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 EZEKIEL 18:25-28 FIRST READING
(“Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?”)
- What do we say about the Lord’s way? Ezekiel 18:25
- What is the question asked in Ezekiel 18:25?
- How does the judge of all the world act? Genesis 18:25
- When a virtuous man turns away from virtue to commit iniquity and dies, what causes it that he must die? Ezekiel 18:26
- If a wicked man, turning from the wickedness he has committed, does what is right and just, what shall he preserve? Ezekiel 18:27
- What is right and just? Psalm 119:137,144
- Fill in the following blanks: Since the wicked man has turned away from __________ the sins which he has committed, he shall surely __________, he shall not die. Ezekiel 18:28
- Read the following Scriptures and write out what causes you to turn around.
Personal – Have you ever felt you were being treated unfairly? What caused the unfair treatment, and what was the result? What has caused you to turn to the Lord?
THIRD DAY READ PHILIPPIANS 2:1-11 SECOND READING
(“Jesus Christ is Lord.”)
- What does Paul say is owed to him in Christ? What can love bring, and what does fellowship in the Spirit bring? Philippians 2:1
- How can they make his joy complete and in what is the one love united? Philippians 2:2
- Who enables us to live in perfect harmony with others, and of what is he the source? Romans 15:5
- How are we never to act, and how should we think of others? Philippians 2:3
- For whom are we to show interest, and what must be our attitude? Philippians 2:4-5
- How must we estimate ourselves? Romans 12:3
- In what form was Jesus, and with whom did he not deem equality? Philippians 2:6
- What did Jesus do? What form did he take, and in whose likeness was he born? Philippians 2:7
- In what way did he humble himself by accepting death on a cross? Philippians 2:8
- What did God do to Jesus, what did he bestow on him, and what must every knee do at the name of Jesus? Philippians 2:9-10
- In the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth every tongue must proclaim what to the glory of the Father? Philippians 2:11
Personal – In what ways do you show those in your family, your friends, your schoolmates, or your co-workers that you see them as more important than yourself?
FOURTH DAY READ MATTHEW 21:28-32 GOSPEL
(“No, I will not; but afterwards he regretted it and went.”)
- Who is asking about the man with the two sons, and where is Jesus speaking? Matthew 21:23
- With what did the man approach his elder son, and what did the son say and do? Matthew 21:28-29
- When the man came to his second son and said the same thing, what was his reply? Matthew 21:30
- After the second son said he would go, what happened to him? Matthew 21:30
- What produces repentance without regrets? 2 Cor 7:10
- Who did they say did what the father wanted? Matthew 21:31
- Who did Jesus say was entering the kingdom of God before them? Matthew 21:31
- What did the entire populace receive from John, and what did the Pharisees and the lawyers fail to receive? Luke 7:29-30
- When John came preaching a way of holiness, what did they not do? What did the prostitutes and tax collectors do? Matthew 21:32
- Even when the chief priests and elders saw them putting their faith in him, what two things did they fail to do? Matthew 21:32
Personal – How can you relate to the Scripture verse, “No, I will not, but afterwards he regretted it and went.” Matthew 21:30. Share a specific incident.
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 25:4-9
(“Guide me in your truth and teach me.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 25:4-9.
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
In the days of Ezekiel some of the people of Judah believed they were being punished for the sins of their ancestors, rather than for their own sins. Ezekiel is bringing home the reality that everyone is responsible for their own sin.
Today, we hear many people trying to shift the blame of their sinfulness on to others. It is true that we often suffer from the effects of sins committed by those who came before us. It is also true that we can not use their mistakes as an excuse for our sins.
Ezekiel shows us that God is not only a God of love, but he is also a God of perfect justice. His love which is perfect causes him to be merciful to those who recognize their sinfulness and turn back to him. God hates sin and will not tolerate it, and he will not wink at those who willfully sin.
