Called, Set Apart, Sent
by Bishop Robert Barron . January 16, 2005 .
Cultural commentator Robert Bellah has characterized the typical American approach to religion as individualistic and driven by the desire for personal fulfillment. But this type of religiosity is inimical to the Biblical vision. Just listen to the opening line of our reading from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians: "Paul, called by God's will to be an apostle of Christ Jesus." Paul is not actualizing his own agenda, but rather utterly turning himself over to the higher authority who has called him, claimed him, and sent him.
Magi Came From the East
by Bishop Robert Barron . January 2, 2005 .
We see in the visit of the Magi to the Christ child the first hint of the internationalism of Christianity. Precisely because Jesus is the Word made flesh, the very personal presence of God, he speaks to all nations and all peoples. The Christian message is meant to overcome all of the petty divisions that characterize the human race: "In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, no man or woman."
The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
by Bishop Robert Barron . December 5, 2004 .
In the eleventh chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah, we find a description of the gifts of the Holy Spirit with which the Messiah will be embued. They include wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fear of the Lord, piety, and fortitude. The good news is that these gifts are given to all of the baptized, all those who participate in the Messiahship of Jesus Christ. What precisely are these gifts and what difference do they make in our lives? Listen in order to find out.
Christ the Crucified King
by Bishop Robert Barron . November 21, 2004 .
Our first reading for Mass this Sunday is taken from the opening chapter of Paul's letter to the Colossians. There is no stronger statement of the absolute primacy, centrality, and importance of Jesus Christ in the entire New Testament. Jesus, Paul tells us, is the beginning and the end, the icon of the invisible God, the one in whom all things exist and for whom they are destined. And then the Gospel shows us this cosmic King nailed to the cross. This wonderful irony is at the heart of the Christian proclamation: the King of the Universe is a crucified criminal, who utterly spends himself in love.
Not One Stone Upon Another
by Bishop Robert Barron . November 14, 2004 .
Our Gospel for this Sunday opens with Jesus' disciples admiring the splendor of the Temple, the most beautiful, important, and impressive building they had ever seen. And Jesus, as is his wont, pulls the rug out from under them: "Not one stone of this temple will be left upon another, but it will all be torn down!" The Gospel emphasizes over and again that nothing in this world lasts, nothing here below is ultimate. Therefore we shouldn't spend our time and energy gawking at the glories of this world; rather we should see and act in the light of a glory to come.
Celibacy: An Eschatological Sign
by Bishop Robert Barron . November 7, 2004 .
There are celibates in the church because of what Jesus said in our Gospel for today. In the world to come, the Savior specified, people will not marry or be given in marriage but will rather be like angels, experiencing a communion so intense and complete that even the richest communion here below will be as nothing. It is according to God's providence, therefore, that there be certain people who, even now, live in accord with that eschatological hope. This is why the celibacy of priests and religious is a gift for the whole people of God.
Will the Son of Man Find Faith on the Earth?
by Bishop Robert Barron . October 17, 2004 .
Our Gospel for this week ends with one of the most haunting lines in the New Testament. Jesus says, "when the Son of man returns, will he find faith on the earth?" The Christian faith has faded away, even in lands where it was once vibrant: Egypt, Turkey, North Africa, etc. Will it endure in Western Europe, in our country? The cultivation of the faith is obviously God's work first, but it is also ours. What are we doing to make sure that the Christian Gospel is successfully passed on to the next generation?
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.
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.