Jesus the Slave
by Bishop Robert Barron . September 25, 2005 .
Our second reading, from Paul's letter to the Philippians, contains one of the oldest texts in the tradition, a "hymn" that Paul received and adapted for his purposes. It speaks of a fully divine Jesus who was, nevertheless, willing to empty himself utterly and become a slave on our behalf. All of the drama, poetry, and power of Christianity is contained in that paradox.
Offer Your Bodies as a Living Sacrifice
by Bishop Robert Barron . August 28, 2005 .
Paul tells the Christians in Rome to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice of praise. I suggest that this Pauline image provides a very good context for thinking about the moral life. We want our bodies--our lives--to be pure offerings to the Father. We don't want to give the Lord lips that have spoken calumny, hands that have reached out in violence, feet that have walked away from the poor and needy. The moral life should be seen not primarily in a legal framework--but a liturgical one.
The Loop of Grace
by Bishop Robert Barron . July 31, 2005 .
It all begins with grace, and it all ends with grace. Bernanos' country priest summed up Christianity with the phrase "Toute est grace," everything is grace. God gives graciously, gratuitously, superabundantly--and then we are called to respond with a similar exuberance. The more we give back to God, the more we get, and then we must give that back again, so as to get even more in return. This is the loop of grace which is spoken of from beginning to end of the Bible. And all of our readings for today touch on it specially.
Lazarus, Come Out
by Bishop Robert Barron . March 13, 2005 .
Our God hates death. Through the prophet Ezekiel, he said, "I will open your graves and have you rise from them." Jesus came to end the reign of death, to wrestle death to the ground. In the raising of Lazarus--which anticipates his own even more glorious resurrection--he fulfills the prophecy of Ezekiel, calling the dead man from his grave.
They Abandoned Everything
by Bishop Robert Barron . January 23, 2005 .
Our Gospel passage for today, taken from the 4th chapter of Matthew's Gospel, recounts the story of the call of the first disciples. When they encounter Jesus, the Capharnaum fishermen drop everything and follow him. This represents the compelling nature of Jesus' call: nothing is more important than conforming oneself to the Word made flesh.
There is No Chaining the Word of God!
by Bishop Robert Barron . October 10, 2004 .
This week we once more hear from Paul's second letter to Timothy. He writes to his young friend from prison, chained in place by the Roman authorities. But he boldly tells Timothy that there is no chaining the Word of God. This confidence in the power of God's word is shared by all of the great saints up and down the centuries. John Paul II had it when he preached in his native Poland in the 1980's, effectively unchaining an oppressed people.
No Cowardly Spirit
by Bishop Robert Barron . October 3, 2004 .
We hear this week from St. Paul's second letter to Timothy. Paul, the old warrior, is passing on to his young disciple words of advice and encouragement. He tells Timothy that he has received "no cowardly spirit," but rather a spirit of boldness and confidence. Throughout the ages, in the saints and the martyrs, we have seen evidence of this courageous spirit that comes from the risen Christ. Did you know that the 20th century had more Christian martyrs than any other century? We can all still benefit from Paul's words.
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 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.
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.