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.
1. What was a helpful or new thought from the readings or from the homily you heard on Sunday?
2. From what you learned, what personal application did you choose to apply to your life this week?
SECOND DAY READ JEREMIAH 23:1-6 FIRST READING
(“As king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land.”)
1. What does the Lord say will happen to those who are shepherds and mislead and scatter the flock? Jeremiah 23:1-2
2. What does the shepherd who knows no discretion go after? Isaiah 56:11
3. What does the Lord say about those shepherds who pasture themselves? Ezekiel 34:1-2
Personal – In what way have you made a judgment on leaders in the church, and what do you need to do to rectify it?
4. What does the Lord say he will do for the remnants of his flock, and what will they do? Jeremiah 23:3
5. What will the Lord appoint or raise up for the flock, what will they no longer have need to do, and how many shall be lost? Jeremiah 23:4
6. What did the Son of Man come to do? Luke 19:10
7. What does the Lord say he will raise up, and what shall he do? Jeremiah 23:5
8. What will happen to Judah and Israel, and what is the name they will give him? Jeremiah 23:6
9. How is the king’s throne made firm? Proverbs 25:5
10. How will the Good Shepherd pasture his sheep? Ezekiel 34:14-16
Personal – In what way has Jesus drawn you to himself personally?
THIRD DAY READ EPHESIANS 2:13-18 SECOND READING
(“He came and preached the Good News of peace to you who were far off, and peace to those who were near.”)
1. How have we been brought close to one another? Ephesians 2:13
2. What did Jesus do through his flesh? Ephesians 2:14
3. What did Jesus make for us by the blood of his cross? Colossians 1:20
4. How was peace established? Ephesians 2:15
5. How were both circumcised (Jew) and uncircumcised (Gentile), reconciled to God? Ephesians 2:16
6. What has God given us through Christ? 2 Corinthians 5:18
7. What did Christ come preaching, and to whom did he preach? Ephesians 2:17
8. Where did Jesus say we will find peace, and what has Jesus done with the world? John 16:33
9. How do we have access to the Father? Ephesians 2:18
10. What must we have in Jesus that gives us boldness and confidence? Ephesians 3:12
Personal – How do you approach the Father in prayer? In what way are you at peace with yourself and those around you?
FOURTH DAY READ MARK 6:30-34 GOSPEL
(“…and he began to teach them many things.”)
1. With whom did the Apostles gather together, and what did they tell him? Mark 6:30
2. What are the names of Jesus’ Apostles? Matthew 10:2
3. What did Jesus say to his Apostles, and what was keeping them from even eating? Mark 6:31
4. What day did God give to Moses as a designated day of rest? Exodus 31:15
5. What does Jesus say he will do for the tired and weary? Matthew 11:28-29
Personal – Where do you go, and what do you do when you are tired?
6. Where did Jesus and his Apostles go, and what did the people do? Mark 6:32-33
7. What was Jesus’ reaction to the vast crowd when he got out of the boat? Mark 6:34
8. On whom does the Lord have pity? Psalm 72:13
9. To whom are the people being compared, and what did Jesus do for them? Mark 6:34
10. Who teaches us and reminds us of what Jesus says? John 14:26
Personal – On a daily basis, in what way do you go to the Lord for direction in your life? Is your tiredness from caring for others or from caring for yourself? Reflect on this.
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 23:1-6
(“Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshed my soul.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 23:1-6.
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
Today’s reading was an indictment against not only the civil leaders, but also against the religious leaders. Jeremiah lashed out at the religious leaders and told them that they were going to be held responsible by God for not showing his people how to follow the path of goodness. Jeremiah then gave his people a warning that certainly holds true for all of us today. Jeremiah’s warning was that all leaders would be held responsible for those entrusted to their care. Take a moment right now and reflect on whom God has placed in your care, and how you are handling this responsibility.
Jeremiah really shows us the contrast between the corrupt spiritual leaders of his time and with the coming Messiah. He then goes on to tell us that the new spiritual king would come from the line of a shepherd called David. The major cause of the corruption of the people was the false prophets who told the people that all was well and that they were very civilized and humane. Jeremiah’s message from God was very unpopular because it showed the people how sinful they really were.
