The Daughter of Jairus and the Book of Leviticus
by Bishop Robert Barron . July 2, 2006 .
In order to understand the power of our Gospel reading for this week, we must attend to the book of Leviticus. In that great rule-book of Israelite life, we hear that contact with a hemorrhaging woman or with a corpse would result in ritual uncleanliness. When Jesus touches the hemorrhaging woman and the dead daughter of Jairus, he is not made unclean; in fact he makes them clean. In so doing, he redefines what it means to be a member of the true people of Israel.
The ‘De Profundis’ Prayer
by Bishop Robert Barron . June 25, 2006 .
Psalm 130 begins with the words, "out of the depths, I have cried to you, O Lord." Throughout the great tradition, the prayer ""de profundis,"" (out of the depths) has been one of the most powerful expressions of our reliance upon God. When our lives have bottomed out, when we are lost and at the end of our strength, we turn to God. The cry of the apostles in the boat, as the waves crash over the side and threaten to drown them, is a New Testament example of this prayer. Do you need to pray it today?
A Baby Born in Straw Poverty
by Bishop Robert Barron . December 25, 2005 .
Recently, I read an interview with Bono, the lead singer of the group U2. Asked about his religious beliefs, he replied, "I think that there is a love and a logic that lies behind the universe. So I believe in God. I also see, as an artist, the poetic appropriateness of that unspeakable power manifesting itself as a baby born in straw poverty. And that's why I'm a Christian." My sermon for today is just an elaboration of Bono's wonderful Christmas sermon.
David and Mary
by Bishop Robert Barron . December 18, 2005 .
For the fourth Sunday of Advent, the Church asks us to juxtapose stories of David and Mary. David decides that he wants to build a temple for the Lord, but God does not favor his plan; Mary hears what God wants to do through her, and she acquiesces. It is always a matter of following the promptings of the divine will and not our own desires, even when we are convinced that those desires are good and holy. Thomas Merton said, "Lord, the fact that I think I'm following your will doesn't mean that I am in fact doing so..." That acknowledgement takes great humility and spiritual perception.
Zechariah’s Strange Prophecy
by Bishop Robert Barron . July 3, 2005 .
We hear in our first reading from the prophet Zechariah. This post-exilic figure is trying to reassure the people that their Messiah will come and will restore their fortunes. But then he specifies the nature and quality of this hero: he will enter Jerusalem, not on an Arabian charger, but on the foal of a donkey--and he will effectively disarm the nation, destroying horse and chariot! What could this possibly mean? No one really knew until a young rabbi, some five hundred years later, rode into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey and mounted the victorious throne of a Roman cross.
The Beatitudes: A Spiritual Program
by Bishop Robert Barron . January 30, 2005 .
In the great opening verses of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus lays out, in short order, his ethical and spiritual program. It turns all of our customary expectations and prejudices upside down. To be "happy," fulfilled, we must empty the self, become meek, learn how to sorrow, hunger not for egotistic satisfaction but for justice, work for peace, and become the objects of persecution. Strange, puzzling, unnerving, counter-intuitive--and the key to joy.
The Baptism of the Lord
by Bishop Robert Barron . January 9, 2005 .
John the Baptist, the last and greatest of the prophets, correctly discerns that Jesus is the Son of God, but what he finds disconcerting is that this God-man comes to him for baptism: "I should rather be baptized by you." This reversal--still stunning 2000 years later--is indicative of the Incarnation's purpose: God's desire to enter into the state and condition of the sinner out of love.
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.
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.
You Have Revealed to the Merest Children
by Bishop Robert Barron . July 7, 2002 .
There is nothing anti-intellectual about the Catholic tradition. It has reverenced great minds from Augustine to John Henry Newman. But the Lord reminds us that the mind can easily become arrogant, self-important, bullying. Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest geniuses who ever lived, had, by all accounts, the soul of an innocent child.