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 SIRACH 15:15-20 FIRST READING
(“To whatever you choose stretch forth your hand.”)
- Fill in the following blanks: _____you_________you can keep the commandments; it is________to do_____ ______. Sirach 15:15
- What is set before you __________, and what must you stretch forth? Sirach 15:16
- What is before man, and what will be given him? Sirach 15:17
- What three things must we do to choose life? Deuteronomy 30:20
- What happens to those who choose life? Deuteronomy 30:19-20
- Who shows us the way we must choose? Psalm 25:12
- What is immense, and in what is the Lord mighty? Sirach 15:18
- What do the eyes of God see and what does he understand? Sirach 15:19
- What does God command man NOT to do, and what specific sin does Sirach 15:20 tell you, for which God does not give you strength?
Personal – Do you ever feel you do not have a choice in certain matters? Read Sirach 15:14-15. Have you ever lied and blamed it on your background or someone else or even said, “The devil made me do it?” Meditate on this passage of scripture and confess any past sins of lying.
THIRD DAY READ 1 CORINTHIANS 2:6-10 SECOND READING
(“Yet God has revealed this Wisdom to us through the Spirit.”)
- What is it that is expressed among the spiritually mature? 1 Corinthians 2:6
- Is it a wisdom of this age? 1 Corinthians 2:6
- Who are passing away? 1 Corinthians 2:6
- What is it we utter? 1 Corinthians 2:7
- To whom has he revealed this wisdom?
- Why did God plan his wisdom before all ages? 1 Cor. 2:7
- Did the rulers of this age know the mystery? 1 Cor. 2:8
- What would they not have done if they had known God’s wisdom? 1 Corinthians 2:8
- What is written of this wisdom? 1 Corinthians 2:9
- Through whom has God revealed this wisdom? 1 Cor. 2:10
- What does the Spirit do? 1 Corinthians 2:10
Personal – How do you anticipate the exciting things God has planned for you each day? How do you show your love for God, other than sitting alone with him and talking to him?
FOURTH DAY READ MATTHEW 5:17-37 GOSPEL
(“Whoever fulfills and teaches these commands shall be great in the kingdom of God.”)
- What did Jesus say he did not come to do, and what did he say he came to do? Matthew 5:17
- How did he fulfill the law, and of what did he assure them? Romans 3:21-31, Matthew 5:18
- What will the person who breaks these commands, and teaches others to do so, be called in the kingdom of God? What will the person who fulfills these commands and teaches these commands be in the kingdom of God? Matthew 5:19
Personal– What makes you to be considered great in the kingdom of God? In what way do others see you walking by faith? How are you teaching your spouse, children, friends, and family, etc., to walk by faith?
- What must surpass the scribes and Pharisees, and what will happen to those whose holiness does not surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees? Matthew 5:20
- What was the commandment imposed on our forefathers? Matthew 5:21
- What three things does Jesus say to us in Matthew 5:22; and by becoming angry, by using abusive language, and by being contemptuous toward our brother, what do we risk? Matthew 5:22
- If you bring your gift to the altar and there recall that your brother has something against you, what must you do? Matthew 5:24
- What does Jesus say about time, what will your opponent do if you lose time in going to him, and what is Jesus’ warning? Matthew 5:25-26
Personal– Have you ever been angry, used abusive language, and been contemptuous to those in your family? Did you settle the matter right away or did you let it continue for days? You have the choice; think about it.
- What commandment is he talking about in Matthew 5:27, and what does Jesus say about it? Matthew 5:28
- What must we throw away in order not to destroy the whole body? Matthew 5:29-30
- What does Jesus say about divorce, and what was the commandment imposed on our forefathers? Matthew 5:31-33
- What did Jesus say about this, and what are heaven, earth, and Jerusalem? Matthew 5:34-35
- By what else must we not swear? Matthew 5:36
- What should we say when we mean yes and what should we say when we mean no. Whom does it come from when we say anything beyond that? Matthew 5:37
Personal– We know when we should say yes and when we should say no by God’s Holy Word. The answers on how to live your life are all written in his Word, the Bible. How much time do you spend each day praying and reading God’s Word? Pray and ask God to reveal his truth to you through the Bible.
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 119:1-2,4-5,17-18,33-34
(“Give me discernment that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34.
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
Sirach is one of the Wisdom books of the Old Testament. It is a very earthy and plain book that deals with morality and the true religious philosophy of life. The practicality of this book has much wisdom even for the people of today. The gift of free will comes from God and it is a precious gift. We know that we can serve God by keeping his commandments, or to reject his authority and, in turn, reject him.
God loves us so much that he will not take away that gift of free will from us; because, if he did, we would be like the dumb beasts in the jungle. Today’s message is telling us that we can keep God’s commandments, and we know that because he tells us he will always be there (John 15:7). We can choose evil but we cannot say we could not help ourselves because we would be trying to say that we did not have a choice. We may fool our friends, family, or even society with this false line of defense; but our all-wise, all-loving, and all-knowing God cannot be deceived.
