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.
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.
The Pharisee and the Publican
by Bishop Robert Barron . October 24, 2004 .
The Irish writer Iris Murdoch said that human beings are naturally self-absorbed and that what we need, consequently, are spiritual exercises that break us out of the narrow confines of our egos. Learning a foreign language can be such an exercise, as can a confrontation with real beauty. Authentic prayer--the kind exemplified in the humble petition of the Publican--also serves this purpose.
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?
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.
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.
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.