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 ISAIAH 50:4-9 FIRST READING
(“See, the Lord God is my help,”)
l. What has the Lord God given the suffering servant, and for what reason? Isaiah 50:4
2. Who cannot tame the tongue? James 3:8
3. When does he open our ears to listen? Isaiah 50:4
Personal – In what way has God trained your tongue?
4. When our ears are opened in the morning, what do we not do? Isaiah 50:5
5. What do we do with our back, cheeks, and face? Isaiah 50:6
6. What was done to Jesus before he was crucified? Matthew 26:67
7. Why did he not shield himself from buffets and spitting? Isaiah 50:7
8. How will he appear before those who oppose him, and who is near? Isaiah 50:8
9. Who is our help, and what will happen to those who try to prove us wrong? Isaiah 50:9
10. How will God strengthen and uphold us? Isaiah 41:10
Personal – How have you been persecuted for your belief in Christ by those close to you, in your family, among your friends and co-workers, and in your church?
THIRD DAY READ JAMES 2:14-18 SECOND READING
(“..I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.”)
1. What is the question asked in James 2:14?
2. How does faith come to you? Romans 10:17
3. What did Jesus teach about listening only to his words? Matthew 7:24,26
4. What is said about a brother or sister who has nothing to wear or no food? James 2:15-16
5. How do the righteous inherit the kingdom of God? Matthew 25:34-37
6. How are we to love? 1 John 3:17-18
7. What is faith without works? James 2:26
8. How is the body dead? James 2:26
9. How do we demonstrate our faith? James 2:18
10. He who is wise and understanding will show his works by what? James 3:13
Personal – In what way have you demonstrated your faith to your family, friends, work acquaintances, or schoolmates? Can others identify what you believe in by your actions?
FOURTH DAY READ MARK 8:27-35 GOSPEL
(“You are the Messiah.”)
1. What question did Jesus ask his disciples, and what was the response? Mark 8:27-28
2. What did Jesus specifically ask his disciples, and what did Peter say? Mark 8:29, John 6:69
Personal – Who do you say Jesus is?
3. What did Jesus warn them not to do? Mark 8:30
4. What did Jesus begin to teach them? Mark 8:31
5. What did Christ do for us, and for what reason? 1 Peter 2:20-25
Personal – How have you suffered in this world?
6. How did Jesus speak to them, and what did Peter do? Mark 8:32
7. How did Jesus always speak and teach? John 18:20
8. What did Jesus do to Peter, what did he say to him, and whom did he specifically address? Mark 8:33
9. What does Jesus command Satan to do? Mark 8:33, Matthew 4:10
Personal – What has your reaction been to being rebuked?
10. What did Jesus tell the crowd the one who wishes to come after him must do? Mark 8:34
11. Who is not worthy of Jesus? Matthew 10:38
12. What will happen to those who wish to save their life, and what will happen to those who lose their life for Jesus and the Gospel? Mark 8:35
Personal – In what specific way have you lost your life (died to self) for the sake of Christ and the Gospel?
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 116:1-6, 8-9
(“The Lord keeps the little ones, I was brought low and he saved me.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 116:1-6, 8-9.
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
Today’s reading shows Isaiah’s vision of the suffering servant which prefigures what Jesus will take upon himself for our sakes: beatings, humiliation, disgrace, etc. Isaiah was writing to a people struggling for freedom from their Babylonian oppressors. They were eagerly anticipating Jerusalem’s glorious restoration.
This is a picture of the ultimate servant, the Messiah. The prophet speaks for God, but the Messiah reveals God perfectly. God used many approaches to send his message to people in Old Testament times. He spoke to Isaiah in visions, to Jacob in a dream (Genesis 28:10-22), and to Abraham and Moses personally (Genesis 18:33, Exodus 31:18). Jewish people familiar with these stories would not have found it hard to believe that God was still revealing his promised Messiah.
The vibrant poem of today’s passage comes from a man who remembered Israel’s greatness and cherished God’s powerful promises. But that memory was itself a suffering because he lived humiliated and beaten down. God’s promise of freedom was enough to inspire his bravery in the face of oppression.
