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.
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.
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.
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.
Jesus Yesterday, Today, and Forever!
by Bishop Robert Barron . June 13, 2004 .
Paul tells us that whenever we eat the body and drink the blood of the Lord, we proclaim his death until he comes. This means that the Eucharist involves a wonderful compression of time, past and future meeting dynamically in the present. When we gather around the Lord's table now, we call to mind the breakthrough moment of the Paschal Mystery and we anticipate the culminating moment of the end of time. In doing this, we charge the present with meaning and purpose.
Being in Christ
by Bishop Robert Barron . May 9, 2004 .
Last week we looked at the life and times of Paul, the person who, after Jesus himself, is the most influential figure in the formation of the Christian church. In this week's sermon, I look briefly at Paul's central teaching, which I identify as "being in Christ." The phrase "en Christo," in Christ, appears 83 times in the letters of Paul, indicating how central it is to the Apostle's teaching and preaching. Christ Jesus is a new energy field, a new power, a new way of being, and the idea, as far as Paul is concerned, is to get into it--so that ultimately you can say, with him, "it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me."
Four Reasons to Love Your Enemies
by Bishop Robert Barron . February 22, 2004 .
One of the most challenging and disconcerting of Jesus' commands is to love our enemies. In this sermon, I will explore four reasons why this moral demand makes sense. First, it helps us to test the quality of our love; second, it tells us a great deal about ourselves; third, it makes us see that sometimes our enemies might be right; and fourth, it allows us sometimes to win our enemy back.
by Bishop Robert Barron . February 15, 2004 .
Detachment is a key theme in the spiritual masters. It means that we must detach ourselves from all of those created goods--sex, money, power, pleasure--that are not our ultimate good. When we do this, we experience a spiritual freedom that actually enables us to enjoy those things more. Luke's version of the Beatitudes is, I submit, all about this detachment.
The Strange Path of Love
by Bishop Robert Barron . February 1, 2004 .
Our second reading for Mass this weekend is one of the most beautiful and oft-quoted in the Biblical tradition: Paul's hymn to love in the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians. Love--willing the good of the other--must undergird everything else in Christian life. Even the strongest faith, if it is unformed by love, is nothing; even the greatest pastoral outreach, if it is not for the sake of love, means nothing; even the most spectacular spiritual gifts, if they don't conduce toward love, are worthless. In light of this reading, we have the criterion by which to assess the quality of our lives.