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 1 KINGS 19:16, 19-21 FIRST READING
(Elisha gave up all that he had to follow the Lord’s call.)
1. In 1 Kings 19:16, 19-21 who is speaking and to whom is he speaking? 1 Kings 19:12-15
2. Who was Elijah to name king of Israel? 1 Kings 19:16
3. What was Elijah called and who was to succeed him? 1 Kings 19:16
4. Which of the following show how this was to be done? a. appoint, b. assign, c. anoint
Personal – What does to anoint mean to you personally?
5. As Elijah set out, who did he come upon and what was he doing? 1 Kings 19:19
6. What did Elijah do to him? 1 Kings 19:19
7. What did Elisha do with the oxen, who did he run after and what did he say to him? 1 Kings 19:20
8. What did Elijah say to him? 1 Kings 19:20
9. When Elisha left him, what did he do to the yoke of oxen and the plowing equipment? 1 Kings 19:21
10. What did he do with the flesh? 1 Kings 19:21
11. After he did all this what did he do and how did he follow Elijah? 1 Kings 19:21
Personal – To what extent have you been called to give up some earthly possessions to follow the Lord’s call?
THIRD DAY READ GALATIANS 5:1, 13-18 SECOND READING
(We are called to live in freedom.)
1. Who is writing this epistle? Galatians 1:1
2. Why did Christ free us? Galatians 5:1
3. How must you stand and what must you not do? Galatians 5:1
4. How were you freed the first time? Revelations 1:5
5. How have we been called to live and to what does this not give full reign? Galatians 5:13
6. How are we to place ourselves at one another’s service? Galatians 5:13
7. How has the law found its fulfillment? Galatians 5:14
8. What will happen to you if you go on biting and tearing at one another? Galatians 5:15
9. How should you live and what will not happen to you? Galatians 5:16
10. What do the flesh and the spirit do to one another and why do you not do what your will intends? Gal. 5:17
11. If you are guided by the spirit, what are you not under? Galatians 5:18
Personal – In what way are you living in accordance with the Spirit, in your home, work, or at play? In what way are you yielding to the cravings of the flesh? How can you take this situation and live according to the spirit?
FOURTH DAY READ LUKE 9:51-62 GOSPEL
(“Come away and proclaim the kingdom of God.”)
1. As the time approached for Jesus to be taken from this world, where did he resolve to go and who did he send ahead of him? Luke 9:51
2. What kind of town did those he sent ahead come to and why were they there? Luke 9:52
Personal – In what way have you prepared the way for the Lord’s coming for yourself and for your family?
3. What was the Samaritan’s reaction to his coming and what was the reason they acted this way? Luke 9:53
4. What did Jesus’ disciples, James and John, say when they saw the Samaritans would not welcome him? Luke 9:54
5. How did Jesus respond to this and where did he turn? Luke 9:55
6. Where did they go? Luke 9:56
Personal – When you find opposition in walking with the Lord, what is your reaction, especially in your family? Do you continue walking with him or do you persist in getting through to them?
7. As they were making their way along, what did someone say to Jesus? Luke 9:57
8. What did Jesus say to him? Luke 9:58
9. What did he say to another? Luke 9:59
10. What did Jesus say to him? Luke 9:60
11. Why did Jesus want him to come with him? Luke 9:60
12. What was the stipulation another gave him before he could be his follower? Luke 9:61
13. What did Jesus say about a person who keeps looking back? Luke 9:62
Personal – What blockages or excuses have you had for not following Jesus? He is saying to you “Come after me.” In what way have you been going before him instead of after him as a follower?
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 16:1-2, 5, 7-11
(“You will show me the path of life”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11.
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
1 KINGS 19:16, 19-21
One of the most important aspects of this passage, from the Old Testament, deals with the price of discipleship. To follow the call of God means that we surrender our will to God so that we may fulfill the divine will. We “tie” ourselves to the holy will of God. This demands sacrifice, an important characteristic of religion.
Sacrifice means “to make holy.” Religion means to bind oneself to almighty God and to promote the kingdom of God in this life.
We share in the mysteries of Christ; we all have the vocation to live out the mysteries of Christ. And in the Old Testament we see the first manifestations of this truth since all mankind is founded on the mystery of the Incarnation (Colossians 1:15-20; Ephesians 1:4-14).
All of the above may be applied to the Jewish prophet, Elisha. Elisha paid the price of discipleship. Indeed, he gave up his worldly possessions to follow God’s call, made manifest through Elijah. He was to succeed Elijah to the office of prophecy.
