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 JOSHUA 5:9-12 FIRST READING
(“Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you.”)
- What did the Lord tell Joshua he had removed from them that day? Joshua 5:9
- What has the Lord removed from those who fear him? Psalm 103:12
- Where were the Israelites encamped, and what did they celebrate on the evening of the fourteenth of the month? Joshua 5:10
- What was prescribed by the Lord on the fourteenth day of the month? Exodus 12:5-6, 11
- What did the Israelites eat the day after the Passover? Joshua 5:11
- For what are we to work, and who gives it to us? John 6:27
- What did Jesus say is true food and drink, and what happens to whoever eats and drinks it? John 6:55-56
- On that same day, after the Passover, what ceased? Joshua 5:12
- How long did they eat the manna? Exodus 16:35
- How long will you live if you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood? John 6:49-51
Personal – What has been removed from you that allows you to participate in communion on Sunday? In your life, what shows that communion is more important than the food on your table?
THIRD DAY READ 2 CORINTHIANS 5:17-21 SECOND READING
(“So, we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.”)
- What is “whoever is in Christ,” and what has happened to the old things? 2 Corinthians 5:17
- To those who accepted Christ, what did he give them the power to become? John 1:12-13
- How have we been reconciled to God, and what has he given us the ministry of? 2 Corinthians 5:18
- What were we when we were reconciled to God, and how were we saved? Romans 5:10-11
- What did God not count, and what did he entrust to us? 2 Corinthians 5:19
- What does David declare, and who is blessed? Romans 4:6-8
- What are we for Christ, and what is Paul imploring the people to be? 2 Corinthians 5:20
- How does Paul want to make known the mystery of the Gospel, and what does that make him in chains? Ephesians 6:19-20
- For whose sake did God make Jesus become sin even though he did not know sin, and what did that make us? 2 Cor. 5:21
- What is Jesus able to do and for what reason? Hebrews 4:15
Personal – If God has entrusted to you the message of reconciliation, how have you shared and acted upon that message to those around you?
FOURTH DAY READ LUKE 15:1-3,11-32 GOSPEL
(“But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again.”)
- Who was drawing near to listen to Jesus, and what were the Pharisees and scribes complaining about? How did he address them? Luke 15:1-3
- In the parable Jesus told, what happened to the younger son? What did the man long to eat? Luke 15:11-16
- Coming to his senses, what did he decide to do, and what was he going to say to his father? Luke 15:17-19
- With what was his father filled when he saw his son, and what did he do? Luke 15:20
- On who does the Lord have compassion? Psalm 103:13
- What did the son say to the father, and what did the father do and say about the son? Luke 15:21-24
- What were we following that made us dead in our own transgressions, and how were we brought to life? Ephesians 2:1-5
- What was the older son’s reaction to all the dancing and festivities for the younger son? Luke 15:25-28
- What did the father do at the older son’s reaction, and what did he say to his father? Luke 15:29-30
- What did the father say belonged to the older son, and why did he say it was time to celebrate? Luke 15:31-32
- What is the will of our heavenly Father, and how should we not feel over one of his little ones? Matthew 18:10-14
Personal – With whom do you relate in this gospel, and why?
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 34:2-7
(“Look to him that you may be radiant with joy.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 34:2-7.
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 Israelites were ready to soon enter into the promised land after spending 39 years in the wilderness unnecessarily because they were afraid and underestimated God’s ability. The Canaanites heard about Israel’s great victories through God (crossing the Red Sea) and were terrified of them. Do not underestimate God. If we are faithful to him, as Joshua and the Israelites were faithful, then God can cause great opposition to melt away. God can change the attitudes of those who oppose us.
The Lord spoke to Joshua and told him that he was to circumcise all the males in his camp because that was the sign of the covenant with him. Then the angel spoke to Joshua and told him to prepare for battle and to listen to God’s plan only. They celebrated the feast of Passover before they went on to the battle of Jericho. The celebration reminded them of who they were, and what happened to get them that far.
