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 ISAIAH 8:23‑9:3 FIRST READING
(“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”)
- What lands has he degraded? See if you can locate this on your bible map Isaiah 8:23
- What happened in the end, what land has he glorified, and what shall be taken away? Isaiah 8:23
- What happened to the people who walked in darkness? Isaiah 9:1
- Who brightens the darkness about us? 2 Samuel 22:29
- What must we do to come out of the darkness and into the light, according to the following scriptures:
Personal ‑ How have you come out of the darkness into the light? 1 Peter 2:9 states, “You, however, are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people he claims for his own to proclaim the glorious works of the one who called you from darkness into his marvelous light.” Meditate on this.
- What has he brought them or what is the result of walking in the light? Isaiah 9:2
- How did the following experience this abundant joy and in whom did they find this joy?
David (Psalm 16:7‑11)
Mary (Luke 1:46-47)
John the Baptist (John 3:29‑30)
Paul (Philippians 1:18)
- What had burdened them? Isaiah 9:3
- What does Jesus tell us about his yoke? Matt 11:28‑30
Personal ‑ In what way have you found life become heavy and burdensome? Write out the above verse and meditate on it.
- What got smashed and what comparison is made here? Isaiah 9:3, Exodus 18:1
THIRD DAY READ 1 CORINTHIANS 1:10‑13, 17 SECOND READING
(In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ agree in what you say.”)
- Who is being appealed to, by whom, and in whose name? 1 Corinthians 1:1, 10
- What is Paul begging them to do? 1 Corinthians 1:10
- How are we united with Christ? Romans 6:1‑5
- What unites us in mind in the following scriptures?
1 Corinthians 5:4
- What was Paul informed about and by whom? 1 Cor 1:11
- List the four men the people were quarreling over, and tell who they were. 1 Corinthians 1:12
- __________________________ John 1:36, 41
- __________________________ John 1:42
- __________________________ Acts 18:24‑25
- __________________________ 1 Corinthians 1:1
- What was Paul’s response to what they were quarreling about? 1 Corinthians 1:13
- What does God’s Word tell us about quarreling? Romans 13:12‑13
Personal ‑ How do you prevent yourself from quarreling with others over God’s Word? By studying his Word, you will find yourself quarreling less and standing more on the truths of his Word.
- Who sent Paul and what did he send him to do? 1 Corinthians 1:17
- How is he not to preach the Gospel? 1 Cor 1:17, 1 Corinthians 2:4
- What would happen to the cross if Paul spoke with “worldly wisdom? ” 1 Corinthians 1:17
Personal ‑ When you speak about God to your family, friends, work acquaintances, what do you talk about? Does it end up in quarreling and arguing or do you do as Paul did in 1 Cor. 2:1‑5? Reflect on this.
FOURTH DAY READ MATTHEW 4:12‑23 GOSPEL
(“Repent, the kingdom of God is close at hand.”)
- What did Jesus hear and what did he do? Matthew 4:12
- Where did he go when he heard the news about John? Matthew 4:13
- What was his reason for going there? Matthew 4:14
- What did Jesus begin to proclaim from that time on? Matthew 4:17
- What was John’s message in preparing for Jesus’ coming? Matthew 3:2
- What did Jesus say is at hand? Matthew 4:17, Luke 17:20‑21
Personal ‑ What does it mean to you to reform your life? What do you think “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” means? Do you have areas in your life that need changing? Sit before your heavenly Father and talk to him about this.
- Where was Jesus walking and what was he watching? Matthew 4:18
- What did he say to the two brothers? Matthew 4:19
- What did God say through the prophet Jeremiah? Jeremiah 16:16
Personal ‑ What must we do to become fishers of men? Fill in the blanks: __________ __________ ____________ and I will make you fishers of men. Matthew 4:19
- What was Peter and Andrew’s response to Jesus’ invitation and did they stop to think about it? Matthew 4:20
- As Jesus walked along, what did he notice? Matthew 4:21
- What were the two brothers doing and who was with them?
- Fill in the blanks. Matthew 4:21-22.
He _________________them, and ______________ they abandoned
their boat and _______________to_________________him.
- Where did Jesus tour and what did he do in their synagogues? Matthew 4:23
- There were three things that Jesus did according to Matthew 4:23. What were they?
Personal ‑ In your prayer time alone with Jesus, ask him to teach you his truths through his Word. Ask him to help you understand the good news of the kingdom and ask him for the gift of healing so that those in your family, your friends and your work acquaintances may come to better know him. Share this with someone.
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 27:1, 4, 13‑14
(“The Lord is my light and my salvation.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14.
