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.
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.
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 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.
Training in the Divine School
by Bishop Robert Barron . August 22, 2004 .
In the years following the Second Vatican Council, we became very hesitant ever to invoke the category of the divine punishment. Yet, this motif can be found throughout the Bible, both Old Testament and New. How do we properly understand it? Our second reading from Mass, taken from the letter to the Hebrews, gives us some important guidance. It places God's punishment in the context of love and discipline. God punishes us, not capriciously and arbitrarily, but out of a desire to bring us to deeper life, much as a parent will, from time to time, punish a child. I'm eager to hear your reaction to these reflections on a tricky but important theme in Biblical theology.
The Wisdom of Qoheleth
by Bishop Robert Barron . August 1, 2004 .
Our first reading for this Sunday is taken from the wonderful book of Ecclesiastes. This Biblical text is made up of the cranky reflections of Qoheleth, an old man who has seen it all and done it all--and finds all of it "vanity and a chase after wind." Why do we attend to his rather sardonic meditations? We do so because it is altogether salutary to be reminded that our ultimate joy is found in none of the goods of this world. So sit down with Qoheleth, pretend he's your curmudgeonly but loveable grandfather, and listen.
The One Thing Necessary
by Bishop Robert Barron . July 18, 2004 .
Both our first reading and Gospel for this week speak of the importance of keeping our attention riveted on God. The three angels visit Abraham, and he drops everything in order to receive them with hospitality; Jesus comes to her home, and Mary sits at his feet, listening to his words. When God is the absolute priority in our lives, everything else that we are worried about about falls into place. Augustine said, "love God and do what you want." This implies that once God is the unambiguous center of our lives, we can confidently arrange and respond to all of our particular concerns.
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.