We all like to hear that God is love, but we become a little uncomfortable when we hear he is also a God of justice. We are called to love one another as God has loved us (John 13:34). This means we are not to retaliate or brood over wrongdoing against us. For many, a common response to a difficult circumstance is to say, “That isn’t fair.” In reality, God is perfect justice because he is perfect love.
Many of us turn to the Lord because we finally realize that we can not make it through life without the protection and love of Jesus Christ. We must remember that it is not God who must live up to our ideas of fairness and justice, but it is our responsibility to live up to God’s standards. We are challenged not to look for loopholes in God’s law, instead we are to decide to work toward living up to his standards. We do that through prayer, scripture, sacraments and fellowship in the church.
Paul is exhorting the members of the community to be humble and Christ-like to each other. Today we would do well to take to heart this very message. To be humble is a gift that is like a precious stone which never loses its value. To be humble is to put others first and ourselves second.
Today, there is much talk about the need for a healthy self-esteem. Paul tells us in Scripture not to go too far in self-love. There are many people who think too little of themselves and some who think too much of themselves. The key to an honest and accurate evaluation is knowing that the basis of our self worth is in our identity in Christ.
Apart from Christ we are not worth a great amount by eternal standards. In him our worth as creations of God is priceless. We must always evaluate ourselves in God’s eyes and not in the world’s eyes. Many people today, including Christians, live only to make a good impression on others or to please themselves. This self-centered type of living sows the seeds of discord.
Paul is calling for spiritual unity by asking the Philippians, as well as us, to love one another and to work together with one heart and purpose. When we work together and care for the problems of others, we are living out the example of Christ by putting others first. This is what brings unity in a marriage, a family, a congregation, a parish, a nation and, finally, the whole world.
Being humble means having a true perspective of ourselves (Romans 12:3). It does not mean that we should put ourselves down. We realize that we are all sinners saved by God’s grace and we have a tremendous worth in God’s kingdom. We can place ourselves in Jesus’ hands and humbly let ourselves be used by him to spread his Word and share his love with others.
The way we live our lives is truly what we profess to believe. The way we treat others is truly the way we profess our faith in God. Scripture tells us that if we say we love God and hate our brother, then we are liars.
The parable of the two sons strikes at the very heart of what is wrong in today’s society. Many people pretend that they are following Christ. They say it and even sing it in some songs, but their lives do not prove it. The Pharisees gave the impression that they were very obedient to God’s will by keeping all the external signs of their religion. We have that today in our society. We have those who make great financial contributions but live with their own set of values. We can fool others about our inner intentions, but it is dangerous to pretend to obey God when our hearts are distant from him. God knows the intentions of our hearts. Our actions must always match our words.
In today’s Gospel passage we see the first son say, “no,” then regrets his action and becomes obedient to his father. True repentance means being sorry for our sins and to change our behavior. Paul tells us that occasionally God uses sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from selfishness and to come back to God. Compare Peter’s remorse and repentance with Judas’ bitterness. Both of these men denied Christ. One repented and was restored to faith and service. The other ended with his life in disgrace.
Let us, as Jesus did, be obedient and humble in our relationships with others (Phil. 2:2-11). Jesus calls us to love one another as he has loved us (John 13:34). He also tells us that he will abide in us if we keep his commandments (John 15:7). Jesus gave us his two greatest commandments, “Love your God with all your heart, mind and spirit, and love your neighbor as yourself.” We can do this only when we are obedient to God’s word. Remember, we are all sinners and we are saved only by God’s grace and not by our own deeds.
This week’s first reading tells of being accountable for your own sins. The second reading reveals the power of humility which brings unity. The Gospel tells us that actions speak louder than words.
This week, let us show our accountability in what we say and do by not being selfish. The cure for selfishness is servant hood, which is being like Christ. Do something beautiful for God by doing something pleasing for members of your family, school and work area. Do not let them know your intentions. Show others that your actions in humility and caring are what you really believe and live. When you say “yes,” mean it; and when you say “no,” ask yourself, “What would Jesus say at this time?”