CATHOLIC BIBLE STUDY
THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT – CYCLE B
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)
This week’s first reading tells us that our God is a God who comforts. The second reading reveals that God deals with each one of us mercifully. The Gospel shows that the response to repentance leads to the power of forgiveness.
This week, let us acknowledge to those around us some of our very obvious flaws. Take a specific fault, like making judgments, and tell them that you are going to change, and if your friends see you being judgmental, to point it out to you in love. This will make a dramatic improvement with your loved ones, those in your work area or school. Be specific and pick the small flaws first, then pray and change (repent). Your change, not your words or tears, will bring forgiveness. Try this with smoking, drinking, lying, swearing, etc. Do something beautiful for God – change (repent).
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 ISAIAH 61:1-2, 10-11 FIRST READING
(“I rejoice heartily in the Lord.”)
- Where is the spirit of the Lord God, and what has the Lord done? Isaiah 61:1
- What has the Lord God sent me to do for the lowly and to
the broken hearted? Isaiah 61:1
- What do we proclaim to the captives and the prisoners?
- What was the passage read by Jesus in the synagogue, and
what did he say about it? Luke 4:18-19, 21.
- What did God do with Jesus? Acts 10:38
- What does the anointing we received from him do for us?
1 John 2:27-28
- What has he sent me to announce, and what are we to do to
all who mourn? Isaiah 61:2
- What do we do in our God who is the joy of our soul, and what has he done for us? Isaiah 61:10
- What will the Lord God make spring up before all the
nations? Isaiah 61:11
- What does the practice of justice do for the just?
- For what does the just man concern himself? Proverbs 29:7
Personal – How can you set free the captives within your environment and those who are locked into self-pity? How has the Lord sprung up justice and praise within you?
THIRD DAY READ 1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-24 SECOND READING
- What are we to do always? 1 Thessalonians 5:16
- What are we to do without ceasing? 1 Thessalonians 5:17
- To what did the apostles devote themselves, and who was
with them? Acts 1:14
- What does the Spirit do for us in our weakness?
- What do we do in all circumstances, whose will is it, and
in whom? 1 Thessalonians 5:18
- Whom do we not quench? 1 Thessalonians 5:19
- How do we grieve the Holy Spirit? Isaiah 63:10
- What are we not to despise, what are we to test, and
what are we to retain? 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21
- From what are we to refrain? 1 Thessalonians 5:22
- What do those who do evil see not fit to do, with what are they filled, and whom do they hate? Romans 1:28-31
- What may the God of peace make us, and how may we be
preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus
Christ? 1 Thessalonians 5:23
- What is the One who calls us, and what will he do?
1 Thessalonians 5:24
Personal – For what did you give thanks today, and from what evil did you refrain this week?
FOURTH DAY READ JOHN 1:6-8, 19-28 GOSPEL
(“Make straight the way of the Lord.”)
- Who sent the man named John, and to what was he to testify? John 1:6-7
- What had John seen, and to what did he testify?
- What was John not, but what was he to do? John 1:8
- Who is the light, and what will he who follows him
have? John 8:12
- When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask John who he was, what did he say? John 1:19-20
- What did the priests and Levites ask John, and what was his answer? John 1:21
- What was John’s response to the priests and Levites, and what did the Prophet Isaiah say? John 1:23, Isaiah 40:3
- For what are we to make straight paths, and why?
- In response to the Pharisee’s question, with what did John say he baptizes, and whom did he say they do not recognize? John 1:26
- What does John say he is not worthy to do to the One coming after him, and where did this take place? John 1:27
- Who is not worthy of Jesus? Matthew 10:37-38
Personal – In what way have you prepared the way of the Lord to those around you? Has your personal testimony been about Jesus in your life?
FIFTH DAY READ LUKE 1:46-50, 53-54
(“…my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”)
Read and meditate on Luke 1:46-50, 53-54.
What is the Lord saying to you personally through this reading?
How can you apply this to your life?
SIXTH DAY READ ALL OF THE COMMENTARY
ISAIAH 61:1-2, 10-11
This passage of Isaiah was read by Jesus in Luke 4:18. He stopped his reading to the people in the synagogue in the middle of Chapter 61:2, after the words, “The time of God’s favor has come.” Jesus closed the book and said, “These scriptures came true today.” (Luke 4:21). The rest of Isaiah 61:2, “and the day of his wrath to his enemies,” will come true when Jesus returns to earth again. It is important for us to realize that we are now under God’s favor and his wrath is yet to come.
