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 35:4-7 FIRST READING
(“Be strong, fear not!”)
l. What is said for those whose hearts are frightened? Isaiah 35:4
2. What has God come to do for us? Isaiah 35:4
3. Why should we not be afraid? Isaiah 41:10
4. Where do we get our strength? Ephesians 6:10
5. What will happen to the blind and the deaf when God comes? Isaiah 35:5
6. What will happen to the lame and the dumb? Isaiah 35:6
7. What was Jesus’ message to John? Matthew 11:4-5
8. What did Jesus do as the crowds came to him, and what was their reaction? Matthew 15:29-31
9. What will happen to the burning sands and the thirsty ground? Isaiah 35:7
10. Who will remain in the parched land? Psalm 68:7
Personal – What do you say to a family member or a friend when they are frightened? What can you say or do when you become frightened, drawing reference from the above scripture passage?
THIRD DAY READ JAMES 2:1-5 SECOND READING
(“..show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.”)
1. What should we not do to one another? James 2:1
2. What does God not do? Acts 10:34
3. What have we done if we pay attention to the one wearing fine clothes and not to the one wearing shabby clothes? James 2:2-4
4. How should we judge? John 7:24
5. Whom did the Lord choose to be rich in faith? James 2:5
6. Whom did God choose to shame the wise and the strong of the world? 1 Corinthians 1:27-29
7. Who chose us, and what did he choose us to do? John 15:16
8. What did God promise to those who love him? James 2:5, James 1:12
9. How do we prove our love for God? 1 John 4:20-21
10. What do the rich and poor have in common? Proverbs 22:2
Personal – When you are at a gathering, whom do you prefer to be around? Reflect on this. Be honest, and repent if need be.
FOURTH DAY READ MARK 7:31-37 GOSPEL
(“And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.”)
1. Where did Jesus go, and what was wrong with the man the people brought to him? Mark 7:31-32
2. What did the people beg Jesus to do? Mark 7:32
3. Where did Jesus take the man, and what did he do? Mark 7:33
4. Where did Jesus look, and what did he say? Mark 7:34
5. When Jesus raised his eyes, what did he say? John 11:41
6. What happened to the man, and how long did it take for this to happen? Mark 7:35
7. What did Jesus say those who believe in him would do? John 14:12
8. What did Jesus order the people not to do, and what was their response? Mark 7:36
9. About what were the people astonished? Mark 7:37
10. What did the people do who heard the mute speak, and saw the deformed made whole, the lame walk, and the blind see? Matthew 15:31
Personal – In what way can you show faith in someone being healed in your crowd? What can you do that is different from what you have already done? How can you be an instrument in the glorification of God by others?
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
This passage is filled with tremendous hope for all of us today as well as it was for the people in Isaiah’s time. It is the message that the Lord’s crippled people will be whole again. The chapter is a beautiful picture of the final kingdom in which God will establish his justice and destroy all evil.
Isaiah had spoken about a time when God will judge all people for their actions, and in Chapter 35, he tells us about when life will be peaceful at last. The bleak times in our lives will be made into springs with the life-giving water of Jesus Christ (John 4:10).
The people in today’s passage were being encouraged not to give up hope, that soon a messiah would deliver them from bondage. The people would soon be reunited with their families, and prisoners would be released from jail and allowed to go home. God will be praised for his protection and provisions. Their sick were to be healed. The lame would soon be able to walk. The blind would be able to see, and the mute would shout and laugh with joy. Yet, in the middle of all this excitement and praise, there was also the warning that the rebellious would continue to be left in distress.
Today we have seen that prophecy come true in the presence of Jesus Christ. He has set the captives free, and he has given sight to the blind. He has freed mankind from the darkness of death, and he has given all of us the incredible gift of being able to see him in all of his brilliant light of love. Jesus has come and borne our sicknesses and inequities (Matt. 8:17). He has healed us through his death and resurrection. We do not have to look and hope into the future for help. We have it in our possession now. We have within us the Holy Spirit, and he is greater than any other spirit in the world (1 John 4:4). Jesus is our healer, our past, our present, and our future. He is Lord.
James is telling us that commitment is an essential part of faith. We cannot be a Christian just by following the laws of some doctrine or agreeing with biblical statement. We must commit our mind and heart to Christ. Good works are the evidence of true faith, the essence of one who says “Amen.” They are the works of a believer, and we do not do good things to become good. We do good things because of the goodness that is within us (1 John 4:4). A real Christian will have a changed life. Faith without good works does not do anybody any good; it is useless (James 2:14-17).
Paul strongly states that the purpose of faith is to bring salvation. He also reveals that the result of faith is a changed life. James cautions his hearers to avoid partiality. He emphasizes that the poor are a special object of God’s care. A common error today that is made by many Christians is treating a well dressed, impressive looking person better than someone who looks poor. This is done because most people would rather identify with successful people than apparent failures. Many of the rich and successful find it hard to identify with the Lord Jesus who came as a humble servant.
We need to ask ourselves a very brutal question. Are we partial to the “successful” while ignoring the possible failures? We call this prejudice sin. God views all people as equals, and if indeed he has favorites, it is the poor and the powerless. We need to realize the error of judging a person by economic stature or his educational achievements or wealth. This may mean that the person had the good fortune of being born into a family of wealth and power. We need to make sure that we do not seek people to join us just for their money.
James speaks out very strongly about helping the poor. Many times, we may foolishly assume that because people have wealth and power that they can change the circumstances of the event. We must always remember one of the greatest barriers to salvation for the rich is pride. For the poor, it is bitterness. We must never assume that the poor will automatically go to heaven and the rich will go to hell. The poor, however, are usually more aware of their powerlessness and are usually more open to acknowledge their need for Jesus Christ.
Today’s gospel passage takes place as Jesus enters into the territory around the Sea of Galilee. This long journey together was very helpful in bringing a bond among all of them as they approached the end of Jesus’ very short ministry.
The people brought to Jesus a man who could not speak or hear, and Jesus, being very conscious of the man’s dignity, led the man away from the curious crowd and laid his hands on him to heal him. The healing was done at the request of unnamed friends, and it was what today is called an “action-miracle.” Jesus did what many Greeks and Hebrew healers did at that time, and that was to use saliva. He immediately established contact with the damaged organs, looks up in prayer and utters a command. Jesus used an Aramaic word, “Ephphatha” which means open, and the man’s ears were at once opened. Jesus put his hand in the man’s ears and touched his tongue with his spittle. The custom in those days allowed for spittle to have curative powers. Jesus did not consider this man to be merely a case, he considered him as an individual and was healing him from within as well as on the outside. Mark tells us the onlookers were astonished by what they saw. Much more certain is that in their wonderment the people were recalling the signs of the last times told by Isaiah (Isaiah 35:5).
Today Jesus continues to heal the broken hearts, minds, bodies, and spirits of all people. He continues to bring salvation to all who will turn to him in their hour of darkness and pain. Jesus had done all things well, and he wants to make you well for eternity. Let him come into your life right now and heal you of what is crippling you. Today, Jesus is bringing back the beauty of God to the world, which sin has made ugly.
The first reading tells us the “Good News” is the message of “Hope.” The second reading shows that faith without works is useless. The Gospel reveals that Jesus is a hands-on healer who is gentle.
This week, let your faith be visible to your family. Let your actions be a sign of what you really believe. Show a family member a side of you that prays, reads scripture, meditates, and worships with joy. Better yet, invite a family member or friend or school or work associate to pray with you or go to a worship service with you. Remember, God wants to heal others through you. All you have to do is be available.