The Old Testament tells us that repeatedly the Jewish nation had fallen into spiritual adultery by following the gods of pagan nations. The Book of Hosea is replete with this sad phenomenon. To recall the Jews to the worship of the true God, God raised up men totally dedicated to this task of restoration.
This was no easy task; paganism offered an “easy” religion, a religion that made few demands on fallen human nature where the gods were made in the image of man and not man to the image of the true God.
The prophets, as we see in the case of Elisha, his predecessor, Elijah, Jeremiah and the other prophets, faced their gigantic task with fortitude – one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. They were men of God, worthy of imitation.
GALATIANS 5:1, 13-18
Above, I mentioned that we should be “tied” and here we have Paul speaking of liberty. Nonetheless, there is no contradiction. To “tie” ourselves, is to bind ourselves, as the word religion suggests (from the Latin religare, to bind) therefore we are bound to the infinite God; there is no constraint whatsoever.
On the other hand, sin can become slavery; temptations are constant demands for self-satisfaction; fallen human nature has the tendency to seek not the kingdom of God but rather the kingdom of instant gratification. To master ourselves calls for the grace of God; to master ourselves is to possess the liberty of Christ as Paul puts it so well: “It was for liberty that Christ freed us. Do not take on yourselves the yoke of slavery a second time!”
In the spirit of true liberty, we are able to give of ourselves to God who is not only within us but within our neighbor as well. In that same liberty, we give ourselves to the service of our neighbor, to the sick neighbor, to the sick in spirit, and to see in all of these the Christ Jesus. (Matthew 25:31-46) When all this comes about, know that the kingdom of God is near at hand, despite appearances.
Today’s gospel passage deals with the last stages of Christ’s public ministry: “As the time approached when Jesus was to be taken from this world.”
Jesus and his disciples were to return to Jerusalem by way of Samaria. At that time bad feelings existed between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Samaritans were a mixed race, descendants of Israelitic-Assyrian colonists, and much hated by the Jews at the time of Christ. For a Jew to go through Samaritan territory was rather a risky thing just as it was risky for a Samaritan to go through Jewish territory.
With this background, we can understand the Samaritan’s reluctance to allow Jesus and his followers to pass through their territory. Unlike James and John, Jesus accepted the situation. These two disciples were all for the destruction of the Samaritans: “Lord, would you not have us call down fire from heaven and destroy them?” But this was not the doctrine of Christ. Instead, Jesus had taught: “…love your enemies…If you love those who love you, what merit is there in that?” (Matthew 5:44-46). A true disciple “…must be made perfect as (our) heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
We come now to the subject of vocations. To follow Christ was never an easy task, and it will always be so. Christ made that clear in today’s Gospel. “The foxes have lairs, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
A second example is given: “To another he said, “Come after me.” The man replied, “Let me bury my father first.” Jesus’ answer seems strange. “Let the dead bury their dead.” Obviously, Christ did not mean that the dead can perform burials. As commentators (e.g., Stuhlmueller in The Jerusalem Commentary, p.143,#97) point out: “A play on words: Let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead, mine is a message of life.” Jesus did not intend to be taken literally, but rather he wanted to stir thought.
Today’s gospel gives us a third example concerning the vocation to follow him. Vocation entails a “totality.” By this I mean that once we set out to follow Christ we do so wholeheartedly, no half-way measures. We cannot chase after other pursuits; we should not be distracted so as other pursuits gradually become more and more important at the expense of the vocation to follow Christ. In brief, an avocation should never become a vocation; a vocation should never become an avocation.
In following Christ, it is of the greatest importance to pay heed to his words: “Whoever puts his hand to the plow but keeps looking back is unfit for the reign of God.” This is a very real admonition. Throughout the course of Church history, “looking back” has sometimes led to disastrous consequences, especially among priests and religious. Witness the spectacle of the worldly priest, the worldly religious and the worldly Christian. Surely, if there were a better way to follow Christ; to help bring about the kingdom of God more effectively, the merciful Christ would have pointed out the way. So we believe that doing the will of God, and not our will, is the only true criterion for putting today’s readings into practice.
The first reading shows us that the cost of discipleship is very high. The second reading teaches that mastering ourselves is to possess the liberty of Christ, and the Gospel explains that a true disciple must be made perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.
This week, let the power of the Holy Spirit come upon you and root out the bigotry that is within you. Examine your speech, thoughts and actions and see if these areas need to be improved. Following Jesus calls for obedience, and obedience is the core of being a disciple. To really be free is to be obedient to the law of Christ, and that is to love one another as he has loved us, without regard for race, creed or color.