What Are You Afraid Of?
by Bishop Robert Barron . June 19, 2005 .
"Who or what are you most afraid of?" is, I submit, a very important spiritual question. To answer it honestly is to know how and why your life is structured the way it is. The simple message of the the Gospel for this week is that one should fear, above all, the loss of friendship with God. More than the loss of money, health, power, the esteem of others, life itself, one should be afraid of losing intimacy with God. If that is truly your greatest fear, you are not far from the Kingdom of Heaven.
Habemus Papam (Part 2 of 2)
by Bishop Robert Barron . May 8, 2005 .
This week I continue my exploration of the life, career, and work of our new Pope, Joseph Ratzinger. In the years after the council, a split occured in the ranks of the Conciliar progressives, some calling for deeper and broader reform and others calling for a more careful appropriation of Vatican II. Joseph Ratzinger, along with Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Karol Wojtyla, belonged to this latter group. The commonality between Ratzinger and Wojtyla led to John Paul II's choice of Ratzinger as his Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.
Habemus Papam (Part 1 of 2)
by Bishop Robert Barron . May 1, 2005 .
This week and next, I reflect on the life and work of Joseph Ratzinger, the man who now leads the church as Pope Benedict XVI. Ratzinger was strongly shaped by his Bavarian Catholicism, by his struggle against Nazism, and by the "nouvelle theologie," the new theology inaugurated by Henri de Lubac and others. This set of influences made him a unique and powerful voice at the Second Vatican Council. More on his post-conciliar career next week.
Getting Back to Basics In the Spiritual Life
by Bishop Robert Barron . February 13, 2005 .
On this first Sunday of Lent, the Church asks us to get back to the spiritual basics. We are compelled to consider once again the story of the Fall. God wants us to be fully alive, but fullness of life comes ultimately only as a gift of grace and not an accomplishment of the will. When Adam and Eve grasped at godliness, they violated the law of the gift: your being increases in the measure that you give it away. This sin is reversed in the Gospel story of the temptation. Jesus consistently resists the devil's suggestions and makes the Father's will the center of his concerns. In Jesus' resistance, the momentum of Eden is reversed.
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.
The Word Became Flesh
by Bishop Robert Barron . December 26, 2004 .
The words of Thomas Jefferson defined our nation; the words of Abraham Lincoln strengthened its resolve at a time of unprecedented crisis; the words of Martin Luther King effected a moral revolution; the words of Winston Churchill turned back an evil empire. Words--even puny human words--pack enormous power. Imagine the power of God's Word, made flesh in Jesus Christ. It unleashed a force that, 2000 years later, continues to change the world. Christmas is the day when we celebrate that power.
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.
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 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!