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)
Application – “That night,” in the first reading, was a flight of faith out of Egypt. In the second reading, we saw a journey through darkness by our spiritual heroes that was illuminated by their faith. The gospel tells us to be prepared and through the gift of faith, be ready for the Lord’s return.
Today, through our own gift of faith, by daily prayer, reading scripture and receiving the sacraments, we can keep ourselves ready for when the Lord appears personally to each one of us.
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 JEREMIAH 38:4-6, 8-10 FIRST READING
(“King Zedekiah answered: ‘He is in your power.'”)
1. What did the princes say to the king? Jeremiah 38:4
2. What was it Jeremiah said that caused the princes to say this? Jeremiah 38:1-3
3. What did the princes say Jeremiah did to the soldiers and all the people and in what did they say was his interest?Jeremiah 38:4
4. Who was the king at that time, how did he answer them and for what reason? Jeremiah 38:5
5. What did they do with Jeremiah? Jeremiah 38:6
6. Who was Ebed-melech and what did he do? Jeremiah 38:7-8
7. What did he tell the king about the men who had Jeremiah put in the cistern? Jeremiah 38:9
8. What did he say would happen to Jeremiah and for what reason? Jeremiah 38:9
9. What did the king order to be done? Jeremiah 38:10
Personal – In what way are you influenced by the opinions of others? This past week how have you obeyed God’s Word, which was against what others thought you should do.
THIRD DAY READ HEBREWS 12:1-4 SECOND READING
(“For whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;”)
1. By what are we surrounded? Hebrews 12:1
2. What are we to lay aside? Hebrews 12:1
3. In what are we to persevere? Hebrews 12:1
4. On whom are we to keep our eyes fixed, and what does he do for us? Hebrews 12:2
5. What lay before him and what did he endure, heedless of its shame? Hebrews 12:2
6. Where has he taken his seat? Hebrews 12:2
7. What are we to remember and what are we not to become?Hebrews 12:3
8. Who was it that opposed him? Hebrews 12:3
9. Who are the sinners? Romans 3:23
10. Where do we get our strength in the struggle against sin? Isaiah 40:28-31
11. What have we not yet done? Hebrews 12:4
Personal – How have you resisted sin in your life? What does it mean to you personally: “In your fight against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood?”
FOURTH DAY READ LUKE 12:49-53 GOSPEL
(“I have come to set the world on fire,”)
1. What has Jesus come to do on the earth? Luke 12:49
2. What does he wish? Luke 12:49
3. What does he have to receive and what does he feel, until it is over? Luke 12:50
4. What is the baptism to which he is referring? Mark 10:38 and John 19:28-30
5. What question does Jesus ask and how does he answer it? Luke 12:51
6. Why did he come? Luke 12:51
7. What is the division to which he refers? Matthew 25:32-46, Ezekiel 34:17
8. What will happen to a household of five? Luke 12:52
9. What will happen to fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law? Luke 12:53
10. What will happen to you because of Jesus and when will this happen? Matthew 10:21-23
11. Who will be our enemies? Matthew 10:36
Personal – In what way has following Jesus separated you from family members? How have you dealt with the rejection? Meditate on Matthew 11:28-30.
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 40:2-4, 18 PSALM
(“He put a new song into my mouth.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 40:2-4, 18.
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
JEREMIAH 38:4-6, 8-10
King Zedekiah and his officials did not want to listen to Jeremiah’s words, but they were in need of blessing from his prayers. The King went back and forth from surrender to resistance. The King was in turmoil with everyone. He was told by Jeremiah that if he accepted Egypt’s help and stayed in Jerusalem, he would be destroyed by the Babylonian army. He asked Jeremiah to come secretly to the palace, hoping for some better news from God. The King was in a panic, he wanted to hear God’s word but he had no desire to enter into a political conflict with some of his public officials.
King Zedekiah was a leader who was incapable of making firm decisions. He agreed with everybody, which resulted in his nation’s being in turmoil. He listened to Jeremiah (37:2); and then by another’s advice, he agreed that Jeremiah should be killed (38:5). Finally, he had Jeremiah rescued by advice from yet a different person (38:10). Jeremiah was not popular, his words were misinterpreted as being those of a traitor. He was, in fact, stating God’s prophecy that Jerusalem was going to be destroyed because of its sins. He warned the people to flee to Babylon but they refused to listen. Jeremiah was proclaiming God’s word for 40 years and was rejected, persecuted, and had no followers encouraging him. He finally was forced to leave his homeland, and even the pagan Babylonians treated him with more respect than did his own people.
