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 63:16, 17, 19; 64:2-7 FIRST READING
(“…we are the work of your hands.”)
- What is the Lord to us, and what is he named forever? Isaiah 63:16
- How has God redeemed us? 1 Peter 1:18-21
- What happens to our hearts when we wander from the Lord’s ways? Isaiah 63:17
- What has to be broken, and for what reason? Ezekial 6:8-10
- What hardens our hearts and keeps us from his rest? See Hebrews 3:15-19, concentrating on verse 19
- Whom have they been like for too long? Isaiah 63:19
- For what was it they thought they could not hope? Isaiah 64:2-3
- What has no ear heard nor eye seen, and what is God doing? Is. 64:3 and also 1 Corinthians 2:9
- With what were the Israelites concerned that the Lord might eet them doing, and of what might they be mindful? What is the Lord, and what are we? Isaiah 64:4
- Like what had all of them become, and what carries them away like the wind? Isaiah 64:5
- Who calls upon your name and rouses himself to cling to you, and for what reason? Isaiah 64:6
- We are the work of whose hands? Isaiah 64:7
Personal – In what way have you hardened your heart to the way of the Lord, and is guilt a part of your life? How has God been trying to break through the heart of stone and make it a heart of flesh?
THIRD DAY READ 1 CORINTHIANS 1:3-9 SECOND READING
(“God is faithful,”)
- What two things come from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ? 1 Corinthians 1:3
- What has surpassed the increase of sin, and how does it reign, and through whom does it reign? Romans 5:20-21
- What is Jesus’ gift to us? John 14:27
- Why does Paul continually thank God, and in what is it that the people have been richly blessed? 1 Corinthians 1:4-5
- Who has the king for his friend? Proverbs 22:11
- Who gains and seeks knowledge? Proverbs 18:15
- What has been confirmed among those of Corinth, and what is it the people do not lack? 1 Corinthians 1:6-7
- What has appeared offering salvation to all people, and what does it train us to do? Titus 2:11-14
- What will God do for us so that we will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ? 1 Corinthians 1:8
- What does God say he will do for us? Isaiah 41:10
- What is God, and to what has he called us? 1 Cor. 1:9
Personal – How has your speech to your family, friends, school mates and co-workers been a reflection of the spiritual gifts God has given you?
FOURTH DAY READ MARK 13:33-37 GOSPEL
(“Be constantly on the watch!”)
- What are we to do, and what do we not know? Mark 13:33, also Matthew 24:42
- What are we to attend, and what two things are we to watch? 1 Timothy 4:15-16
- Whom does a man who leaves home to travel abroad leave in charge, and how does he leave them? What does the man order the gatekeeper to do? Mark 13:34
- What did Mary call herself? Luke 1:38
- What did Jesus say that anyone who serves him would do, where will he be, and what will the Father do? John 12:26
- What do we not know, and what must we not let him do? Mark 13:35-36
- What does he say to us and to all? Mark 13:37
- Against what did Jesus tell his disciples to be on guard? Luke 12:1
- Against what did Paul warn us to be on guard? Acts 20:30-31
- For what other reason do we stay sober and alert? 1 Peter 5:8
- What will stand guard over our hearts and minds? Philippians 4:7
Personal – How alert have you been to the hypocrisy and lies of those who are not following God’s Word? This week, in what way have you been able to use his Word to fight against this?
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 80: 2-3, 15-16, 18-19
(“Give us new life, and we will call upon your name,”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 80: 2-3, 15-16, 18-19.
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
ISAIAH 63: 16-17, 19; 64:2-7
The faithful remnant (those who survived the Babylonian captivity) asked God for several favors. One was to show compassion to them and also to punish their enemies. This reading describes God’s glory as like an intense consuming fire that burns everything in its path. His power is described in awe, and no one has ever heard or seen a God like Him. The people realized that being so impure themselves, there was no way that they could be saved on their own merits. God’s mercy was the only hope that they had, and they grasped eagerly for it. When God met with Moses there was a thunderstorm, smoke, and an earthquake.
