Bishop Robert Barron's Sermons

Bishop Robert Barron's Sermons

United States

Weekly homilies from Bishop Robert Barron, produced by Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.

Episodes

A Great Light in the Darkness  

This week's reading from the prophet Isaiah emphasizes God's tendency to bring the best from the worst situations, light from the darkness. Throughout the Bible we see wonderful things come from the most unexpected places, and this is reflected in our own lives as well. Very often our greatest goodness can come from the darkest places of our beings.

Knowing Who We Are  

The entirety of this Sunday's second reading might be seen as so much boilerplate, throwaway lines that a writer used at the commencement of his letter, something like a formal salutation. But in point of fact, almost the whole of Christianity is contained in these lines, if we have but the eyes to see. So take out your Bibles today and revisit the beginning of 1 Corinthians. It will tell you pretty much everything essential that you need to know about yourself and your mission.

The Light of the Nations  

Today's readings for Epiphany speak of a light that shines on Israel, the chosen people, but that is meant for the whole world, a light that is a beacon summoning all the nations. And that light is Jesus Christ himself. As the prophets predicted, this Light is the illumination of all the world, the Light to whom all seekers are destined to come.

The Light of the Nations  

Today's readings for Epiphany speak of a light that shines on Israel, the chosen people, but that is meant for the whole world, a light that is a beacon summoning all the nations. And that light is Jesus Christ himself. As the prophets predicted, this Light is the illumination of all the world, the Light to whom all seekers are destined to come.

To Treasure Revelation  

There are three words that jump out at me from our Gospel reading for today's feast: "haste," "astonished" and "treasured." Each one says something important about the spiritual life. When we know what God wants for us, we should act without hesitation; we should "go in haste." When God breaks into our natural world, we should be astonished. And then, like Mary, we should learn to treasure God's revelation in our minds and hearts.

Christ-Mass  

Our Gospel for Christmas day is, of course, one of the most famous texts in the entire Bible: the Prologue to the Gospel of John. In many ways, it is the entire Gospel, indeed the entire Bible, in miniature. This scripture alludes to a feast day called "Christmas", a name that has rarely been reflected upon, at least in my lifetime. The day is Christmas, because it signals Christ’s Mass. The only fitting way to celebrate is to go to the Mass!

History is Going Somewhere, And It Rhymes  

As the Advent season comes to its climax, we are reminded that all of time and history comes to a kind of fulfillment in the Messiah. All of the strands of history are gathered together in him. To use the language of St. Paul, all of space and time is recapitulated in Christ. This Sunday our three readings show a pattern in history that spans seven centuries and calls out to us now two thousand years later: It's all about Jesus.

“Tell John What You See and Hear”  

Our Gospel for this weekend is taken from the eleventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, where John the Baptist has been arrested and wonders from his jail cell whether Jesus “is the one or should we look for another?" When this inquiry is conveyed to Jesus, the Lord does not respond theoretically, but rather by pointing to things that are happening, namely, God's grace is making people whole again. “Go tell John what you see and hear".

Eden, The Mountain, and The One Who Baptizes with Fire  

This week's readings take us to chapter 11 of the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah looks back to the garden of Eden and the world in right alignment with God, and then looks forward to the Messiah who will set right what has gone wrong in God's world. Sin interrupts right order, justice, and goodness. The righteous king will restore justice when he rules on his holy mountain.

The Mountain of the Lord  

This week we enter into the great season of Advent. Our first reading from the prophet Isaiah describes how every nation streams towards God's holy mountain. As you enter the Advent season, think about this holy mountain. Is the mountain of the Lord higher than every other mountain for you? Do you stream toward it with your whole being?

Three Aspects of Christ’s Kingship  

We celebrate, as the very last Sunday of the liturgical year, the feast of Christ the King. Think perhaps of the way that a king would come last in a great formal procession: so this feast comes as the culminating moment of the Church year.What I should like to do in this sermon is to explore three dimensions of Christ’s kingship, one inspired by each of our three readings for today so that we might marvel at the sublimity of what a strange and surprising king he is.

