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 ACTS 7:55-60 FIRST READING
(“Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”)
1. Who was filled with the Holy Spirit, and when he looked up to heaven, what did he see? Acts 6:8, Acts 7:55
2. With what did Ananias tell Paul (Saul) to be filled, and who did he say sent him? Acts 9:17
3. With what were the disciples filled? Acts 13:52
4. What are you not to do, and with what are you to be filled? Ephesians 5:18
Personal – How have you experienced the in-filling of the Holy Spirit?
5. What did Stephen say when he looked up and saw the heavens open? Acts 7:56
6. What happened to Jesus after John baptized him and the
heavens opened? Matthew 3:16-17
7. How did the people react to Stephen, and what did they do to him? Acts 7:57-58
8. At whose feet did the witnesses lay their cloaks down,
and what did Stephen call out as they were stoning him? Acts 7:58-59
9. What did Jesus say as they were crucifying him, and what were his last words? Luke 23:34, 46
10. What did Stephen say to the Lord just before he died?
11. How are we to treat our enemies? Matthew 5:44
Personal – Are you holding anything against a family member, friend, or neighbor over a past hurt? Pray about it and do what the Lord is telling you to do?
THIRD DAY READ REVELATION 22:12-14, 16-17, 20 SECOND READING
(“Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one
who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water.”)
1. When the Lord comes, what will he bring?
2. What did Jesus tell his disciples, with whom will he come,and how will he repay us? Matthew 16:24-28
3. Who did the Lord say he was? Revelation 1:8, 22:13
4. Of what is there only one? Isaiah 44:6
5. Who are blessed, what have they done, and to what do they have a right? Revelation 22:14
6. Where is the tree of life, and to whom does the Spirit speak? Revelation 2:7, Genesis 2:9
7. Who does Jesus say he is, and whom did he send to give this testimony to the churches? Revelation 22:16
8. What does the Spirit and the bride say, who is to come
forward, and who is to receive the gift of life-giving
water? Revelation 22:17
9. Who gives life-giving water? John 4:10
10. What does the one who gives this testimony say?
Personal – Do you thirst for the life-giving water that only Jesus can give you, or do you see someone, whom you know, who is thirsty? How can you answer the invitation to “come,” or how can you be an instrument in satisfying someone else’s thirst?
FOURTH DAY READ JOHN 17:20-26 GOSPEL
(“…because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”)
1. For whom did Jesus say he was praying?
John 17:6-9, 20
2. Why does Jesus pray for them, and what does he say about the Father? John 17:21, also see John 10:30 & 14:10
3. What did Jesus give to those who kept his Father’s word? John 17:22
4. How are we brought to perfection, and whom does the Father love? John 17:23 and also John 16:27
5. Why did God send his Son into the world? John 3:16-17
6. When did the Father love Jesus, and what are we to Jesus from the Father? John 17:24
7. What has Jesus prepared for us, and how will we get there? John 14:2-3
8. Whom does the Father love and honor? John 12:23, 26
9. Whom does Jesus and his disciples know and who does not know him? What does Jesus call his Father? John 17:25
10. Whom does the world love, and what will they do to you on account of Jesus? John 15:19-21
11. What did Jesus make known, what is he making known, and for what reason? John 17:26
12. What was kept by those to whom Jesus revealed the Father? John 17:6
Personal – What priority have keeping God’s Word and speaking God’s Word had in your life? Evaluate last week and see what you spent most of your time doing and saying. How do others see the love of Jesus in you?
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 97:1-2, 6-7, 9
(“The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all people see his glory.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 97:1-2, 6-7, 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
The Jewish leaders were enraged by Stephen’s accusation that they were murderers of the prophets and destroyers of God’s laws. He accused them of even murdering the Messiah. Stephen’s words of seeing Jesus standing at God’s right hand supported Jesus’ claim and angered the Jewish leaders. In their guilt and rage, they would not tolerate Stephen’s words, so they mobbed him and killed him.
