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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Barron » Robert Barron - Your Life is Not About You

Robert Barron - Your Life is Not About You

Robert Barron - Your Life is Not About You

Peace be with you. Friends, this year, November the 1st, All Saints Day, falls on Sunday, so it gives us the opportunity to reflect on this wonderful feast day, and more particularly, on what it means to be a saint. One of the advantages of All Saints Day is that it emphasizes the universality of the call to sanctity. If you isolate a given saint, St. Francis of Assisi, or Thomas Aquinas, they can seem so egregious, like, "There's no way I could ever be like that". But All Saints Day emphasizes, yes, the canonized, officially recognized saints, but also all the ordinary people that we have forgotten about in history, whom God has remembered as saintly. So it reminds us that being a saint is the ordinary goal of the Christian life. Let me say that again: being a saint, it's not exceptional, egregious; it's the ordinary goal of the Christian life. Everything in the Church, I mean preaching, I mean the Scripture, I mean the sacraments, I mean the Eucharist, I mean, everything in the Church, is meant to conduce to the place where we become saints, we become holy.

I've quoted before, it's one of my favorite quotes from Léon Bloy, the French spiritual writer: "There's only one real sadness in life: not to be a saint". When the young Jacques Maritain heard that, it changed his whole life. And it will change your life, if you let it sink in. There's only one sadness. You say, "Oh gosh, I'm sad because I didn't achieve this goal. I didn't get the money I wanted, didn't get the career I wanted, didn't get the wife or husband I wanted". Well, okay. But those aren't real sadnesses. The only real sadness is not to be the person God wanted you to be. If you let that become the governing principle of your life, everything will change. So what does it mean precisely to be a saint? Well, a saint's someone who's holy. Okay. What does it mean to be holy? To be holy means to follow the will of God.

Okay. What's the will of God? Love. That's what God is. That's all God is. That's all God does. God loves, God is love. To love is to will the good of the other. Okay, there you got it. To be a saint is someone who habitually wills the good of the other. A saint is someone in whom God is dwelling, in whom the Spirit is alive, who's holy, who loves. Okay. What if you thought of your whole life now under that rubric? My whole life is to be attuned to the path of love. Huh. Willing the good of the other. What if I woke up every morning and said, "That's what I'm going to be about today". Everything else, sure. I'll do all kinds of things. But all of it under the rubric, under the aegis of, willing the good of the other. That's what it means to be a saint. Now, one of the best places to look to understand this more concretely are the famous Beatitudes. So at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus lays out these Beatitudes from the Latin "beatitudo," happiness. Happiness.

You want to be happy? Be a saint. There's the whole Gospel in a nutshell, if you want. What we all desire is to be happy. What's the formula? Well, the world tells you a million different things about happiness. The Church lays it out very clearly. Look at the Beatitudes. Look first. "How blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy". Mercy, the lovely Old Testament word in Hebrew, "chesed," which the King James renders as "tender mercy". I've always loved that. Love, in the New Testament, "agape," would be like chesed. Tender mercy. You want to be happy? You want to be a saint? Be someone whose whole life is about chesed. Again, wake up in the morning and say, "My whole day will be about  expressing tender mercy". That's the key to happiness. Another way to put it, listen again from the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the clean of heart".

To be a saint, to be holy, to be blessed, is to desire one thing. The heart, call it the  deepest center of the person, the organizing principle of your whole life. To be clean of heart, call it unambiguous of heart, single-hearted. Kierkegaard, the philosopher, said the saint is someone whose life is about one thing. I've always loved that. Again, it doesn't mean the saint has a monotonous life. It means everything in the saint is gathered, because the saint's heart or deepest center is focused on one thing, which is chesed, which is tender mercy, which is the love that God is. Now, watch. Everything else in the saint's life, from work, and relationships, and friendships, and practical life, and entertainment, and everything else, fine! But all of it is gathered according to one great principle: you're clean of heart. You know what makes you unsaintly, unholy, and therefore unhappy is to be divided in heart. We know what that's like, right? Part of me wants to go this way, the other part wants to go that way. I've got four or five things  that are governing my life. No, no, no. One thing. One thing. You're clean of heart. You know what you're about.