Today’s reading is good news for those who suffer because the Spirit of God is upon those who will go forth and help all those who are suffering. Read Verses 1 and 2 and put your name in place of “me.” “The Spirit of God is upon you and he has anointed you to bring the good news to the suffering and afflicted, he has anointed you to comfort the brokenhearted.” Maybe someone right in your own family is suffering, and you will be the one to bring the “Good News” of hope to them. All you need to do is say, “Yes, Lord, come into my heart, take up residence in me.”
Take the time right now, wherever you are, and confess your sins and repent, and let the grace of God fill you with his Holy Spirit. Are you aware that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you (1 Cor. 3:16) because of your baptism? Now God is filling you up with his Spirit so that his love can overflow through you and spill on to his hurt and broken people. You will open the eyes of the blind because you are carrying the light of the world within you. Remember, my beloved brothers and sisters, the Spirit of God is upon us and he has anointed us. He has clothed us with his garment of salvation and has draped his robe of righteousness about us.
1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-24
In today’s reading we see that in all of our circumstances, joy, prayer, and thanksgiving should not go up or down because of feelings. These three commands to “be joyful, keep on praying, and continue to be thankful” often go against our natural inclinations. We can expect to be joyful and thankful when we are following God’s will because it is his power that flows through us and it is in his hands that we place our cares (1 Peter 5:7). We will always find it much easier to be joyful, thankful, and full of prayer when we really put our trust in the Lord.
We know that we cannot spend all of our time on our knees in prayer, but it is possible to have a prayerful attitude all of the time. We build this attitude on admitting our dependence on God, realizing that his presence is right there in front of us, behind us, above us, below us and within us. We must choose to obey him fully. It is not enough to talk about Christ, we must also walk with Christ. We will then find it natural to pray frequent, spontaneous short, and very meaningful prayers. Remember that an attitude of prayer is not a substitute for our alone, “quiet” time of prayer with Jesus. A prayerful attitude should be an extension of those times.
Paul was teaching us that we should be thankful in everything that happens to us. We are thankful always because God IS and for the good he can bring out through the time of distress. We are told not to “smother the Holy Spirit” or not to ignore or toss aside the gifts the Holy Spirit has given to us. Sometimes spiritual gifts are controversial and cause division in a church. Paul mentions the gift of prophecy, and he encourages all to use the full expression of these gifts in the body of Christ.
Let us never make fun of those who do not agree with what we profess to believe. Let us also check their works against sacred scripture and sacred tradition. We do not allow Christ to control us only on a religious level. We are called to let Christ control all of us at all times, under all circumstances.
JOHN 1:6-8, 19-28
This Gospel message is really a message of “Good News.” It is a message of a light that has come to penetrate the darkness of the world, and especially the darkness of people’s hearts. The light is Jesus, and John the Baptist gave witness to the light. We are called to carry out our role, today, as reflectors of Christ’s light. We are never to present ourselves as the light to others, but always as John the Baptist did, point them to Christ the Light.
We need to remember always that Jesus was the creator of life, and his life brings light to a fallen mankind. In his light you and I see ourselves as we really are (sinners in need of a savior). We may say to ourselves that we do not do all those terrible things that bad people do, but we must never forget that scripture tells us that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Some sins seem bigger than others, and all sins make us sinners, and all sins cut us off from our Holy God. Do not minimize “little” sins. They all separate us from God, but they all can be forgiven. When we follow Jesus Christ, the Light, we can avoid walking and falling blindly into sin. His life and deeds have lit the path of life for all of us. He, in mercy and righteousness, removes the darkness of sin from our lives.
Have you allowed the light of Christ to shine in your life? Today, I challenge you to let Jesus Christ bring light into your life and you will never need to stumble in darkness again.
The first reading reveals that the Spirit of the Lord is upon us. In the second reading, we are called to be joyful, prayerful, and thankful in all circumstances. In the Gospel, Jesus is the Light, and we are called to reflect that light.
Look around you at your family, relatives, friends, or community and pick out someone who is hurting, alone or imprisoned. Write or visit that person and tell him that you will continue to pray for him and, if possible, with him. You may be able to take someone to Mass or bring Eucharist to someone. You may be able to read this week’s lesson to someone who cannot see or read. Remember, you are called to reflect the Light of Jesus, and his Holy Spirit has anointed you. Go forth and make disciples of all nations, (Math. 28:19), especially those in your own family.