and to whom was he speaking in 1 Cor. 2:1? 1 Corinthians 1:1
- What did he come proclaiming? 1 Corinthians 2:1
- What was God’s testimony? 1 Corinthians 2:2, 1 John 5:6‑12
- Did Paul speak of anything else besides Jesus crucified? 1 Corinthians 2:2
- How did Paul come among them? 1 Corinthians 2:3
- Who helps us in our weakness? Romans 8:26
Personal‑ Have you ever experienced this weakness and fear that Paul did among people? Have you ever experienced this in your own home, around your relatives, friends, etc.? Spend an extra five minutes a day, this week, alone with the Lord dwelling on the presence of his Holy Spirit within you.
- What did the Lord tell Paul about his weakness? 2 Corinthians 12:9
- Compare weakness with the power of God using Paul’s statements in 2 Corinthians 13:3‑9.
- What two things have none of the persuasive force of “wise” argumentation, but had the convincing power of the Spirit? 1 Corinthians 2:4
- God sends messages to us in many ways. Read the following and see if you can pick out who was being used as a messenger.
Matthew 11:10, 11
Personal‑ Have you been able to recognize God’s messages to you? Meditate on the way God speaks to you directly and through others and whether or not you are really listening. Share with someone.
FOURTH DAY READ MATTHEW 5:13‑16 GOSPEL
(“You are the light of the world.”)
- Who is the salt of the earth? What do you do with salt if it goes flat, and can you restore its flavor? Matt 5:13; Luke 14:34‑35
- Read the following and tell how salt was used.
Personal‑ The partaking in common of salt by those seated together at table was an ancient symbol of friendship and alliance. When you are seated at your table and pass the salt, is it always in friendship or is your salt beginning to go flat in your home or at your table? Is the seasoning coming from you that of love and friendship? Reflect on this. Ask the Lord to season you with his love.
- Who is the light of the world, and what cannot be hidden? Matthew 5:14
- What do we NOT do with a lamp we light, and what do we DO with it? Matthew 5:15
- In what way must our light shine before men, and what will they see in us? Matthew 5:16
- What did Jesus say about being good, and whom do we praise for his goodness? Luke 18:19, Tobit 13:10
- Who is good? Psalm 25:8
- Where does a man produce good? Matt 12:34-35, Luke 6:45
- With what are we to be filled? Romans 15:14
- What will people do when they see goodness in the acts,we perform? Matthew 5:16
- What does God’s Word say about giving praise to our Father, and who were the people involved?
Exodus 15:1, 2 Mark 2:12
2 Samuel 22:50, 51 Luke 4:14‑15
Ezra 10:10, 11 Acts 3:9
Daniel 2:19, 23 Acts 13:46‑48
Daniel 4:34 Hebrews 13:12‑15
Matthew 11:25 Rev 4:8‑11
Personal‑ How do you take the time each day to praise God for what he is doing in your life? Take time to praise him for giving you a new life in him, for his promises to you in his word, for your faith, for direction and guidance. Praise him for his goodness that is becoming visible to others in your actions as you yield to his Holy Spirit.
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 112:4‑9
(“The Lord dawns through the darkness, a light for the upright.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 112:4‑9.
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
Faith is a living response to the presence and power of God in our lives. Faith without good works is dead and useless (James 2:17). We are being told in today’s reading that we cannot be saved by works, no matter how good they may be, without faith in God. We are also told that fasting can be very beneficial, both physically and spiritually, but at best the only one who benefits is you. Our response to the presence of God in our lives is what produces really effective good works. Our response to the presence of God and his power affects others, and that is what God wants from us. He wants us to make a difference in the lives of the hungry, the oppressed, the homeless, and to protect the lives of the unborn.
We do not do good things to become good; we do good things because of the goodness that is within all men of faith. That goodness is the presence and power of God, whom we know as the Holy Spirit. Our response in faith unleashes the power of God to heal a sick and wounded world. Pleasing God is not done by what we eat or do not eat; rather it is by bringing charity, justice, and generosity to the downtrodden.
We glorify God most when we can help his broken, bruised, abandoned, hungry, homeless, and aborted children into healthy loved human beings. Faith is our response to God’s presence and power in our own life, and we find this revealed to us in his Holy Word and the teachings of his beloved church. He is the water that prevents men from dying of thirst.
1 CORINTHIANS 2:1‑5
It is very important that we realize that Paul, was a brilliant scholar. He once used his verbal skills very well in convicting many Christians of being heretics. Paul explains very clearly in today’s reading that he speaks only of the crucified Christ. We can do today what Paul was doing then, and that is keeping our Gospel message simple and basic. Our power is in the Holy Spirit, not in any gift of public speaking.
Paul is saying that while study and preparation for proclaiming God’s Word are necessary, preparation must be tied into and be dependent on the Holy Spirit. Paul’s own background of scripture study and preparation for preaching allowed him to lean entirely on God and still be responsive to the needs of the believers. Paul goes to great lengths to tell us that his preaching is very plain, and that Jesus is much more comfortable in the house of a plain and simple person than living in luxury with one who is proclaiming God’s law and exacting its complete obedience from the people. We need to reflect on how we come across to other people when we are professing our faith. Do people see in us a weakness and trembling that is overcome because of our own personal love of Jesus? Jesus tells us that his grace is enough for us; we do not have to worry about our credentials.
God calls us to be faithful, not successful. People who are hurting will respond to a message of hope, love, and forgiveness that is immersed in the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. We are God’s messengers today, and we are called to respond to him. Today’s reading clearly tells us that we do not have to depend on our talents to proclaim the Gospel message. What we do need is to proclaim that Jesus is Lord and, like Paul, preach only the crucified Christ. Repentance is still man’s best bet to live an abundant life (John 10:10).
Matthew is so down to earth in this particular writing. Most of us have experienced, at one time or another, the addition of salt on a delicious salad or even on a sizzling piece of meat. Paul shows us that, like salt, Christians are called to be of a special flavor. Old salt that loses its flavor is thrown out. Salt is not called to blend in, but to be distinctive in flavor. As Christians, we are not called to blend into the rest of the world; we are called to be distinctively different.
We are worthless if people cannot see a difference in the way we live our lives. Seasoning is made to bring out the best in foods, and Christians are called to bring out the best in people. We need only to picture a great city on a hill where we can see the lights ahead for many miles. When we are living by faith and not by sight, our lives glow like tremendous lights to others. That light that is shining in a Christian is the light of Jesus Christ. That is the light that led men out of the darkness of sin.
We are the only ones who can dim that light, and many of us do it by being quiet when we should speak out, as in the abortion issue. Another way is going along with the crowd. Then there is sin that dims our light tremendously. Many of us let our light grow dim because we do not share our light with others. We are called by our very faith in God, to be a beacon of truth and to let our light shine forth in this darkened world of pain and sin.
Jesus tells us to be a favorable difference in our community and to let his Light shine in us. He is the light that guides the prostitute, the alcoholic, the drug addict, the adulterer, the thief, the liar, and all those who stagger around in the darkness of despair, out of the darkness. He welcomes and leads them back home to his church of love and forgiveness.
In the first reading we see that faith is the living response to the power and presence of God in our lives. The second reading shows us that salvation is available to all, even the most ordinary of men. The Gospel calls us to be a light that leads people out of the darkness of sin.
This week, let us respond to God’s call and be a light to our family and friends by showing them the way to Jesus! Try to attend daily Mass and read scripture every day this week. Spend a certain amount of time each day in prayer. Spend some time with each family member and try to do something positive for him/her. You can be the flavor and light if you just respond to God’s power within you.