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 BARUCH 5:1-9 FIRST READING
(“For God will show all the earth your splendor.”)
- What is Jerusalem to take off, and what is it to put on? Baruch 5:1
- What shall no longer enter Jerusalem? Isaiah 52:1
- In what shall Jerusalem be wrapped, what shall it have on its head, and what does that display? Baruch 5:2
- What was engraved on a seal that was tied over the miter? Exodus 39:30-31
- Why do we rejoice heartily in the Lord? Isaiah 61:10
- What will God show all the earth, and what will we be named by God forever? Baruch 5:3-4
- Who will Jerusalem see to the east, how were they gathered together from the east and the west, and about what will they rejoice? Baruch 5:5
- Who led your children away, and who will bring them back? Baruch 5:6
- What has God commanded so that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God? Baruch 5:7
- What has happened to Israel at God’s command, and how is He leading Israel? Baruch 5:8-9
Personal – What are the enemies that have led the children away in this day? How do you see God bringing them back? How has this affected your family?
THIRD DAY READ PHILIPPIANS 1:4-6, 8-11 SECOND READING
(“…how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.”)
- How are Paul and Timothy praying for the Philippians, and for what reason? Philippians 1:4-5
- What did the Philippians do at the beginning of the Gospel when Paul left Macedonia? Philippians 4:15
- About what are they confident? Philippians 1:6
- Who is Paul’s witness, and how does he long for the brothers? Philippians 1:8
Personal – Who do you long for with the affection of Christ?
- What is Paul’s prayer for the people of Philippi? Philippians 1:9
- What do you become filled with through all spiritual wisdom and understanding? Colossians 1:9
- What must you discern so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ? Philippians 1:10
- From what are you instructed in order to know his will, and what is important? Romans 2:18
- What are you filled with that comes through Jesus Christ, and for what reason? Philippians 1:11
- How is the Father glorified? John 15:8
Personal – Give specific examples of how you have glorified the Father.
FOURTH DAY READ LUKE 3:1-6 GOSPEL
(“…proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”)
- During whose reign and who was the governor when the Word of God came to John? Luke 3:1-2
- Whose son was John, and where did the Word of God come to him? Luke 3:2
- What did John do throughout the whole region of the Jordan? Luke 3:3; see also Matthew 3:1-2 and Mark 1:4
- What is evidence of repentance? Luke 3:8
- What leads us to repentance? Romans 2:4
- What does godly sorrow produce, and what does worldly sorrow produce? 2 Corinthians 7:10
- What is a voice crying out in the desert? Luke 3:4
- What will happen to the valleys, mountains, roads and rough ways? Luke 3:5
- What will happen to all flesh? Luke 3:6
- What has the Lord made known in fulfillment of what was written by the prophecy of Isaiah, and what has he revealed to the nations? Psalm 98:2
Personal – How has the Lord revealed to you personally that you have been saved from your sins? How have you come into godly sorrow or repentance for your sins?
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 126:1-6
(“The Lord has done great things for us.”)
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
Baruch was the well known secretary of Jeremiah, and in today’s reading he tells how God will lead a “new exodus” at the end of time, from east to west, to the ideal city of Jerusalem. He is telling the people who have been through exile, captivity, and total destruction that salvation is God’s gift and God’s holy work. He goes on to encourage them to accept this gift because if they do not they will become spiritual refugees.
Accepting the gift of salvation from God involves a conversion that turns all men toward their homeland. Today’s message is a message of consolation and hope. It is a call to come out of mourning and to trust in the Lord. It is a call to put on the cloak of justice and walk in the glory of the eternal name. It is a call to rise from the dirt and to shake yourself clean.
The people were being encouraged to stand on the heights or the shoulders of those who went before them into exile and keep their faith alive by staying very close to God’s Holy Word. They knew that no matter how difficult the times would get, their God would never forget them or abandon them.
God is leading all of his people who are being oppressed. The people in today’s reading knew that, and in today’s world that same God makes the same promise to his children of today. Jesus Christ is the light that has broken the darkness, and we follow him in his justice and mercy and finally in his glory.
PHILIPPIANS 1:4-6, 8-11
This reading clearly emphasizes that, for the Christian, evangelism is not a duty, it is a joy. This letter to the Philippians has been called an epistle of joy. It is with joy that Paul prays for his friends. The joy of Christian prayer is bringing those we love to the mercy seat of God. There is the joy that Jesus is preached in all parts of the world today. If Christianity does not make a man happy, then it will not make him anything at all. There is the joy of suffering for Christ in that it is a chance to demonstrate our trust in him and know that in our weakness is his strength. There is the joy of Christian hospitality. It is a great thing to have a door (your heart) from which the stranger and the one in trouble know that they will never be turned away.
Paul is seeing the life of every Christian as a sacrifice ready to be offered to Jesus Christ. We are called to make our bodies a living sacrifice acceptable to God (Romans 12:1). The task of the Christian then is to make his life fit to offer to Jesus Christ. Only the power of the Holy Spirit can empower us to do that. Paul tells us that we are also partners in grace. We are to share our common debt to God for always bestowing on us his healing, saving grace.
It was Paul’s prayer for his people that their love would grow and grow. To love is to know and to know is to learn. When we learn, we discover truth and truth is Jesus Christ, yesterday, today and forever.
Today’s Gospel sees it fitting to announce that in the loneliness of a terrible desert, the “Good News” of salvation was available for all those who repent. We see that Pilate, Herod and Caiphas were the most powerful leaders in Palestine. But they were upstaged by a desert prophet from Judea. God chose to speak through this loner, John the Baptist, who has gone down in history as greater than any of the rulers of his day.
Even today we often judge by our culture’s standards, – power, beauty, wealth, education – as in John’s time, and miss the really special people through whom God works. Greatness is not measured by what we have, but by what we do for God. We can be like John the Baptist and give ourself entirely to God so his power can work through us. Mother Teresa has a saying that is very appropriate to our world today, “Unless life is lived for others, it is not worthwhile.”
John the Baptist’s whole life was lived to tell others that the time to repent has come to all. We must realize that repentance has two sides – turning away from sin and turning to God. Repentance does not mean “I am sorry;” it means “change.” To be forgiven we must repent. We just can not say we believe and then live any way we want to live, nor can we simply live a good moral life without reference to Christ. Forgiveness from sin is the message of repentance. Determine to rid your life of any sins God points out to you, and put your trust in him. You will be living for others because knowing you are saved makes your life worthwhile.
The first reading shows that those who refuse God’s gift of salvation become spiritual refugees. The second reading reveals joy as the infallible sign of the presence of God. The Gospel reveals that God calls on ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
This week, show your family that Advent is a time of changing, watching and preparation. Let the message of John the Baptist touch your heart and “Repent of your sins.” Right now, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what needs to change in you. Write down what it is, and if it is several areas, take one at a time. Share your journey with a non-judgmental person. You are that ordinary person whom God has chosen to do extraordinary things. Pray, thank, and accept from God the miracle that is going to take place in your life this Advent season.