This was the first celebration of the Passover in the Promised Land. The Israelites remembered how God was with them in their times of danger and hunger. They were now in a land that was overflowing with fruit, vegetables, and water. They knew that God has miraculously provided this land for them. They knelt and in prayer they thanked God for keeping their faith strong enough to get through the wilderness.
They knew, and it is important for us to know too, that prayer is not an alternative to preparing for what needs to be done, and faith is not a substitute for hard, honest work. God can and does provide us with miracles, but he expects us to use our God-given talents and resources to provide for others and ourselves.
2 CORINTHIANS 5:17-21
Christians are brand-new people on the inside when they become baptized. The Holy Spirit dwells within them and gives them a new life, and they are no longer the same. When we become baptized and a new child of the Lord, we are not reformed, rehabilitated or reeducated: we are brand-new creations, living in complete union with Christ (Colossians 2:6,7). It does not mean we are turning over a new leaf when we are baptized. It means we are beginning a new life under a new Master. We are reconciled to God by his wiping out of our sins, or original sin if one is being baptized as a child. We are made righteous. We are no longer strangers or foreigners when we trust in God.
Because we have been reconciled to God, we now have been given the privilege of encouraging others to do the same. We are called to be ambassadors for Christ, and this means we are to be his representatives. As ambassadors of Christ, we are sent with his message of reconciliation to the world. We need not take this responsibility lightly because a hungry, broken, poor, and oppressed world anxiously and hopefully awaits us. How do you see yourself in the role of Christ’s ambassador?
While you trust in Christ, you make a trade: your sins for his goodness. He took on unto himself all of our sins at Calvary, and we received his righteousness that he has poured out for us at our conversion. This is what Christians mean when they talk about Christ’s atonement for sin. Let us fall on our knees and give God our total gratitude for making this marvelous trade available for us.
LUKE 15:1-3, 11-32
Today’s Gospel shows us the conflict between the Pharisees’ way of treating a sinner and Jesus’ way. To people who did not keep the law, a label called “The people of the land” was given to them. These people were shunned by most Orthodox Jews. A Pharisee was forbidden to have anything to do with a known sinner. They were shocked at the easy way that Jesus got along with them. Their attitude was that to eat with a sinner, to talk to a sinner and to be with sinners must mean that you, too, were a sinner. Their philosophy was to destroy the sinner before God.
Jesus, of course, believed in saving the sinner and told them a story about a young man who was very rebellious to his family. Jewish law stated that the oldest son must get twice as much inheritance money as all the other sons combined. In this story the younger of two sons demanded his share of the money. He was bored and lazy and wanted to leave home to go and enjoy the outside world. He soon ran through the money, and he finished up feeding the pigs at a local farm. This was a job that was forbidden to a Jew because the law stated, “Cursed is he who feeds the swine.
The turning point in the story came when the young man came to his senses and said that he was a sinner. He came back home, not to ask if he could be a son again or even a slave, because there still was some kind of tie to the family being even a slave. But he asked to be a paid servant who had no status or security, only day-to-day existence. He knew that he was a sinner, so he confessed and was repentant.
The father saw the son coming and rushed out to meet his repentant son. His father put a robe of honor on his son, a ring that gave him unlimited buying power, and shoes (a slave or hired servant had no shoes). A feast was ordered so that all might rejoice in that a sinner was lost but now was found, or as the father put it, “My son was dead, but now he is alive.” We must never forget that the love of God can defeat even the deliberate rebellion of the heart.
The first reading shows all men that we are not to under-estimate the ability of God. The second reading reveals that a Christian is not reformed or rehabilitated but is a brand-new creation of almighty God. The Gospel says the Pharisees believed in destroying the sinner, but Jesus believed in saving the sinner.
This week let people around you see Christ-like actions, not Pharisee-type actions. Show others by your mercy, by your ability to listen, by your not joining in the gossip, and by showing joy when someone apologizes for something they have done wrong. Jesus believed that love will conquer all forms of evil, and your actions will prove to the “people of the land” that he is right. Jesus loved and saved, and you are called to do no less.