Today there are many false prophets running around the world trying to “tickle” the people’s ears with the same message that all is well. These false prophets may talk God’s message but they do not live his message. They may even look like they are living the message, but the proof will be in their daily actions. We can judge today’s prophets just like they did in the time of Jeremiah, and that is seeing how they live, teach, and preach in accordance with God’s holy word. The false prophets water down God’s message to make it easier to swallow. They encourage their followers to subtly disobey God, the church and civil authority. They try to appeal to the desires of their audience instead of being true to God’s holy word.
This reading shows us that only the peace of Christ can bring down the barriers of distrust. We have seen how the Jews despised and hated the Gentiles and through Christ that hatred is killed and a new unity has come. Before Christ’s coming, Gentiles and Jews kept apart from each other. Jews considered Gentiles beyond God’s saving power and therefore, without hope. Gentiles resented Jewish claims of spiritual superiority. Christ revealed the sinfulness of both Jews and Gentiles, and then he offered his salvation equally to both.
Only Christ breaks down the walls of prejudice and unites all in one body. Spiritual pride is very much alive today and binds us to our own faults and magnifies the faults of others. Do not be proud of your salvation. Instead, humbly thank God for what he has done, and encourage others not to give up. Jesus has broken down the walls people build between themselves. (Real reconciliation comes when one realizes that because Christ died that all might be free, then all who believe in him really are one family.) The walls come down when we approach God through his Holy Spirit.
The barriers that divide us from other Christians today are age, appearance, political and economic status, race, creed and color. The cross of Christ should be the focus of our unity. The Holy Spirit will help us to stretch ourselves beyond the barriers to the unity we are called to enjoy. The Jews were “near” to God because they already knew him through scripture and worship. The Gentiles were “far away” because they knew little or nothing about God. Neither group could be saved by good works or sincerity. In fact, salvation is available only through Jesus Christ. It is this incredible gift of Christ dying on the cross for all people that has made the gift of freedom available to all.
Today’s Gospel shows us that we need to be balanced in all that we do, especially when we are doing the work of the Lord. We see the Apostles trying to share with Jesus all of their experiences and the crowd seems to be pressing in on them. Jesus recognizes that his disciples need rest, and he invites them to come with him and take some time out for rest and meditation. The crowds saw where they were headed and ran ahead to be there when they arrived. We cannot work effectively unless we have our time of rest, and rest and sleep will not come unless we have worked until we are tired.
Today’s passage reveals to us two dangers of life. First, there is the danger of doing too much. No man or woman can work without proper rest and quiet time in prayer with God. Much of the trouble in our own lives is that we do not know how to be still and listen (Psalm 46:10). We need to ask ourselves how we can do God’s work without God’s strength in us. And how can we receive that strength unless we take the time to be alone and pour out our needs, and spend time in prayer and praise with Jesus Christ.
Then we also must recognize the second danger, and that is the danger of too much withdrawal. Prayer time that does not lead to action is not real prayer. Remember, in scripture Jesus did not pray for the disciples to be taken out of the world. He prayed that they would win over the world (John 17:11-19). We must never seek the fellowship of God in order to avoid the fellowship of man. Jesus knew his disciples needed rest because the crowds were going to be draining their strength again. He knows how weak we are, and he invites us to spend time alone with him. He will heal us and give us the rest and strength we need. A sheep without a shepherd has no defense against the dangers which threaten it. He is our Good Shepherd and we shall not want (Psalm 23:1).
The first reading tells us that accountability is for all the people. The second reading shows us that Jesus Christ breaks down all barriers. The gospel reveals that too much doing leaves too little being.
This week, take time to be rather than just to do. Spend some time with a family member, friend or associate, and concentrate on the other person’s needs, not your own. Every day, spend time alone in prayer and reading scripture with Jesus.
Take time to relax and rest with your family. Remember, a devoted Christian is a balanced Christian.