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 ACTS 15:1-2, 22-29 FIRST READING
(“It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,”)
- What did some men from Judea begin to teach the brothers in Antioch? Acts 15:1
- Where did circumcision originate among the Jews? Genesis 17:1-14
- Among whom did this teaching cause dissension? Acts 15:2
- What did Paul, Barnabas, and some of the brothers decide to do about this dissension and where did they go? Acts 15:2-3
- What caused the controversy between them? Acts 15:5, 11
- What was resolved by the apostles and the presbyters, with whom were they in agreement with, and what were they to deliver? Acts 15:22-23
- After they sent their greetings, what was it they said they had heard? Acts 15:24
- What did they unanimously resolve to do? Acts 15:25
- To whom had they dedicated their cause and, how were they to convey this message? Acts 15:26-27
- Whose decision was it not to lay on them any burden beyond that which is strictly necessary? Acts 15:28
- What four things were they advised to avoid? Acts 15:29
Personal – In what way have church members, not under the authority of the church, put a burden on you? How could you resolve this?
THIRD DAY READ REVELATIONS 21:10-14,22-23 SECOND READING
(“I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb.”)
- Who was carried away and how was he carried away? Rev. 1:1, Rev. 21:10
- Where was he taken, what was he shown, and what did the city look like? Rev 21:10-11
- Who is the designer and maker of this city? Hebrews 11:10
- Describe the following from Revelation 21:12:
How many gates on the walls?_____________________________
Who were stationed at the gates?
What was written on the gates?
Whose names were written there?___________________________
- Who were the twelve tribes of Israel and where were the gates located? Ezekiel 48:30-35, Revelation 21:13
- The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation. Whose names were on them? Revelation 21:14
- Who were the twelve apostles of the Lamb and who is the Lamb? Matthew 10:2-4, John 1:29, Acts 1:20-26
- What did John not see, and what did he see as a temple? Revelation 21:22
- Of what did the city have no need of and what gave it light? Revelation 21:23
- Who is our lamp and who is the light for our path? Rev 1:23, Psalm 119:105, and John 1:1,14
Personal – Picture what heaven will look like from what you have just read and studied. How do you think you will respond when you enter its gates? In what way have you been enlightened here and now? How do your family, friends, work acquaintances, or people you come in contact with during the day see the light of Christ in you as his walking, living temple?
FOURTH DAY READ JOHN 14:23-29 GOSPEL
(“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”)
- If you love Jesus, to what will you be true, who will love him, and who will come to him? John 14:23
- Notice in verse 23, it says “we will come to him.” To whom is this verse referring, when it says we? John 14:11, 17, 26
- Where will the Spirit make his dwelling place? John 14:17,23
- Who is it that does not love Jesus, and where does the Word you hear come from? John 14:24
- While Jesus was with them, what did he tell them? John 14:26
Personal – As you began this study did you read or pray John 14:26. Of what has he reminded you?
- What is Jesus farewell to you and his gift to you, and what does he tell you not to be? John 14:27
- What does Jesus say in verse 28 of John 14?
- If you love Jesus, what would you do when he goes to the Father? John 14:28
- Who is greater than Jesus? John 14:28, John 10:29
- Why was he telling them before this took place? John 14:29
Personal – In what specific way have you obeyed the command to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12), in your family, with your friends, at work or school? In what way have you shown your love for the Father?
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 67:2-3, 5-6, 8
(“For you govern the peoples justly,”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8.
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
ACTS 15:1-2, 22-29
Christianity would have become nothing other than a sect of Jews if the condition that new Christians had to be circumcised first was upheld. There were certain Jews who could never forget their positions as the chosen people. They were willing to accept Gentiles into the church provided they were circumcised first. Paul and Barnabas argued strongly against this attitude and a violent collision seemed inevitable.
An appeal was made to Jerusalem, the headquarters of the church, for a ruling. The principle at stake was quite simple. Was the gift of God for the chosen few or for the entire world? Was the gift of God a privilege or a responsibility? Certain Pharisees who had become Christian insisted that all converts must be circumcised and keep the Mosaic law.
The Mosaic law of Moses stated that on the eighth day the flesh of a male child’s foreskin shall be circumcised (Leviticus 12:3). This was submitting of one’s flesh to the covenant that originated between God and Abraham (Gen. 17:14). Peter stood up to the apostles and elders and told them that the new covenant is fulfilled by believing the word of the Gospel.