Today, we need to recognize that God does not guarantee that his servants, even one with the stature of Jeremiah, will escape persecution, even when they are faithful. But God does promise us, as he promised them, that he will be with us and will give us the strength to endure. As you minister to people, remember that your service is for God and not for man’s approval. Jerusalem had several gates, including the gate of Benjamin, where legal matters were handled. Ebed-melech, a public official, went immediately to the gate of Benjamin to protest to the King about the injustice being done to Jeremiah. This public official stood alone in his protest of the murder plot. His obedience could have cost him his life, but God spared him when Jerusalem fell (39:16-18).
You can either go along with the crowd or speak up for God when someone is treated unjustly. You may be the only one, and when you are being treated unjustly yourself be sure to thank the Lord when he sends an “Ebed-melech” your way.
Living a Catholic Christian Life, or as they say in the street, not only talking the talk but also walking the walk, involves hard work. We are called to let go of anything or anyone who endangers our personal relationship with the Lord. We are to run patiently and to struggle against sin in our lives with the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:7). To live this type of life, we must constantly keep our vision on the Lord Jesus Christ. We stumble and eventually fall when we take our eyes off Jesus Christ and look at ourselves or the circumstances surrounding us. We need to remember that we are running Christ’s race and we must always keep him in sight. When hardship and discouragement come, it is easy, sometimes, to lose sight of the big picture.
Jesus is always with us, encouraging us in our struggle. We must not back away from suffering either, because suffering is the training for our Christian spiritual maturity. Jack LaLayne, the body builder, canned the phrase “no pain, no gain.” It is true that suffering develops our patience and makes our final victory sweeter. Jesus endured the ultimate suffering and it was for us all. He suffered to the point of shedding his blood, so that all mankind might be free.
Many of us face tremendous physical, emotional or spiritual difficulties but it is in knowing that he is within each of us that makes the race endurable. Jesus sweat great drops of blood over the sin and temptation to which all are subject. Jesus did not give up his vision for our freedom, and neither should we give up our vision of running his race in the same manner as he did his.
Today we hear of many ways to run in the race of life. An athlete has to train diligently if he expects to be successful. You and I are called to look together to Jesus, and he will be in concert with us. His love will become obvious in the way we respond to the needs of others.
Jesus warns that his coming to the earth was about to bring division between many close groups, including families. He tells us that he came to bring a fire to the earth and that, of course, was his Holy Spirit. We think of the coming of the Holy Spirit as little tongues of fire over the heads of the Apostles (Acts 2:3).
Fire is used for cleansing and purifying precious metals. Fire strips and burns away all imperfections. Fire is powerful and painful.
Jesus’ terrible baptism was his coming crucifixion. He talked of the incredible physical, emotional, and spiritual pain of complete separation from God which was necessary to pay for the sins of the whole world. That’s right, he had to take on the pain of all the sins of the world. He died for you and me, while we yet were sinners (Romans 5:8). His death released all of us from our slavery to sin. It is easy for us to say we will suffer anything for Christ, and yet most of us complain every day when even little irritations come. If we say that we are willing to face suffering on a large scale for Christ, we must be willing to suffer in little ways for Christ.
Jesus had revealed that his coming would result in conflict even between family members. He demands a response, and many groups are torn apart when some choose to follow him and incur suffering in his name, while others refuse to do so. There is no middle ground with Jesus; you are either with him or against him. We need only look at places in our world where families are pitted against each other. We are called to declare our loyalty to Christ and make our commitment to him. This might involve cutting off some relationships, possibly in our own family. Are you willing to risk the approval of your friends or even that of your families to gain eternal life?
In the first reading we see Jeremiah being persecuted and rejected for forty years in his ministry. The second reading tells us that we must keep our eyes on Christ as we run the race of life, especially when suffering comes our way. The gospel tells us not to give up, that Christ is always with us even in our darkest moments of life.
This week, let us be especially aware of others, particularly our family members. If we experience rejection and persecution because of our commitment to Christ, let us, through our prayers, and knowledge that Jesus is always with us, respond in a manner that will show others that nothing can separate us from God’s love.