THE BREAD OF LIFE CATHOLIC BIBLE STUDY
by Deacon Ken and Marie Finn at St. Dismas Guild
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)
The first reading shows that God has placed his great seal on all of his believers through baptism. The second reading tells us that adoption means being selected and God chose you to be his child. The Gospel reveals that nothing can separate us from God’s love, not even death (Romans 8:39).
This week, let yourself be completely poor in spirit. Let your attachment be only to people, not things. Look in your closet and see what clothes you do not really need and then give them to the poor. Look at your financial picture and see what you can cut out of your spending and give that expense to the poor.
Look at how you spend your time. Is it mostly for your benefit? Try to see where you can give more time to others in need. Mother Teresa says, “Unless life is lived for others, it is not worthwhile.” Blessed are you because you are poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3).
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 17:10-16 FIRST READING
(“The jar of flour did not go empty, nor the oil run dry, as the Lord had foretold through Elijah.”)
l. When Elijah went to Zarephath, who did he see there, and what did he say to her? 1 Kings 17:10
2. What did Jesus say to the woman of Samaria? John 4:7
3. When the widow went to get Elijah the water, for what did he call out, and what did she say to him? 1 Kings 17:11-12
4. What did the widow say would happen to her and her son after they had eaten what was left? 1 Kings 17:12
5. What did Elijah tell the widow not to be, and what did he tell her to do first? 1 Kings 17:13
6. What are we to seek first? Matthew 6:33
7. What does the Lord, the God of Israel, say? 1 Kings 17:14
8. When will the Lord send rain upon the earth? 1 Kings 17:1
9. What did the widow do, and how long were they able to eat? 1 Kings 17:1
10. What happened, and how was it foretold? 1 Kings 17:16
Personal – While you were in a place of need yourself, who has asked you for food or water? What has been your response?
THIRD DAY READ HEBREWS 9:24-28 SECOND READING
(“But now, once for all, he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice.”)
1. What did Christ not enter, what did he enter, and for what reason? Hebrews 9:24
2. If we sin, what do we have? 1 John 2:1
3. What does Christ do that the high priest does not? Hebrews 9:25
4. Where do we get our confidence to enter the sanctuary? Hebrews 10:19
5. What did Jesus do once and for all? Hebrews 9:26 and 7:27
6. What did John say about Jesus? John 1:29
7. What do human beings do only once, and what comes fter that? Hebrews 9:27
8. What do we receive before the judgment seat of God? 2 Corinthians 5:10
9. What will Christ do a second time, what will he bring, and to whom? Hebrews 9:28
10. How will the Son of Man come? Matthew 16:27
Personal – How has Christ appeared before God on your behalf this week? Be specific. What did you ask him, and what was the answer?
FOURTH DAY READ MARK 12:38-44 GOSPEL
(“A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.”)
1. Of what did Jesus say you are to beware? Mark 12:38-39
2. What goes before honor? Proverbs 15:33
3. What do the scribes that look for places of honor do to the widow, and what will happen to them? Mark 12:40
4. What did Jesus observe, and what did many of the rich do? Mark 12:41
5. What do the rich and poor have in common? Proverbs 22:2
6. What did a poor widow do? Mark 12:42
7. After calling his disciples, what did Jesus say to them about the poor widow? Mark 12:43
8. From what did Jesus say the rich contributed, and from what did this poor widow contribute? Mark 12:44
9. When giving, what must be there to be acceptable to the Lord? 2 Corinthians 8:12
10. What happens to those who give to the poor? Proverbs 28:27, Matthew 10:42
Personal – In what way have you taken something that you needed and given it to someone less fortunate? Examine yourself to see if your giving is from your surplus or from your need. Repent where needed, attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation to receive the grace from the sacrament, and pray for the ability to change and to begin to give from your need.
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 146:7-10
(“The Lord sets captives free;”) Read and meditate on Psalm 146:7-10.
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 17:10-16
In a nation that was required by law to take care of its prophets, it seems incredible that God allowed ravens, which were considered to be very unclean birds, and a widow, who was a foreigner from Jezebel’s home territory, to care for Elijah. But God provides help for us where we least expect it. He provides help that goes beyond our narrow definitions or expectations. No matter how bitter our trials or how seemingly hopeless our situation, we should look for God’s hand of care. We may just find him in the strangest of places.