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
This passage begins with the results of Israel being invaded by Assyria and ends with Isaiah’s prophecy about the coming Messiah. Isaiah was given a prophecy by the Lord that Israel and Syria, both very strong enemies of Judah, would fall to the Assyrians. Judah rejected this warning and experienced God’s wrath and punishment. Isaiah was even considered a traitor because he told the people to trust only in God, not some powerful conquering nation to the north. He even predicted the fall of Judah and watched the nation plunge into darkness and fear.
The people refused to consult God about their future and even began to blame God for their trials. Today many people still blame God for their problems of health, marriage, work, etc. We need to ask ourselves why do some act like the people in scripture (Is. 8:16‑21) and try to pass the blame off onto others. The darkness that the people were thrust into does not mean death necessarily, it may mean despair, trouble, anguish, defeat, rejection. Isaiah tells us in his prophecy (9:1‑6) that a Messiah is coming and despair, sorrow and trouble will come to an end.
The people in those times probably felt very much as most of us do when we are going through trials, and that is, will it ever end? We can say just what it says in Psalm 23, “Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” The Lord never promised us there would be no troubles, but he did promise that he would be right there to go through them with us, and lead us to safety.
We need to be like that today and we must follow him if we are to be led safely through the times of tribulation and trial. God promises a light to all those who live in the valley of the shadow of death and the light’s name is Jesus.
I CORINTHIANS 1:10‑13, 17
We see in today’s passage that Paul is not only an evangelist who preached God’s Word and helped form Christian community, but he also kept a life-time interest in their spiritual welfare. He begins by appealing to them as brothers in the Lord. We need to ask ourselves when we come up against quarreling or bickering, do we appeal to the one who has hurt us in the name of the Lord? We are to love our neighbor as ourself (Mt. 22:37) and that means to care about one another and to be ready to forgive one another in the name of the Lord.
Human nature is still the same today in that people are still fighting over who is the most important, or who deserves the most recognition. It had only been a few years since Jesus’ crucifixion, and factions and divisions were already forming in the new expanding church leaders. Personal pride was entering into their desire to follow Christ on the road to heaven. The pride and ambition shown in today’s message not only inflicts damage on that community but it has given ground to long-standing division in the Christian church even today.
The divisions in the church are a scandal to the followers of Christ and a tremendous obstacle to the conversion of unbelievers, which is the result of the actions of proud and arrogant men. We cannot call ourselves humble when we forget, by our actions, that Christ died for us all and that Christ is not and will not be divided. We are all being called to live out the life of Christ who, because of our baptism, now lives within us. In our prayers, we can ask God to give us the grace to come together in his saving name and bring his love to our neighbor which can result in the work of reunion between God and all of his children. God will surely hear and respond to the call that comes from his humble children.
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judah and returned home to Nazareth, his hometown. He didn’t stay long because of opposition and apathy of the local hometown people. He began his preaching ministry by going from one small town to another. He left Nazareth and headed for Capernaum which was to become his home base during his ministry in Galilee. Capernaum was a very busy city and Jesus’ message would be heard by many people. He also would be able to have more resources and support for his ministry. Isaiah’s prophecy (9:1‑2) was fulfilled in that Jesus was the light to the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, the region of Galilee in which Capernaum was located.
Matthew uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” out of respect to the Jews because in reverence they did not pronounce God’s name. Jesus probably meant the kingdom of heaven is near because when Jesus is in a man’s heart, the kingdom of God is definitely near. We need to know that we do not have to go out and search the wide world over to find God. He is right here within, and all we need to do is call out his name, confess with our lips and believe in our heart (Romans 10:10‑17). Jesus began his ministry where John the Baptist left off, and the message is the same today, “Turn from sin and turn to God.” When we become followers of Christ, we turn away from our self‑centeredness and self‑control.
Jesus called the brothers to come follow him and become fishers of men. He is calling us to do the same things. Are you going to fish or cut bait? These men probably had already heard about Jesus through his preaching in the area but after personally experiencing his love, and hearing his call, they immediately responded to the invitation.
Jesus is teaching, preaching, and healing today as much as he was in today’s Gospel. He is teaching us how to bring others to him and be saved. He is preaching the Good News through his people today, like you and me. He certainly is healing people today, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Jesus preached the Good News to everyone who wanted to hear it. The Good News is that God became man, that God is with us in the Holy Spirit, and that he cares very much for us. Rejoice and be glad that there is no sin or problem too great or too small for him to handle. Today, as in the days of Isaiah, Jesus the Messiah is a “Light to the Land.”
The first reading calls the Messiah to be “A light to the Land” to bring his people out of darkness. Paul tells us in the second reading that pride and ambition have caused great obstacles in the church. In the Gospel, we hear the kingdom of heaven is near because Jesus becomes present in our hearts when he died on the cross so that we might have eternal life.
This week, be a light to your family by being extra caring and compassionate. It could be volunteering to baby sit, wash the family car, do laundry, visit a sick relative or someone else you know that has no one else to care for them.