God who knows the heart bore witness to them giving the Gentiles the Holy Spirit, just as he also did to us. This was a circumcision of faith, a cutting off of one’s pride and submitting to the will of the Lord. Peter told them that they were saved through the Grace of the Lord Jesus and so also were the Gentiles saved the same way.
The church leaders stated that the men who disturbed the brothers were not given instruction, or authority, to do what they did. The church leaders, inspired by the Holy Spirit, decided to send authorized representatives with Paul and Barnabas. They did not want to lay upon them a greater burden than the essentials which are: they shall abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from illicit sexual union.
Today we still can look to the essentials for guidance for our daily living. We are not to sacrifice ourselves to idols such as jobs, power, sex, or money. We are called to stop eating and drinking ourselves into gluttony and sickness. We are called to be chaste in our actions as well as in our thoughts. We must turn away from illicit sexual union such as homosexuality, fornication, pornography, adultery, pre-marital sex, etc.
The controversy about keeping the law is still with us today. There still exists divisions between believers and church authorities. The authoritative teachings of the church are meant to protect the people as well as to preserve the true deposit of faith.
REVELATION 21:10-14, 22-23
John draws much of his imagery from Isaiah Chapter 65:17-24. In this chapter a new heaven is created, things of the past are not remembered, and there is rejoicing and no sadness or pain. John is not concerned about interspace travel or geophysics. Heaven exists because of the moral relationship between God and man.
God has taken the initiative and is the cause of the new order or as we call it the “New Jerusalem” or Heaven. God began by walking with man in the garden of paradise. He sought to dwell near man in the ark and the temple. He made man the holy of holies through his Incarnation. But these former things all passed away when he begins to dwell with them in the immediate personal intimacy of the “New Jerusalem.” John has, with much phraseology and repetition, attempted to convey the incomparable beauty of heaven through the use of earthly descriptions.
The radiance of Christ in his eternal home is so dazzling that the lights of the galaxy are not needed. The holy of holies was a cube twenty cubits high, wide, and deep. The cities of Babylon and Nineveh were square. Can you imagine a city as high as it is wide and long. One side would extend from Boston to Chicago (1500 miles). A fence 216′ high would hardly seem proportional around this gigantic cube of the heavenly city. We can see that earthly details pale when matched against the concept of spiritual symbolism. The author’s main intent is to convey that it is the Divine Presence, radiant and enlivening, that transforms the holy Jerusalem into purest splendor. God began with Paradise. John ends his portrayal of the celestial city with details borrowed from the paradise story. We might all picture ourselves as believers.
Before his passion and death, Jesus spoke words of comfort, love and obedience to his disciples. These words brought a sense of serenity and helped them to not be afraid. Jesus promised to provide for them by leaving with them “the Counselor,” “The Holy Spirit.” Jesus told them that the Father would send them the Holy Spirit in his name. He told them that the Holy Spirit would teach them all things and help them to remember all that he taught them (John 14:26). We have been made by faith, through Gods action in the sacrament of Baptism, temples of the Holy Spirit.
Today, living a life conforming to the prompting of the Holy Spirit is not easy. We have so many distractions in our every day living, that only the Holy Spirit could empower us to remember with clarity the obedience that’s needed to walk the Christian walk. We need only to look around us and we can see very easily that unless we control our selfish desires and concerns by submitting them to the word of the Lord, they run wild, quickly overcoming any desire to know and experience God’s love.
We can’t split our desires evenly between God and the world; we must first seek the kingdom of God (Mt 6:33). We need to ask the Holy Spirit to teach us more about the healing, saving love of Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Pray that you will be open to receive the prompting of the Holy Spirit and to follow and experience the incredible love of Jesus.
The first reading tells us that the gift of God was not for a chosen few, but for the entire world. The second reading reveals that Heaven exists because of the moral relationship between God and man. The Gospel shows us that the power to walk the Christian walk can only come from the Holy Spirit.
This week, show those around you at work, at home or in school that God’s gift to you has brought you freedom of choice. Choose to love your neighbors, family and friends as yourself. With the power of the Holy Spirit, you can also choose to love your enemies. We can only do this when we seek his kingship first and then everything else is added (Mt 6:33). Remember, the Holy Spirit will teach you in all things (John 14:26).