When the widow from Zarephath met Elijah, she thought she was preparing her last meal for herself and her son. Today’s passage shows us how a simple act of faith provided a miracle. We are told that faith is the step between promise and assurance. Faith is the response to the power and living presence of God in our lives. The woman was being obedient, and she had more than she could eat.
The core of love is obedience, and every miracle, large or small, begins with an act of obedience. We may not see the result until we take the first step. Yet miracles seem so out of reach for our feeble faith. This woman reached out and responded to Elijah’s need, and her own needs were filled. When we respond to someone else’s need before our own, we are doing what Jesus did. In the next few verses the widow’s faith had a major test. When her son died, she reached out in faith. Today, respond to the power and living presence of God in you and miracles will happen to you.
The description of Jesus as our friend comes as a sign of great comfort. A friend stands with us and for us. Christ is on our side, standing in our place before God. He is our mediator, he pleads for us, and he represents us. God has chosen us to be his friend because we are friends of Jesus. God considers us friends when we give ourselves to him as he gives himself to us. When we are God’s friend, we know that he is always there when we need him. Do you consider God to be your friend? Are you as devoted to him as he is to you?
Jesus has drawn us into a place of high privilege because as our Lord and Master, he should call us slaves, but instead he calls us friends. Because he is Lord and Master, our obedience should be unqualified and blind, but Jesus asks us to obey him because we love him.
We know that love is a decision, and to love Jesus means we have decided with our own free will to love him. Because Jesus died for us, we became eligible to be friends with God. God is holy, and he hates sin. All people are sinful and deserve punishment. Christ took our sins upon himself and paid the price for them with his own death. Now the way to friendship with God has been opened and through faith in his work, we become his friends rather than enemies and outcasts.
Because we are Jesus’ friends we know that when we die we will be with him forever. We know that all people die physically but Christ died so that we would not have to die spiritually. He has promised to return and raise up “his friends” to eternal life in a world without sin, and that, my beloved friends, is “Good News.”
In this Gospel passage, Jesus makes a series of charges against the Jewish religious leaders. These leaders walked around in flowing robes in which they could neither hurry or work, and which were the sign of the leisurely man of honor. Scripture tells us that the Jews wore tassels at the edge of their outer robe. These tassels were to remind them that they were people of God.
Jesus again exposes the impure motives of these religious leaders. They received no official pay, so they depended upon the hospitality extended by devout Jews. Some of them used this custom to exploit people, cheating the poor out of everything they had and even taking advantage of the rich. Their spirituality was an act to gain respect, status, and recognition. Jesus warned the people against the teachers of religion who loved to appear holy, but in reality were phonies.
True followers of Christ are not distinguished by showy talents or acts. Reading the Bible, praying in public, or following church rituals can be phony if the motive for doing them is to be noticed or honored. We must always remember that how we live is really what we believe, so let your actions be consistent with your beliefs. We must always live for Christ even when no one is looking.
Jesus tells the people that the punishment of the religious leaders would be greater because as leaders they carried great responsibility in shaping the faith of the people. The petty rules, greed, and impure motives led many people astray, and sadly, we see that happen far too often in our times and in many nations. Jesus closes the passage by telling us that when we give, it is not how much we give that counts, but it is how much of a sacrifice it takes. The poor woman only gave a fraction of what others gave, but it was out of the funds that she needed to survive that she gave, not out of what was surplus. God is calling all of us to give just as the poor widow gave, as shown in today’s Gospel.
The first reading tells us that God will provide for us in the most unexpected ways. The second reading shows that there is no greater friend than one who lays down his life for us. The Gospel reveals to us that real religion is what we live as well as what we say.
This week, let your spirituality show, not in the way you dress, speak or sing; let it show in your actions. This week do something beautiful for God, and give of your time, talent, or your money to do God’s work. Remember, I did not say, do what you always do; I say, do something different, something special. Whatever you do, whatever you give, let it really be an experience of sacrifice. Your gift of giving begins with your heart.