We are called to identify with Isaiah’s hero, the suffering servant. We will walk in the presence of the Lord because of our faith in Jesus Christ. The world’s choke-hold on us will be struck loose by a powerful and merciful Lord. God is not about to stumble, and we shall all be free.
Jesus is, of course, that suffering servant. He accepts the identity in today’s world as true as he accepted it in Isaiah’s time. Isaiah also tells us that if we choose to live in our own light and be subject to no one, then we surely will live among the sorrows. Today, we see much sorrow caused by a rebellious people who look not for the Messiah, but only to their own shadow.
Today’s passage tells us that well-wishing to our neighbors has a hollow ring if the words of our lips are not matched by the action of our hands. Agreement with a set of Christian teachings, intellectually, is incomplete faith. True faith brings about a real change in our lives. If our lives remain unchanged, we do not truly believe the truths we claim to believe. Living the way God wants us to live does not earn our way into heaven. Being obedient to the commands of Jesus Christ does show that our commitment to God is real. Christ-like conduct is not a substitute for, but a verification of, our faith in Jesus Christ.
This passage in no way is a contradiction of Romans 3:28 which states, “We are saved by Christ and not the good things we do.” While it is true that our good works can never earn salvation, true faith always results in a changed life and that changed life includes good works. Today’s reading shows us that it is not a matter of faith or works; rather, unless faith is incarnate in actual behavior, it has no reality. It remains an illusion, with no power to save (James 2:18).
St. Paul speaks against those who try to be saved by works alone instead of true faith. James speaks against those who confuse intellectual agreement with true faith. Scripture tells us that even demons know who Jesus is, but they do not obey him (James 2:19). James is telling his listeners that faith and works are a matter of meeting the needs of the poor, lonely, homeless and hungry. If we call someone brother or sister but dismiss their needs, we are living a meaningless sham (James 2:15-17). Faith is the living response to the power and presence of God in our life. Love is a decision, and the way we live tells others what we really believe.
This Gospel shows us how much we relate to Peter in his moment of fickleness. One moment he proudly proclaims Jesus as Messiah and in the next tempts Christ to abandon the instrument of his messianic power, the cross.
Caesarea Philippi was an especially pagan city known for its worship of Greek gods. Its temples were devoted to the ancient god Baal. It was a fitting place for Jesus to ask the disciples to recognize his identity as the Son of God. Jesus asked the disciples who others thought he was, then he focused on them. The question, “Who do you think I am?” was asked because, like the disciples, we must understand and accept for ourselves that he is the Messiah. We must move from curiosity to commitment, from admiration to adoration.
Jesus told his disciples not to tell anyone about him because he knew that they needed more instruction about the work he would accomplish through his death and resurrection. Today more than ever, we need to know Jesus through his Word and through spending time alone with him in prayer. When we confess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we need to know what that will cost us.
Jesus spoke plainly and directly to his disciples about his death and resurrection. Peter was not able to handle the thought of Jesus being put to death and tried to talk Jesus out of making these kinds of statements. Peter wanted Jesus to be king, but not the suffering servant prophesied in Isaiah 53. He was like many of us today, ready to receive the glory of following the Messiah, but not the persecution. The Christian life is not a paved road to wealth and ease, but often involves rejection, pain, loneliness, and sickness. Peter saw only part of the picture. We need to focus on the resurrection that follows the crucifixion. Today many people spend their lives seeking pleasure. Jesus told us that the world of pleasure centered on possessions is ultimately worthless. Follow Jesus, and we will know what it really means to be fully human and fully alive.
The first reading shows us Isaiah’s vision of the suffering servant. The second reading tells us that faith without works is useless. The Gospel shows Peter, like us, looking for the king instead of the servant.
This week, let your actions be seen by those who are in great need. This may be right in your family, school or work area. Take time to help someone. Maybe pray, play, or study with them. Spend some time with someone who is lonely, sick or in prison. Let people say that by the way you act it is obvious that you really know who Jesus is.