Today people may not kill us for witnessing about Christ, but they will let us know they do not want to hear the truth and will often try to silence us. In many lands, those who try to protect the rights of the unborn children against abortion are ridiculed, beaten, and sent to jail. These Christians are responding by not standing by and doing nothing while innocents are being slaughtered (Proverbs 24:11). Keep honoring God in your words, your worship and in your actions. You may experience the rejection of many people to your message, but some will turn to Christ and your effort will be noticed more than you realize.
Paul is introduced into today’s reading (verse 58) as a murderer and then later we see him as a changed, repentant apostle of the Lord. This tells us that the power of God’s love can change anyone who is open to his call. Paul was tremendously qualified to preach to the Jews because he too had once opposed Jesus Christ and his Christian followers. He understood the opposition and was, therefore, able to be compassionate and forgiving, as well as encouraging them to become free in Christ. Paul never forgot that day when he watched in silence and let the evil actions of those men destroy the life of a very holy man. He knew that he could never be silent again, and he spent the rest of his life preaching the good news of Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior of the whole world. We need to speak out in Jesus’ name and let people see in us the holiness of St. Stephen.
REVELATION 22:12-14, 16-17, 20
The Risen Christ is coming, and he makes two powerful claims, that there will be a final judgment and this will not be confined to non-believers. The eternal destiny of a true Christian believer is secure, but Jesus will look at how they handled gifts, opportunities, and responsibilities in their lifetime. He then tells us that he is complete. There is no beginning or end to his existence. Christ is telling us that he is the source and he needs nothing else. He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. The Jews said that since God was the beginning, he received his power from no one; since he was the middle, he shared his power with no one; and since he was the end, he never handed his power over to anyone.
Those who washed their robes in the blood of Christ were purified and have the right of entry into the “City of God” or the “New Jerusalem.” Jesus, through his cross, has provided that grace by which man can be forgiven; but man has to hunger and thirst for that grace, and then he has to make use of that grace. Those who enter into the “Holy City” or heaven are the ones who have accepted Jesus as Lord. In the new and eternal life, people will eat from the tree of life because their sins have been removed by Christ’s death and resurrection and they will live forever.
If we have confessed our sins, repented, and accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we will have the right to eat from this tree. The church has been the faithful guardian that has protected us, taught us about Jesus Christ, and has presented him to us in sacrament and word. The church, in the name of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit brings glory to God the Father by extending the invitation to the whole world to come to Jesus.
Jesus completes his prayer to the Father. He began by asking his Father to glorify him so that he may glorify the Father. He told his Father that he did everything that was asked of him, and now the hour of glory had come. His glory would be the cross; it was not his will but he obeyed his Father’s will even unto death on a cross (Phil. 2:2-11). Then he prayed for his disciples and asked God to keep them strong in their faith.
In today’s passage Jesus is praying for us. In this prayer, we see his confidence both in his Father and for those who are going to be Christ-followers. He knew that in a very short time he was going to be betrayed, arrested and killed, and he still was confident that his disciples would carry on his name. He was praying for the new church to come. He prayed for a unity of heart, not administration, not a unity of ecclesiastical organization. He prayed for a unity of personal relationships.
We have seen the unity between Jesus and his Father was love and obedience. Jesus prayed for a unity based on the relationships of heart to heart, not denomination to denomination. Jesus prayed that a unity would exist in which people loved each other because they loved him. Christian unity overcomes all differences because it joins people together in love. It is more natural for people to be divided then united. It is more natural for people to fly apart then to come together. But real unity between all Christians would require a “supernatural” solution, and that solution is loving one another as Jesus has loved us.
In the first reading we see that evil can only succeed when good men do nothing. In the second reading we see Jesus is the beginning, middle and the end. The Gospel shows unity does not have to mean uniformity.
This week, bring unity into your own heart by praying that God will change your attitude toward others who do not believe and practice their faith in God like you. Then look around you and see who is not of the same faith as you, and then let them experience your respect, your kindness, and your generosity. Then love them just as Jesus loves you. You will be amazed at the power and result of your witness of Christ.