A Theology of Work  

I’m pretty sure that in thirty years of priesthood I've never preached on this Sunday's short second reading from Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, and I realize now, as I peruse it, what a little gem it is! Isn’t it fascinating that St. Paul, precisely in the context of a letter to his church on spiritual matters, endeavors to speak of work? When we do authentic work—of whatever kind—we participate in God’s ongoing creation and providence. Don’t follow the instinct to secularize work; but rather see your daily labor, however humble, as part of God’s plan to bring you to joy.I’m pretty sure that in thirty years of priesthood I've never preached on this Sunday's short second reading from Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, and I realize now, as I peruse it, what a little gem it is! Isn’t it fascinating that St. Paul, precisely in the context of a letter to his church on spiritual matters, endeavors to speak of work? When we do authentic work—of whatever kind—we participate in God’s ongoing creation and providence. Don’t follow the instinct to secularize work; but rather see your daily labor, however humble, as part of God’s plan to bring you to joy.

The Martyrs and a Higher World  

The story conveyed in our first reading from the second book of Maccabees is one that resonates up and down the ages, one that still stirs our hearts today. It's the story of a martyr's death. We can talk about heaven; we can speculate about it. We can write learned treatises about it, and we can hope for it. But up and down the centuries, it is the martyrs from the ancient Maccabees to the Christians slain by ISIS that most vividly witness to the promise of heaven. They literally bet their lives on it.

The Love of Predilection  

In Luke's Gospel we read the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus, as chief tax collector, was considered a very bad man in first century Israel, but Christ greets him with love. It is the love of God that causes everything to be, and comes before everything we do. God does not love us because we do good; we do good because God loves us.

Prayer and Pride  

The entire point of religion is to make us humble before God and to open us to the path of love. Everything else is more or less a footnote. Liturgy, prayer, the precepts of the Church, the commandments, sacraments, sacramental—all of it—are finally meant to conform us to the way of love. When they instead turn us away from that path by devolving into a source of pride and pomposity, they have been undermined. Jesus' famous parable about the prayers of the pharisee and the tax collector from this Sunday's readings illustrates precisely this danger of coopting religion for the purposes of our ego.

The Integrated and Variegated Body of Christ  

Our first reading from the book of Exodus is illuminating at so many levels. On the surface, this is a report of an ancient war, more of a tribal dispute really, between two minor peoples. But read with a sensitivity to the multivalence of the Biblical text, this report clues us in to the spiritual warfare that always obtains in a fallen world. We should expect a battle when we walk the path of Christ.

The Integrated and Variegated Body of Christ  

Our first reading from the book of Exodus is illuminating at so many levels. On the surface, this is a report of an ancient war, more of a tribal dispute really, between two minor peoples. But read with a sensitivity to the multivalence of the Biblical text, this report clues us in to the spiritual warfare that always obtains in a fallen world. We should expect a battle when we walk the path of Christ.

Paul on the Meaning of “Gospel”  

Something I’ve found over the years is that people use the word “Gospel” to mean all sorts of different things. People say, “I’m committed to the Gospel.” “I want preach the Gospel.” “I want to live according to the Gospel.” But what precisely do people mean when they say these things? The word literally means “good news.” But what good news? We have a wonderful text for our first reading today from Paul’s second letter to his disciple and friend Timothy. One of the many things that makes it wonderful is that it contains a very pithy summation of what St. Paul meant by the word “Gospel.” When we unpack this summation, we hold the key to transforming the world.

What it Means to Live by Faith  

This Sunday's readings compel us to meditate on the meaning of faith. Paul Tillich, the 20th century theologian, said, "Faith is the most misunderstood word in the religious vocabulary". Faith is an attitude of trust in the presence of God, which is simple enough to say, yet to live by faith means to surrender your entire life over to God, abandoning your own desires and becoming a servant under the realization that everything you have (including your very existence) is a grace, a gift. As we see in the lives of the saints, amazing things happen when we make this transformation; indeed, that which begins with a mustard seed of faith can grow, by the grace of God, to bless the whole world.

Rich Man, Poor Man  

Friends, I have spent the past 12 days in Rome for “baby Bishop school”, and just returned today. As such, I asked my Word on Fire team to reach into our archives for this week’s sermon. I’ll be working on new sermons, articles, and video commentaries in the days and weeks ahead. But in the meantime, I hope that this archived sermon will help you to understand and personally appropriate the Scriptures for this Sunday, which remind us that we cannot remain indifferent to the poor, whom the Lord has determined to be a privileged route of access to his life and presence.

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