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 MALACHI 1:14-2:2, 8-10 FIRST READING
(“For a great king am I, says the Lord of hosts.”)
- Who is cursed? Malachi 1:14
- Who have gone out into the world and have not acknowledged Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh? 2 John 7
- What will be feared among the nations? Malachi 1:14
- What does it mean to fear the Lord? Proverbs 8:13, 2 Corinthians 5:9-11, Revelation 14:7
- For whom is this commandment? Malachi 2:1
- What two things will cause the Lord to send a curse upon us? Malachi 2:1-2
- What three things will give us life? Deut 30:19-20
- From what have we turned aside, what have our instructions caused, and what have we made void? Malachi 2:8
- What has the Lord made us and for what reason? What do we show in our decisions? Malachi 2:9
- What are we now to do, and who shows no partiality? 2 Chronicles 19:7
- What are the three questions asked in Malachi 2:10?
Personal – How do you show your fear of the Lord to those around you? Do you show partiality to just those who are nice to you? Reflect on this and ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you can restore any broken relationships. This week attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the grace needed to do this.
THIRD DAY READ 1 THESSALONIANS 2:7-9, 13 SECOND READING
(“…, we proclaimed to you the Gospel of God.”)
- Who is speaking, to whom are they speaking, and what were they able to impose on them? 1 Thess 1:1, 1 Thess 2:7
- How were they among the Thessalonians? 1 Thess 2:7
- Paul asks the Corinthians, what kind of spirit do they prefer? 1 Corinthians 4:21
- What did Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy have for the Thessalonians, and what were they willing to share with them? 1 Thessalonians 2:8
Personal – How do you share the Gospel of God with your family and friends? Do you share yourself and how the Gospel has affected your life?
- What do Paul, Silvanus and Timothy recall to the brothers, and what did they proclaim? 1 Thessalonians 2:9
- For what are we to work, and what is the work of God? John 6:26-29
- What do we give God unceasingly? 1 Thessalonians 2:13
- What is the will of God in all circumstances? 1 Thessalonians 5:18
- What did the Thessalonians receive from hearing Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy? From whom did they not receive it? 1 Thessalonians 2:13
- The Word of God is at work in those who do what? 1 Thessalonians 2:13
- Who are those who believe? 1 John 5:1-5
Personal – How is God working in you, and how are you working in the world?
FOURTH DAY READ MATTHEW 23:1-12 GOSPEL
(“…and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”)
- To whom did Jesus speak? Matthew 23:1
- Who have taken their seat on the chair of Moses? Matthew 23:2
- Where must we all appear? 2 Corinthians 5:10
- What are we to do and observe, what are we not to follow, and for what reason? Matthew 23:3-4
- What did the Lord order those who preach the Gospel to do? 1 Corinthians 9:14
- What do the Scribes and Pharisees do to people, and what do they not do? Matthew 23:4
- For what are their works performed, and what do they love? Matthew 23:5-7
- What do they like to be called, what are we not to be called, and for what reason? Matthew 23:7-8
- Who is our teacher? John 14:26
- Who do we have only one, what are we not to be called, and what must the greatest among us be? Matthew 23:9-11
- What will happen to him who exalts himself, and what will happen to him who humbles himself? Matthew 23:12
- Jesus tells us to come to him. What does he say to do, and what does he say he is? Matthew 11:28-30
Personal – In what ways, in your family and with friends, are you practicing what you preach? What has the Holy Spirit taught you this week, and how have you shared this by word and deed?
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 131:1-3
(“…, I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 131:1-3.
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
MALACHI 1:14-2:2, 8-10
Malachi gives a clear, strong rebuke to the people and the priests for neglecting their part in the covenant with God. He is really strong about the person being cursed who lives a life of deceit. Malachi was the last Old Testament prophet and he preached about 430 B.C. Isaiah and Jeremiah had left exciting prophecies for Israel and they had not come true as of yet, so apathy had set in and the nation did not feel good about itself.
Malachi saw many of the sins still being committed that caused the downfall of Israel. Malachi never wavered from his position of truth, and God’s first message to Malachi was, “I have loved you very deeply.” It is a message of hope to all people in stressful times of their lives.
