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 MICAH 5:1-4 FIRST READING
(“He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the Lord.”)
- What is too small to be among the clans of Judah? Who is to come forth from there, and where is his origin? Micah 5:1
- Who was a son of an Ephrathite named Jesse and where was he from? 1 Samuel 17:12
- What will the Lord do until the time she is to give birth, and what shall happen to the rest of the brethren? Micah 5:2
- What does scripture say about the Messiah? John 7:42
- Where was Jesus born, and whom shall he shepherd? Matthew 2:1, 6
- How shall he stand and shepherd his flock, with Whose power or strength, and by Whose majestic name will he do it? Micah 5:3
- What will happen to his flock and for what reason? Micah 5:3
- What shall he be? Micah 5:4
- Because of the blood of Christ, what is he to us, and what did he break down? Ephesians 2:13-14
- If Assyria invades their country, what will the people do? Micah 5:4-5
Personal – Who is ruler or has authority over you, and where do they get their strength? Over whom do you rule, and where do you get your strength?
THIRD DAY READ HEBREWS 10:5-10 SECOND READING
(“Behold, I come to do your will, O God.”)
- What was not desired, and what was prepared on his coming into the world? Hebrews 10:5
- What was sought not, and what was given? Psalm 40:7
- In what did the Lord take no delight? Hebrews 10:6
- What is written of Jesus in the scroll? Hebrews 10:7
- What was the prayer of Jesus at the Mount of Olives? Luke 22:42
- What was Jesus’ food? John 4:34
- With what are sacrifices and offerings in accord? Hebrews 10:8
- What does Jesus say, and what has he done with the first to establish the second? Hebrews 10:9
- What was the new Law he established over which he was sorrowful? Matthew 26:38-39
- How have we been consecrated once and for all? Hebrews 10:10
- From what does his death cleanse us? Hebrews 9:14
Personal – Whose “will” do you follow on a daily basis? How often does it occur to you to ask for his will to be done? How often do you die to yourself to do the will of the Father on a daily basis?
FOURTH DAY READ LUKE 1:39-45 GOSPEL
(“Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”)
- Who traveled to the hill country to a town of Judah? Whose house did she enter, and whom did she greet? Luke 1:39-40
- What was Zechariah, where was his wife from, and what kind of people were they? Luke 1:5-6
- What was Zechariah told by the angel, and what did the child in her womb do when Mary greeted her? Luke 1:13, 41
- With what was Elizabeth filled? Luke 1:41
- With what was John filled, even from his mother’s womb? Luke 1:15
- To whom does the Father give the Holy Spirit? Luke 11:13
- What did Elizabeth cry out in a loud voice? Luke 1:42-44
- Who is the woman to be praised, and what will give her the praise? Proverbs 31:30-31
- What did Mary do to become blessed? Luke 1:45
- Who did Jesus say is blessed? John 20:29
- What confined all things under the power of sin, how was the promise given, and to whom was it given? Galatians 3:22
Personal – When were you filled with the Holy Spirit or became aware of his presence within you? Can those around you call you blessed, and if so, why? What effect has Mary’s response had on your life?
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
(“Rouse your power, and come to save us.”)
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
The prophet, Micah, assures a small, obscure town in Judea that it will be the birth place of the Messiah. Jerusalem’s leaders were obsessed with wealth and position. Micah not only prophesied that Jerusalem with its wealth and power would be besieged and destroyed, but that its king could not save it. In startling contrast, Bethlehem, a tiny town, would be the birth place of the only king who could save all of his people. The Messiah would be born as a baby in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-6) and eventually would reign as the eternal king.
The king that was defeated was Zedekiah, and he was the last of the kings in David’s line to sit on the throne in Jerusalem. Micah prophesied that the next king in David’s line would be the Messiah, and his kingdom would never end. The Messiah, although eternal, entered human history as the man, Jesus of Nazareth.
Today’s reading provides us with a very clear Old Testament prophecy of Christ’s coming. Micah tells us that the Messiah will be our peace (5:4). Jesus tells us that he is leaving us with a gift, a gift of peace of mind and heart, and the gift is not fragile like the peace of the world (John 14:27). So do not be afraid, fear is useless. What is needed is trust (Mark 5:36). Christ’s peace gives us assurance even though wars continue. We need to have no more fear of judgment, no more conflict and guilt. This is what the peace of Christ really means. You can dismiss anxiety, worry about nothing, pray about everything, and you will receive the peace (Phil. 4:6-7) of the “Messiah” which surpasses all understanding.
Today’s reading shows us that our link with God is not animal sacrifice. We are bound to God through a person and that person is Jesus Christ. We have in him a Savior, who shows us what our love must be like through his example. Animal blood could not take away sin; it could only take it out of sight until Jesus came to deal with it permanently.
The people in Old Testament times were forgiven of their sins, just as they are forgiven today, through God’s grace which they accepted through faith. The costly sacrifice of a valued animal’s life impressed upon the sinner the seriousness of his sin before God. Because Jesus shed his own blood for us, his sacrifice is far greater than an Old Testament offering. Christ came to offer for us his body upon the cross as a sacrifice completely acceptable to God.
Looking at the incredible gift that he has given us, we should be overwhelmed with a joyful desire to obey him. Today we see so many people trying to fill emptiness in their lives with drugs, alcohol, and immorality and becoming more empty. The only way one can become full and alive is to first become really clean and free. If your life is empty and confused, then fall on your knees and accept the incredible gift of forgiveness and salvation that was won for you through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He tells us in verse 9 of today’s reading that he has come to do the will of his Father, and that is, that we all be united with him through Jesus. He is the Way (John 14:6), and only he can set you free (John 8:32).
The miracle of love is in its sense of expectancy. Love is far more than a feeling, it is a decision that says “Yes.” Mary has just received the incredible news that she has been chosen to be the Mother of God. She tells the angel that she is the Lord’s servant, and she will do whatever is in accordance with his Word. She then waits, with the knowledge and expectation that she will bear the fruit the prophets had predicted.
Mary was to be the Mother of the God of her fathers, and all would call her blessed. And yet, in her waiting, she attends to her surroundings. Her cousin, Elizabeth, who was much older, was also expecting a child. Mary goes out to attend to her, and in her love she gives a signal of the love she bears with her. Elizabeth recognizes Mary’s desire to serve her, and in that service is the core of love called humility. Elizabeth tells Mary that blessed is her fruit, and Mary’s child became the instrument of salvation for the whole world.
This time of Advent, a time of waiting for the new coming of Christ in our own lives, is a time for us to be like Mary. We can share Mary’s blessing. Through us Christ can become real for others. Out there, right where you are, there is an Elizabeth who needs your visit. As you wait, like Mary waited, go out of yourself to others as she did. Who is your Elizabeth? Someone hungry, lonesome, angry or neglected? That person awaits your visit. You may not have to go any further than across the street, or just across the kitchen table. As we wait for the Christmas celebration, the promise of the prophets will once again be fulfilled. What will it bring you?
The first reading shows that God chose ordinary things and ordinary people to produce extraordinary results. The second reading tells us that salvation is a person and his name is Jesus Christ. The Gospel reveals that waiting is a decision to serve while waiting.
This week, let the humility of Mary be your model. You might look at the times you have to wait during the week, such as in traffic, in cafeteria lines at work, or waiting to see a teacher in school. The example that you show by your actions can be very powerful. Mary was very humble even though she knew that what had happened to her was very special. Give your family and friends a tremendous gift this Christmas time. Give them the gift of your humility, and Christ will come alive through you, and you will be blessed.