See, Judge, and Act
by Bishop Robert Barron . September 19, 2004 .
Our Gospel for this week contains one of Jesus' most surprising and comical parables, the story of the unjust steward. Jesus finds something to praise in the man who is resourceful (and ruthless) enough to fend for himself when his whole world collapses. The lesson is clear: we disciples should be just as attentive, intelligent, and decisive when it comes to spiritual matters. We should see our relationship with God clearly, assess our spiritual health honestly, and act to set our lives in right order.
A God of Relentless Mercy
by Bishop Robert Barron . September 12, 2004 .
The God of the Bible is infinitely demanding and infinitely merciful. Jesus said, "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect," and he taught us to think of that Father as a good shepherd willing to lay down his life for his sheep. Our spiritual lives get off the rails when we exclusively emphasize one or the other of these dimensions. God hates sin--but he relentlessly, passionately runs after us sinners, eager to draw us back into friendship with him.
Spiritual Shock Therapy
by Bishop Robert Barron . September 5, 2004 .
The world of grasping, competition, violence, and egotism is the "real" world, right? And if I were to suggest that we can live in radical non-violence, love, compassion, and forgiveness, you would probably suggest that I am a utopian dreamer. But what Jesus shows is precisely the illusory, phony quality of the supposedly "real" world that we inhabit, and what he calls for is an immersion in the new universe that he calls "the Kingdom of God." His strategy: spiritual shock therapy. "Hate your mother and father, your children, your wife, your very self," he says to the uncomprehending crowds--and to us. His purpose is to shake us out of our complacency and into a whole new way of thinking, acting, and being.
The Trouble With Honor
by Bishop Robert Barron . August 29, 2004 .
Some people organize their lives around the love of money; others do so around the love of pleasure or power. Still others make honor--the esteem of others--the central value. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus criticizes all of these false gods, and in today's passage, he focuses on this last problem. The key, he suggests, is to order one's life so that winning the esteem of God is all that finally matters. Why play to the fickle, unreliable crowd? In all of your thoughts, words and actions, play to the divine audience--and you will find liberation and joy.
Training in the Divine School
by Bishop Robert Barron . August 22, 2004 .
In the years following the Second Vatican Council, we became very hesitant ever to invoke the category of the divine punishment. Yet, this motif can be found throughout the Bible, both Old Testament and New. How do we properly understand it? Our second reading from Mass, taken from the letter to the Hebrews, gives us some important guidance. It places God's punishment in the context of love and discipline. God punishes us, not capriciously and arbitrarily, but out of a desire to bring us to deeper life, much as a parent will, from time to time, punish a child. I'm eager to hear your reaction to these reflections on a tricky but important theme in Biblical theology.
Walking the Path of Faith
by Bishop Robert Barron . August 8, 2004 .
Our second reading this week is from the 11th chapter of the letter to the Hebrews, and it concerns that central virtue of the Christian life: faith. To believe is not to be naive, superstitious, or uncritical. It is not opposed to reason. Rather, it is a reasonable leap into the darkness of that which transcends what we can know and control. As such, it is analogous to the "leaps" made by a man about to marry, by a scientist embarking on an experiment the result of which he does not precisely know, by an adventurer about to embark on his journey of exploration.
The Wisdom of Qoheleth
by Bishop Robert Barron . August 1, 2004 .
Our first reading for this Sunday is taken from the wonderful book of Ecclesiastes. This Biblical text is made up of the cranky reflections of Qoheleth, an old man who has seen it all and done it all--and finds all of it "vanity and a chase after wind." Why do we attend to his rather sardonic meditations? We do so because it is altogether salutary to be reminded that our ultimate joy is found in none of the goods of this world. So sit down with Qoheleth, pretend he's your curmudgeonly but loveable grandfather, and listen.
The Ways of Prayer
by Bishop Robert Barron . July 25, 2004 .
The Bible speaks often of prayer, that intimate communion and conversation with God. Our readings for this Sunday present, if I can put it this way, the rules of prayer. First, we must pray with faith and confidence; secondly, our prayer must be accompanied by forgiveness; thirdly, we must pray with persistence, and finally, we must pray in the name of Jesus the Lord. Why does our prayer not "work?" Perhaps it's because we are not following the rules.
The One Thing Necessary
by Bishop Robert Barron . July 18, 2004 .
Both our first reading and Gospel for this week speak of the importance of keeping our attention riveted on God. The three angels visit Abraham, and he drops everything in order to receive them with hospitality; Jesus comes to her home, and Mary sits at his feet, listening to his words. When God is the absolute priority in our lives, everything else that we are worried about about falls into place. Augustine said, "love God and do what you want." This implies that once God is the unambiguous center of our lives, we can confidently arrange and respond to all of our particular concerns.
The Good Samaritan
by Bishop Robert Barron . July 11, 2004 .
The story of the Good Samaritan is not merely a morality tale, an account of the kind of life we should lead. It is that, but, at the deepest level, it is also a telling of the basic story of sin, fall, and redemption. All of us sinners are the man beaten up and left half-dead by the side of the road. We cannot be saved by law or religion or our own works, but only by Jesus Christ and his grace. This best-known of Jesus' parables is finally a narrative of salvation.