Now, another way to put really the same thing, I'm just going through the Beatitudes. "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness". Lovely. Righteousness, being set right, doing the right thing, being the kind of person you're meant to be. What do you hunger and thirst for? I'm preaching to myself here, everybody. I shouldn't be wagging my finger at you; I'm wagging my finger at me. What are we hungry and thirsty for? Well, all kinds of stuff. "I'm hungry and thirsty for success, I'm hungry and thirsty for power, I'm hungry and thirsty that people will like me, I'm hungry and thirsty for bodily pleasure. I wake up in the morning thirsty  for these various things". You'll be happy, you'll be holy, you'll be a saint if you hunger and thirst for one thing: righteousness. That means doing the will of God. Again, think about this now, fellow sinners. When you get out of bed in the morning, ask yourself that question: What do I want? What do I want today?

Now, you can parse that out in different ways. "I want to get to work, I want to do this and that, I want to accomplish these various projects". Yeah. Okay, fine, but behind and above all of those things, what do you want? If you're super honest, you'll uncover some of these attachments. "Well, deep down, what I want is to be a big worldly success. What I want deep down, through all these things, is for everybody to like me. What I want deep down is for my ego to be the most noted". Okay, that's the way we sinners think. You want to be holy, happy, a saint? Hunger and thirst for righteousness. What if you went through your day now, think about this, with every decision: What do I want? What do I want? Do I want to do the right thing? Do I want to follow God's will? Do I want to follow the path of love or something else? Because there's only one thing that your life should be about. If you're divided in heart, you're not going to walk this path. Really helpful. And then lastly, on these sort of positive Beatitudes, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God".

Trust me: when you hunger and thirst for righteousness, when you want one thing, you're clean of heart, when your whole life is about chesed, or tender mercy, you will produce peace around you. Trust me. Trust me. Who are the peacemakers? Those who follow this path, the saints. It'll happen as night follows day. It'll just be the natural consequence of this great orientation of your whole life. Okay? Now, I've been kind of hinting at this. For all these positive attitudes, there's kind of a negative  attitude we have to overcome, and you also see it in these Beatitudes. Listen: "Blessed are the poor in spirit". Luke's version simply has, "Blessed are you poor". How might we read this? "Blessed are you, happy are you, you're a saint, if you are not preoccupied with wealth". One of the principal distractions from the path of holiness is wealth. We think, "That'll make me happy. That will make me happy if  I just get enough of..."

Now, fill in the blank: the house, or the car, or the bank account, whatever. No you will not. In fact, lucky are you, blessed are you, happy are you, if you are not attached to material things and wealth. Listen again: "Blessed are they who mourn". And I know this can sound almost perverse, like, "What do you mean, blessed are people that are sad and depressed? Is this some kind of weird masochism"? No, no. Read it this way: "Blessed are you, happy are you, saintly are you, if you are not attached to  and addicted to pleasure". Pleasure's good, pleasure's fine. But if you make pleasure the center of your life, pleasure's the one thing you seek, and boy, there are a lot of people who walk down that road, you're not walking the path of holiness. Because sometimes, everybody, doing the will of God means you're not going to find pleasure in the worldly sense, just as doing the will of God means you're not going to be rich, necessarily, in the worldly sense. Keep going. "Blessed are the meek".

Oh, one of the other great substitutes for God is power. "I'm unhappy because I'm not powerful enough. If I was just like those powerful people, I'd be happy. Give me more power, and I'll be..." No you will not. Therefore, blessed are you, lucky, happy are you, if you're not addicted to power, you're not walking that path. That's not the one thing you want. The one thing you want is righteousness, is chesed, is tender mercy, is doing the will of God, and if that means you got to give up power, so be it. In fact, blessed are you if you're meek, see, not powerful. And then finally: "Blessed are you when they insult you, persecute you, utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me". What's being said there but how blessed you are, happy, holy, saintly, if you're not addicted to worldly honor? There are a lot of people that walk that path.

"What my life is all about is being liked, being honored, getting awards, and don't they think I'm wonderful, and boy, if the people don't like me, I fall into a depression". Well, that's just a negative path. How lucky are you, in fact, when you're not addicted to that. Because sometimes, I dare say, most of the time, doing the will of God means you're not going to be liked, you're not going to be admired. Okay? So you want to be a saint? That's the one thing you should want. That's the one thing you should want. The one sadness in life is not being a saint. Here's the program. Here's the program. Make your whole life about chesed, tender mercy, being a vehicle of God's grace to the world. Rid yourself of all of those attachments and distractions that are keeping you from walking that path. Be single-hearted, be clean of heart, hunger and thirst for righteousness above all. And you'll walk this path that God wants you and everybody else to walk. You'll be a saint. And I don't know about you, but I want to be in that number, when the saints go marching in. And God bless you.
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