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 43:16-21 FIRST READING
(“See, I am doing something new!”)
- What has the Lord done? Isaiah 43:16
- Why has he done this? Isaiah 51:10.
- When was this done? Exodus 14:21.
- Who lies prostrate never to rise again? Isaiah 43:17
- What are we not to remember or even consider? Isaiah 43:18
Personal – Memorize Isaiah 43:18. When your mind begins to dwell on the past, from this time forward, repeat this verse and keep your eyes on what Jesus has in store for you.
- What is the Lord doing in verse 19 of Isaiah 43?
- Who honors the Lord? Isaiah 43:20
- Where does the Lord put water and who drinks it? Isaiah 43:20
- Who are his chosen in the following scriptures:
- Luke 9:35 –
- Acts 1:2 –
- Deut. 7:6-11 –
- Romans 11:5 –
- For what reason did he form these people? Isaiah 43:21
Personal – In what way do you see yourself as one of God’s chosen people? Meditate on this.
THIRD DAY READ PHILIPPIANS 3:8-14 SECOND READING
(“I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.”)
- To what has Paul considered all as loss, what has he accepted, and for what reason has he considered this? Philippians 3:8
- What is the righteousness Paul possesses and where does it have its origin? Philippians 3:9
- On what is this righteousness based? Philippians 3:9
- What three things does Paul wish to know in verse 10 of Philippians 3?
- What does Romans 6:3-4 say about baptism?
- What must we do in order to be glorified with him? Romans 6:4 and John 3:16.
- What does Paul hope to attain? Philippians 3:11
- What has Paul not yet reached, what is he pursuing, and who has taken possession of him? Philippians 3:12
- What do Philippians 3:13 and Isaiah 43:18 tell us to forget and what are we to do?
- Toward what is Paul pursuing and what is the prize? Philippians 3:14
Personal – In which of the following ways are you going towards the finish line: sitting, crawling, strolling, fast walking, or running? What is the goal you are pursuing?
FOURTH READ JOHN 8:1-11 GOSPEL
(“Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin anymore.”)
- Where was Jesus and what did he do when the people started coming to him? John 8:1-2
- What two groups of men were there, who did they bring in, and what did they make her do? John 8:3
- How did they address Jesus and what did they say to him? John 8:4-5
- According to the law if a woman is married and is caught in adultery what will happen to both man and woman? Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22-24
- Why did they question Jesus about the adulterer and what did Jesus do when they questioned him about her? John 8:6
- When they persisted in their questioning, what did he say to them? John 8:7
- How can you avoid judgment, and what must you do to see clearly? Matthew 7:1-5
- Who are the sinners among us? Romans 3:23
- What did Jesus do a second time? What happened to the audience, and in what succession? John 8:8-9
Personal – By whom are you being led? Are you obedient to what your leaders in government tell you? Are you obedient to what your church leaders tell you? Has there been a time when Jesus’ Word has been put in conflict to what government or church law has stated? How have you responded to that conflict?
- What did Jesus say to the woman after they were alone, what was her response, and then what did he say? John 8:10-11
- In what does God take pleasure? Ezekiel 33:11
Personal – How can you bring pleasure to the Lord today? Take time to examine your conscience and attend the sacrament of reconciliation this week.
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 126:1-6
(The Lord will lead his people from captivity to freedom)
Read and meditate on Psalm 126:1-6.
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
The prophet Isaiah continues to proclaim a favorite theme to the exiles in Babylon. It is called, “The New Exodus.” God is being shown as the one “creating Israel – opening a way – leading out chariots”. The words portray the exodus out of Egypt, ending in the final scene where the Egyptians are lying prostrate and never to be rising. Pharaoh’s troops were crushed and drowned as they rushed into the parted sea opened for the Israelites (Exodus 15:19). The Israelites are being warned not to continue glorifying in a past that has no time for application in the present.
