The Virgin Shall Be With Child
by Bishop Robert Barron . December 19, 2004 .
The fourth and final Isaian image for this Advent season is the most powerful and the most mysterious: the virgin shall be with child. Never underestimate what God can do. As the angel said to Mary, "nothing is impossible with God." Even from our emptiness, God can bring forth salvation.
by Bishop Robert Barron . September 26, 2004 .
We hear from the prophet Amos in our first reading for this Sunday. Amos stands at the very beginning of the great prophetic tradition of social justice. He sees that the very heart of the law is our collective concern for the orphan, the widow, the stranger, and the needy. This emphasis is continued in the writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and it comes to particularly rich expression in the words of Jesus the prophet. We must listen with attention to Amos and allow ourselves to be deeply challenged by him.
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.
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.
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 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.
Elijah, You’re Fired!
by Bishop Robert Barron . June 27, 2004 .
In the stories of the prophets Elijah and Elisha we clearly see the great Biblical theme of vocation and election. Our lives our not about us; it is not finally our autonomy that matters. Rather, we are claimed and chosen and sent by God, and only in the measure that we accept this divine mission do we find true joy. When he resisted God's will and sought to justify himself, Elijah was summarily fired; when Elijah put his mantle over the shoulders of Elisha, Elisha dropped everything and followed the will of God. If you want your whole world turned upside down, read the 18th and 19th chapters of the first book of Kings!
They Shall Look on Him Whom They Have Pierced
by Bishop Robert Barron . June 20, 2004 .
The book of the prophet Zechariah provides a sort of interpretive key for the life and ministry of Jesus. It tells us what the Messiah would do and what kind of figure he would be. The passage that we read from Zechariah for Mass this week emphasizes that the Messiah, curiously enough, would be "pierced." In our Gospel, Peter correctly identifies Jesus as the Messiah, but then he (and we) are given a lesson in what that means: the Son of Man must be rejected, persecuted and put to death. Jesus the Messiah saves the world precisely by being killed. To understand that is to understand everything about Christian faith.
The Three-Personed God
by Bishop Robert Barron . June 6, 2004 .
This weekend, we celebrate the Trinity, a mystery which stands at the very heart of the faith. The doctrine of the Trinity is a technical way of stating what St. John said in his first letter, viz. that God is love. If God is love, then there must be within God a play of lover, beloved, and love. This is the relationality that obtains among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.