Because the government was corrupt and the economy was poor, many people probably assumed that God just did not like them. God loves all people because he made them. God warned his priests about not leading the people into sin because of the example of their own lives. The worship of God had lost its vitality and had become more of a business for the religious than a heart-felt vocation.
Some people find it very hard to just confess what is wrong in their life and try to justify why they are doing the things that they do. This deceit spreads throughout their families and into the communities. We must remember that we can not lead others if we ourselves are stumbling blocks in the way of people searching for God. Jesus certainly was strong against community leaders who were not living the Gospel as well as they preached it. We need only to look at some of the spiritual and political leaders and see how much damage has already been done by not practicing what they preach.
Today that danger is even more present because of the humanistic attacks on lives of those who believe in Jesus. We who are called into spiritual leadership must remember that we are not fighting our neighbors, families, or congregations. No, we are fighting against the dark forces of Satan himself. The weapons against Satan are the sword of the Spirit (Word of God, teachings of the church, sacraments, and prayer). It is very important that you always have your own personal armor. We all need to be people of prayer and as we enter into battle, let our battle cry be “Pray, Pray, Pray, Pray.”
1 THESSALONIANS 2:7-9, 13
We are told that love is kind and gentle (1 Cor. 4:7) and in today’s reading we see that being expressed in the way Paul practiced his ministry to the Thessalonians. Life was very hard in those days and gentleness was not often a respected quality.
In many places in today’s world, we see power and assertiveness getting more respect than gentleness and kindness, even though none of us like to be bullied. Gentleness is love in action; it is being considerate, and meeting the needs of others. It is being humble, listening to others talk, and being able to learn from them. Gentleness, in many prisons or in some military camps, is taken as a sign of weakness.
Paul is telling them that only through gentleness can we really imitate Christ. He also shows that gentleness is an essential trait for both men and women. We all need to have a gentle attitude in our relationship with others. Paul shows the value of honest hard work by his trade as a tent maker (Acts 18:3). He certainly deserved to be financially supported by the people, and, yet, he taught and did not want to be a burden to the new believers. He shows us how loving parents would treat their children, and that is how he felt toward them.
We are to help and encourage new believers in the journey of faith. They need to see in us that gentleness that was in Paul. By his words and example, Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to live in ways that would bring joy to God. We need to look at our own life style and see if there is anything going on that would embarrass God. What do people think of God, when they see the way you live your life?
Matthew proclaims very strongly Jesus’ description of hypocrites. Jesus tells about religious leaders who told the people how to obey rules that they themselves did not obey. Jesus did not condemn what they taught but what they were, and they were hypocrites. They did all the right things at the right time and at the right place. They carried around a little prayer box so that people would see it and be impressed with their holiness. Jesus was exposing the hypocritical attitude of the religious leaders because they knew Scripture but they did not live it. Many of the Pharisees were more concerned about looking holy than being holy.
We have that today with many people giving external signs of a belief that is very shallow. We are all called to be holy and a holy man is not recognized because of a title. A holy man is one who possesses the fruits of the Spirit. If our desires are leading us to possess the fruits of the Spirit, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, then we know the Holy Spirit is leading us. Today, many people, like the Pharisees, know God’s Holy Word and attend church services regularly, but they do not let it change their lives. We hear people in many lands say that they follow Jesus, but do not live by his standard of love. We are called, today more than ever, to make sure our actions match our beliefs.
The Pharisees desired very strong places of leadership in the church as well as leadership in the community. The danger is when the desire for the position grows stronger than the submission to God’s will. Jesus was not against leadership, but against leadership that serves itself, rather than others. Jesus challenged society’s norms then, and he continues to challenge them today. To our Lord Jesus Christ, real greatness comes from serving others in the giving of self. We need to remember that service keeps us aware of other’s needs, and Jesus came as a servant.
The first reading shows us that truth is the only way to become free. The second reading reveals the importance of gentleness. The Gospel shows us the power of being a servant.
This week, let the fruits of the Spirit be evident in you. Each morning pray that the Holy Spirit will lead you in each one. At night, check how well you are using your fruits. Be generous giving them all away and God will replenish you. Ask someone to evaluate you.