The old exodus was temporary; the new exodus is forever. The word Anamnesis is from this great act of exodus. (Exodus 15:19) Anamnesis means to bring back, to continue, to recreate, to live. This is the heart of the Eucharistic prayer that constitutes the new exodus at every celebration of the Catholic Mass. The people are being told to stop looking in the past and look to the future, toward the permanent, new exodus.
Paul shows us that true freedom can be found only in Jesus Christ, not in observance of a law. He came to God in humble faith, as Jesus told him to do, and he found that fellowship he had sought for so long. Paul discovers that a right relationship with God is based not on law but on faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness is not achieved by any man but given by God. Paul’s understanding of Christ changed his whole value system.
Paul, being a Jew himself, was very much aware of how complete compliance with the law was stressed. He was an educated man, a Roman citizen, and one who hunted down people who did not comply fully with the Jewish belief.
To Paul, salvation meant sharing in the power of Christ’s resurrection as well as sharing in the suffering and becoming like him in death. Like Paul, we too hope to share in the power of Christ’s resurrection, even as it means sharing in his sufferings and becoming like him in death. Our sharing in his suffering can be through rejection by loved ones, family or friends. Jesus experienced rejection by friends right in his own home town. It is this kind of imitation of Christ that gives us hope that will be completed by our resurrection from the dead, even as Christ also was raised.
Paul tells us that he has not yet reached his goal, that he is not yet been raised and is not yet perfect. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith, take firm hold on the everlasting life to which you were called, when, in the presence of many witnesses you made your noble profession of faith.” We continue to make our profession of faith every time we say the Nicene Creed at a Roman Catholic Mass until we reach the finish line which is life on high in Christ Jesus.
Resurrection and perfection are goals which are pursued, not ones which we already have. The prize of which Paul speaks is “Life on high in Christ Jesus”, that is, knowing and experiencing Jesus. Our righteousness and goals come not because of our merit but because of grace which comes from God through Jesus Christ.
In the eyes of the Jewish law, adultery was a very serious crime and was punishable by death. The Scribes and the Pharisees were out to get something on Jesus and discredit him.
A scribe was an educated man, an intellectual, maybe a lawyer or even a scholar. They were teachers of the Law. Many were chosen to be Rabbis. A Pharisee was a leader who practiced the observance of the law to its maximum degree. The Pharisees were more concerned with keeping the external tenets of the law than what was in your heart.
The leaders insisted that Jesus give a decision on what to do with this adulteress. They were hoping to trap him. Jesus turned the tables on them by saying, “Let the man that is without sin cast the first stone.” The elders were the first to leave and the rest followed. Today, as in the days of Christ, people still follow the lead of influential people in the community, even if they are uninformed. Jesus asked her where did her tormentors go, and who is there to condemn her. Jesus told her that he does not condemn her either and to go and sin no more. In Jesus there is the gospel of the second chance. He didn’t say that what she had done did not matter; broken laws and broken hearts always matter; but he was interested in her future more than in her past.
The Pharisees and scribes wished to condemn; Jesus wished to forgive. They knew the thrill of exercising power to condemn; Jesus knew the thrill of exercising the power to forgive. Jesus confronted the woman with a challenge to go out and reach for a life that does not involve sin. He called her to go out and fight, to change her life completely. Jesus showed his belief in her as a person. He did not say “Lady you are a loser.” He said, “Go and sin no more.” His method is not to blast people with the knowledge which they already knew, that they were miserable sinners, but to inspire them to become living saints.
Jesus also gives a warning, unspoken but implied. She has a choice either to go back to her old life and end up in destruction or to reach out to the new way with him. Jesus tells the man who he had just healed in the pool to stop sinning or something worse may happen to him (John 5:14). He clearly warns all of us that sin leads only to destruction. He offers to all of us the second chance, the gift of forgiveness.
The first reading shows us that to look “back” is not of the Lord. The second reading reveals that only in Christ can true freedom be experienced. The Gospel tells us that Jesus forgives us, he does not condemn us.
This week, let your family and your community see and experience you as a person who seeks justice and extends mercy and forgiveness. A person who can forgive and forget is a person who is really free.