We are compelled to always remember that our God is a God of love, and our religion is a religion of love, not fear. We do good things because we choose not to offend our beloved God who loves us even when we make bad choices. Love is a decision and when we do not have a choice to decide, it is no longer love that motivates us.
Christians are motivated by the knowledge that God has chosen to love us first, and that he never stops loving us. We may favorably reflect on this incredible kind of benevolent love that he has for us and choose to respond to his love with our “yes” to his Holy Word. You may have some terrible pages in your book of life, but you have the option to choose and to tear these pages out by coming back to God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We choose to come back into the safe and loving arms of a forgiving Father, called “Abba,” when we turn to him and ask for his pardon.
1 CORINTHIANS 2:6-10
Paul was very emphatic that the Christian faith that the converted Corinthians had received was a gift from God. He stressed that they were converted from paganism not by any great skill of preaching or earthy philosophy, but by God. The mental outlook of the majority of today’s society is very similar to that of St. Paul’s time. Today, much is made of the earthly wisdom of our secular and religious leaders.
The philosophy of today is not centered on the cross of Calvary; on the contrary, it is concentrated on the centers of learning and trade. The big business tycoons of today are modern counterparts of the Roman slave-drivers. Today, in many parts of the world, the destiny of the poor is in the hands of those who are very wealthy. The things of God are openly denied and ridiculed. The power of money and guns seems to drown out the cry of the poor. Jesus called out to us and said, “What you do to the least of my brothers, you do unto me.” (Matthew 25:31-46)
We see the desire of choice becoming a choice of death for the unwanted unborn of our land. We have become so advanced in our technology that segregation and suppression of our weaker brothers and sisters are lost in the frenzy to have more of everything. This is a direct result of our ignoring the only true wisdom of life. God’s wisdom has been revealed in his incarnation; the modern man still thinks that his true happiness is centered here on earth. Man thinks that because he only has a few years here on earth, he has to go for the “gusto.” We can only be brought back to reality by a return to recognizing God’s plan for us.
The time we have here on earth is our journey to heaven. The more we reach out and help our fellow-travelers on this journey, the smoother will be our own trip. We must keep our path marked out by our heavenly Father, and we must practice brotherly love along the way. The majesty of what God has in store for those who love him is beyond our wildest dreams.
Christ is not calling for the removal of the Ten Commandments. He is telling his followers that their attitude must be righteous and more spiritual than that of the scribes and Pharisees. The moral value of any legal observance comes from the inferiority of the attitudes of those who observe and keep the law. Our compliance with the law does not honor God alone. Our attitude of love, reverence, and obedience to do his will is what honors God. This is the core of the law of Christianity. The old law of Moses is not abolished; it is deepened and given new meaning. To avoid murdering someone, or even injuring someone, is not enough; rather, we are called to help and prevent injury to anyone who is in distress wherever and whenever we can. To be someone who doesn’t commit adultery is not enough; we are called as Christians to respect and esteem purity. This includes not only purity in actions but also purity in thoughts.
Today, we hear a variety of ways to prevent infectious diseases, such as gonorrhea, syphilis, or AIDS. Why do we hear so little of purity, chastity, and Christian morality? We must be truthful people, not only to ourselves, but first to God (John 8:32). God’s laws were given to help people love God with all their hearts and minds (Deuteronomy 6:5). God’s law is a law of love, and love is a decision that begins with the mind. By Jesus’ time the religious leaders turned the law into a confusing mass of rules. Jesus spoke out against the abuses and excesses to which the law had been subjected. The Pharisees were content to obey the law outwardly and would not allow it to change their hearts. Jesus was saying that the quality of our hearts had to be greater than that of the Pharisees.
Today, we only have to look around to see the outward forms of piety being practiced, such as going to Mass, reciting the daily devotions, and seeing clergy praying the Office. This kind of obedience, while it is good, is not enough if there is no “metonoia” (a change of heart). Do people see us as the fruit of the Spirit because we keep the laws of God? If not, why not? We need to really listen as Jesus talks to us in this passage. He says that we will be held accountable for everything we do, everything we do not do, and every one of our thoughts.
Jesus is our source and our supply when we are being attacked by wrongful thoughts (Philippians 4:19). We can strike back against Satan by filling our minds with thoughts that are pure, good, and honorable (Philippians 4:8). Jesus tells us to be truthful and speak with veracity, and our need for promises and oaths will be reduced tremendously.
The first reading tells us that we have a “free will” and that we can make a choice. The second reading tells us that this gift of a “free will” is available to everyone. The gift of faith is open to all men, rich or poor, schooled or unschooled, sick or healthy. The Gospel tells us that the spirit or the intent of the law is what gives it power and success. A change of heart is what makes a law a proven value.
This week, let us show by our actions that a change of heart is taking place inside of us! Parents, this week, do not allow in your home any diversion, such as TV or video, that Jesus could not sit and watch, too. Children, do not talk or listen to any conversations in school or at work that Jesus could not listen to or talk about. All Adults – let whatever comes out of your mouth be words that will change other people’s thoughts to thinking about Jesus Christ.