Kingdom of God
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.
Magi Came From the East
by Bishop Robert Barron . January 2, 2005 .
We see in the visit of the Magi to the Christ child the first hint of the internationalism of Christianity. Precisely because Jesus is the Word made flesh, the very personal presence of God, he speaks to all nations and all peoples. The Christian message is meant to overcome all of the petty divisions that characterize the human race: "In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, no man or woman."
The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
by Bishop Robert Barron . December 5, 2004 .
In the eleventh chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah, we find a description of the gifts of the Holy Spirit with which the Messiah will be embued. They include wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fear of the Lord, piety, and fortitude. The good news is that these gifts are given to all of the baptized, all those who participate in the Messiahship of Jesus Christ. What precisely are these gifts and what difference do they make in our lives? Listen in order to find out.
Christ the Crucified King
by Bishop Robert Barron . November 21, 2004 .
Our first reading for Mass this Sunday is taken from the opening chapter of Paul's letter to the Colossians. There is no stronger statement of the absolute primacy, centrality, and importance of Jesus Christ in the entire New Testament. Jesus, Paul tells us, is the beginning and the end, the icon of the invisible God, the one in whom all things exist and for whom they are destined. And then the Gospel shows us this cosmic King nailed to the cross. This wonderful irony is at the heart of the Christian proclamation: the King of the Universe is a crucified criminal, who utterly spends himself in love.
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.
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.
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.
A Portrait of the Church
by Bishop Robert Barron . July 4, 2004 .
Our Gospel reading for this Sunday is the account of Jesus' sending of the seventy-two disciples. In the instructions he gives them, we can discern an outline of the life and work of the Church down through the ages. At our best, we are missionary church, empowered by prayer, marked by simplicity of life, bearing health and salvation, and proclaiming the reign of God.
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!
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.