Zacchaeus, Hurry Down
by Bishop Robert Barron . October 31, 2004 .
The story of Zacchaeus is an icon of the spiritual life. Even the worst of us have, deep down, a hunger for God and a desire to see Jesus. When we follow the promptings of that desire, wonderful things can happen. Of course, when Jesus enters our lives, he means business: "I am coming to stay at your house this day," he says to Zacchaeus. Christ will not be a peripheral interest, one value among many. Once we invite him in, he will be the Lord of our lives.
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.
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 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.
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 Lesson of the Prodigal Son
by Bishop Robert Barron . March 21, 2004 .
Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son is one of the most memorable, carefully crafted, and inspiring stories ever told. In some ways, the whole of the Christian "thing" is summed up in this narrative. We have a God who invites us into the dynamism of his own life, and who relentlessly pursues us even when, in our stupidity and sin, we refuse to respond to the invitation.
Four Reasons to Love Your Enemies
by Bishop Robert Barron . February 22, 2004 .
One of the most challenging and disconcerting of Jesus' commands is to love our enemies. In this sermon, I will explore four reasons why this moral demand makes sense. First, it helps us to test the quality of our love; second, it tells us a great deal about ourselves; third, it makes us see that sometimes our enemies might be right; and fourth, it allows us sometimes to win our enemy back.
The Strange Path of Love
by Bishop Robert Barron . February 1, 2004 .
Our second reading for Mass this weekend is one of the most beautiful and oft-quoted in the Biblical tradition: Paul's hymn to love in the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians. Love--willing the good of the other--must undergird everything else in Christian life. Even the strongest faith, if it is unformed by love, is nothing; even the greatest pastoral outreach, if it is not for the sake of love, means nothing; even the most spectacular spiritual gifts, if they don't conduce toward love, are worthless. In light of this reading, we have the criterion by which to assess the quality of our lives.
Feast of Christ the King
by Bishop Robert Barron . November 23, 2003 .
The final Sunday of the Liturgical year is dedicated to Christ the King. One of the earliest forms of Christian proclamation was "Jesus is Lord." This was meant to be provocative, since Caesar was customarily described as Lord of the world. The first Christians were saying that Jesus is the one who must in every sense command, direct, and order our lives. Is Jesus truly the King of your life? That's the hard question which this feast raises.