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Bishop Robert Barron’s Sermons - Catholic Preaching and Homilies

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

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Emmaus and Genesis

It is my privilege this third Sunday of Easter to preach on one of the most magnificent texts in the New Testament, a masterpiece within the masterpiece: the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. I would like to offer a somewhat novel interpretation, one that takes its inspiration from the style of the Church Fathers and draws a correlation between this narrative with the third chapter of Genesis.


21 Apr 2020

Rank #1

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One the greatest Protestant theologians of the twentieth century, Paul Tillich, made a distinction between heteronomy (law from another), autonomy (law from oneself), and what he called “theonomy” (law of God). This week, we have the privilege to consider what is arguably the most magnificent and spiritually rich of Jesus’ parables—the story of the Prodigal Son—and in this familiar story, you’ll see the dynamics of these three approaches on clear display.


27 Mar 2019

Rank #2

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The Lord’s Vineyard

Our first reading, taken from the fifth chapter of the prophet Isaiah, presents a classic trope within the Israelite tradition: the image of the vineyard as a representation of the people Israel. We hear that the author is going to sing a song of his “friend” and his vineyard. What becomes immediately clear is that the friend is the Lord God and the vineyard is the Lord’s holy people. This song is a love story indeed, but one that stresses the demands of love. 


30 Sep 2020

Rank #3

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Abba Father, Bring us Jesus

The Our Father, the Lord’s Prayer, is a request for Christ. As we examine this most famous prayer line by line, we see it's all about Jesus. That He might come and have communion with us is precisely what we hope for when we cry out to "our Abba who art in heaven."


24 Jul 2019

Rank #4

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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.


30 Oct 2019

Rank #5

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Yes and No to Power

Our first and second readings for this weekend beautifully sum up the Church’s classical attitude toward those in power. I’ve long argued that the most influential philosopher of the nineteenth century was Friedrich Nietzsche. For this very influential and quirky German thinker, power is the fundamental reality—a perspective that has found its way into our cultural and political realms. But the Bible is not in sympathy with either the demonization of—or the exclusive holding up of—power.


18 Sep 2019

Rank #6

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Getting the House in Order

We come once again to Advent, the beginning of the liturgical year and the great season of waiting. Christian life has a permanent Advent quality, for we are always expecting the coming of the Lord. Now, Jesus came, he will definitively come, and he is coming even now—for the risen Lord wants to take up residence in us today. So Advent is, perhaps most immediately, a preparation for that coming; we are getting ourselves ready to receive the Christ who wants, even now, to be born in us. Well, how do we do this? Our readings for this first Sunday of Advent give us some wonderful instruction.


27 Nov 2019

Rank #7

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Clear a Path

In our magnificent first reading from the prophet Isaiah, which is echoed in the words of John the Baptist in today’s Gospel, a voice cries out: “Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low.” Advent is a great time for us to clear the ground, to make level the path, so as to facilitate what God, with all his heart, wants to do.


2 Dec 2020

Rank #8

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The Best and Worst of Religion

Our first reading for this weekend, taken from the first book of Kings, is one of the most beautiful and memorable passages in the Old Testament. It tells of the prophet Elijah, who heard a tiny, whispering voice, which this was the presence of the Lord.


5 Aug 2020

Rank #9

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The Ordering of Love and the Awful Story of Abraham and Isaac

Friends, if the intention of an author is to convince people to read and think about what he’s written, the author of Sunday's first reading has done his job well. We hear the deeply troubling story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his own son, Isaac. How do we reconcile God’s love with his asking Abraham to kill his own son? How should we take the fact that Abraham was willing to follow through with it? And what does this mean for how we must order our own lives?


24 Feb 2021

Rank #10

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Pray, Fast, Give Alms

Friends, Lent is a marvelous opportunity to deepen our lives of prayer, to temper our desires for food and drink, and to engage in a graced time of alms giving. Let’s use this season to get our bodies and our behavior patterns in order, to show our love and service in very concrete ways.


18 Feb 2021

Rank #11

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A Prophet Greater than Moses

Moses is, without a doubt, the greatest figure in the Old Testament. He heard the voice of God from the burning bush; he was given the Ten Commandments; he was permitted to talk to God as to a friend. But Moses speaks of a prophet who is to come, who is “like himself” and who should be listened to. Jesus is this prophet who has the legitimate personal authority to speak the divine word and bring healing to creation.


27 Jan 2021

Rank #12

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Herod and Joseph

The point of our Gospel for Holy Family Sunday is to make us see a contrast between Herod, the perfect type of the anti-family man, and Joseph, the selfless protector of Mary and Jesus. Herod’s whole existence was conditioned by and predicated upon what was good for Herod; Joseph’s whole existence and behavior are conditioned by obedience to the Word of God. Herod is out for Herod; Joseph has transcended his own ego. And this makes all the difference!


25 Dec 2019

Rank #13

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Shebna and Peter: The Nature of Authority

In the twenty-second chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah, we find the prophet’s only criticism of an individual. The man in the prophet’s crosshairs is a certain Shebna, who is described as “master of the palace.” He is a high-ranking authority in the government of the people. This reading forces us to ask a simple and very hard question: How goes it with the power and authority that you have? Do you spend the capital of your authority on projects meant to burnish your reputation or do you spend it to the benefit of others?


19 Aug 2020

Rank #14

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The God Who Enters Our Muddy Waters

The Gospel writers compel us, as it were, to pass through John the Baptist to get to Jesus; all four Gospels give us a version of Jesus’ baptism by John. But this baptism was embarrassing to the early Church, because it was interested in presenting Jesus as the Son of God, and yet people were coming to John as sinners for a baptism of repentance. Why would the incarnate Son of God seek out such a baptism? It is the very embarrassment of the baptism that, in many ways, is the point.


6 Jan 2021

Rank #15

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Pier Giorgio Frassati and Social Justice

Is the Catholic Church a proponent of social justice? Yes, according to this week's readings. They reveal a compassionate God, who hears the cries of the poor and then encourages us to reciprocate his love. Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati understood this well. The young saint heeded both of Jesus' Great Commandments by loving God and, therefore, loving his neighbor.


26 Oct 2014

Rank #16

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Peace Beyond Understanding

At the end of his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul reveals the secret to a peaceful life. Serenity of spirit, born of the confidence that one is linked to God, arrives when we surround ourselves with God's truth, goodness, and beauty.


5 Oct 2014

Rank #17

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Walking Truly and Completely with Him

In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus clarifies that all worldly goods find their value in relation to Him.  If we believe Jesus is the only Son of God, we must place our grudges, personal desires, and even our most sacred worldly obligations aside in order to walk truly and completely with Him.


22 Jun 2016

Rank #18

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Substitutionary Sacrifice

Friends, all three readings for this weekend center around a theme that was very familiar to the ancient audiences who first took them in but that is rather alien to us. I’m talking about the theme of substitutionary sacrifice. A very basic problem that we have when we seek to understand this idea is that we are marked, through and through, by a strong individualism: everyone acts and speaks for himself and takes responsibility for his own actions. But ancient people lived within a far more collective or corporate consciousness.


17 Oct 2018

Rank #19

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Choosing to Keep the Commandments

Our first reading for this weekend is taken from a book that we don’t consult that frequently in the course of the liturgical year—namely, the book of Sirach. It is presented as a series of sayings of Jeshua ben Sira, a wise Jewish elder. Our reading is taken from the fifteenth chapter of Sirach, and it has to do with the awful fact of our freedom.


12 Feb 2020

Rank #20