If God were to meet us today, His glory would overwhelm us, especially when we look at our so-called good works or filthy rags. Sin makes us unclean, it produces a hardened heart, and it ultimately leads to spiritual and sometimes physical death. Because of our sins, we are dressed in rotten rags and could not dine at the king’s table. Our best efforts still fall short. God steps forth like the potter and remakes the clay. He takes our old, hardened heart and He lets it be broken through sickness, humiliation, pain, suffering and defeat. God spared his remnant of people then and he will do the same now. But we must be open to true repentance. The people in today’s message would not change until they had learned some hard lessons. You need to reflect today and ask yourself, does your heart long for God enough to change those areas within you that displease and hurt Him? Will God have to “break” your heart in order to bring you to true repentance?
1 CORINTHIANS 1:3-9
Today’s reading clearly reveals that in a world of noise, confusion and incredible pressures, people long for peace. In today’s world that hunger and thirst for peace still resides in the hearts of most people. Yet, many give up the search, thinking it impossible to find, but the peace of mind and heart is available through faith in Jesus Christ.
For a moment, let us review our description of faith. Faith is the living response to the power and presence of God in our life. In other words, we have to respond to the presence of God to utilize fully the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul had some strong words for the Corinthian people, but he began this letter on a very positive note. He affirms their being in the family of God and having the power of the Spirit in their lives. The Corinthian church members had all the spiritual gifts they needed to live the Christian life, to witness for Christ, and to stand up against the paganism of Corinth.
We too have those very same gifts and the same power because we have the very same Holy Spirit. We are called by Christ to come follow Him and He promised us salvation. This salvation was not because of any great accomplishment on our part. His action of dying on the cross and rising from the dead is where our guarantee has its source.
Later on in this same letter to the Corinthians, Paul admonishes the people because they began to argue over which of the gifts was more important (1 Cor. Chapters 12-14). Hold on to what has been promised to you, and if you believe and have faith in Christ, you will experience the reality and honor of God’s covenant. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that anyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Jesus shows us his complete trust and obedience to His heavenly Father when He tells us that He did not know even the time of the end. He was affirming his humanity when He voluntarily gave up the unlimited use of His divine attributes. The emphasis on Jesus’ statement is that only the Father knows, and the secret is God the Father’s to be revealed when He wills. Jesus is really telling us that no interpretation of scripture or science can predict the exact day which only His Heavenly Father knows. Jesus is teaching that preparation, and not calculation, is needed.
Look around and see how much planning goes into a wedding, the birth of a child, a career change, or the purchase or rental of a home. Jesus’ return is the most important event in our lives and we need to ask ourselves whether we place the same importance on preparing for His return. We can prepare for His return through study of his Holy Word, following the teachings of the Church, and receiving the Sacraments. We are being told how to prepare by scripture and sacred tradition. We are not to be misled by confusing claims or idle interpretations of what will happen at the end of time. We are called to witness to Christ in season and out of season, and to be prepared for persecution (Mark 13:13).
We especially need to be morally alert and obedient to God’s commandments. Scripture tells us to stay sober and alert. Our opponent, the devil, is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Lions choose victims who are alone, sick, or not alert. Being in the company of supportive Christians is a good way of being prepared. This passage really brings home the power of right living. That is living for God in a world where God is largely ignored.
This week’s first reading tells us that God’s grace changes us from sinners to saints. In the second reading we see that peace is attainable only through Jesus Christ. The Gospel warns us to prepare, and not calculate for Christ’s return.
This week, be alert and be aware of hypocrisy in your speech and in the speech of the members of your family, your co-workers, and school associates. First affirm this person by telling him/her how much God has blessed him/her and then witness to him/her that hypocrisy is a tool of Satan who is waiting to devour people who are not alert. Your speech and actions are signs to others that you will be prepared when Christ returns.