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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Barron » Robert Barron - Jesus Is the Way, the Truth, and the Life

Robert Barron - Jesus Is the Way, the Truth, and the Life

Robert Barron - Jesus Is the Way, the Truth, and the Life

Peace be with you. Friends, we’ve come now to the very end of the Easter season: the seventh Sunday of Easter. Next Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. I mentioned how, in the first weeks of Easter, we sort of focus on the radicality of the Resurrection, then in the last weeks, we're delving into the implications of the Resurrection, what it means to live the Christian spiritual life. And the focus in the Gospels has been on that magnificent section of John, chapters 14 through 17, the Farewell Discourse of Jesus. So I've been concentrating a bit the last several weeks on that. And today, it comes to a kind of climax as Jesus makes these extraordinary observations about what it means to follow him, to be grounded in him, to be at work in the world. I just want to say a few simple things.

Again, take the time as Easter season comes to a close to read those four chapters of the Gospel of John. Here’s the first thing I want you to pay attention to. Jesus says, "Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one". Now, we're on pretty holy ground here because the Son is speaking to the Father. We're given access to the inner life of God. And whenever the Son and Father are in conversation, that means the Holy Spirit's present because the Spirit is the conversation between the Father and the Son. So we are within the Trinitarian life. And what does Jesus pray for? That they, his followers, so all of us, might be one as he and the Father are one. Oh, it's a fundamental biblical truth that God is a great gathering force. God is the great unifier.

The devil, one of his names, of course, is "ho diabolos", the scatterer or the divider. God wants to draw all of us into his unity. He wants the Church to be unified, so it might be the instrument of the unification of the whole world. There’s a basic Christian spiritual truth. Origen of Alexandria said, "Ubi divisio ibi peccatum". "Where there is division, there is sin". One of the scandals, and we just have to come to terms with it, one of the scandals is that we Christians are so divided. In the same prayer, Jesus says, in the Latin version of it, "Ut unum sint". "That they might be one". "That they might be one".

The fact that the Christian churches are so divided is a scandal. And it does indeed undermine our capacity to unify and Christify the world. You know, just think about that now. As your day comes to a close, maybe do a review, an examination of conscience. "How today was I an instrument for unification"? Or "How today was I an instrument of division"? The first one is on the side of God. The second one is on the side of "ho diabolos," the divider. Here’s the second thing, "I speak this... so that they may share my joy completely".

Now, if you listened last week, I spent a little time with this, but it's worth repeating, isn't it? At the heart of the spiritual life is joy. If you've got a cramped, crabby, negative, angry attitude, you are ipso facto not living the spiritual life. And I don't mean you can't raise your voice to criticize something or complain about something. No, the great saints all did that. But they always did it within a fundamental stance of joy. That's why Jesus has come, not to judge the world, not to send the world into an attitude of self-reproach. No, he's come to share the joy that God is. I think I mentioned last week Thomas Aquinas’ answer when someone asked him, "What does God do all day"? He said, "He enjoys himself". The joy that God takes in his own goodness. That's why he sent the Son: that we might share the joy of the divine life.

So ask yourself that question too. "To what degree am I radiating joy in my spiritual life? Have I made people around me more joyful"? I love the fact that God enjoys himself all day. And why does he create? Well, "Bonum diffusivum sui" is the adage. "The good is diffusive of itself". The good tends to bubble over. God creates to share his joy and his goodness with the world. So in your case, it should also be true that "bonum diffusivum sui", the good is diffusive of itself. At the end of the day, ask yourself: "Have I radiated joy or something other than joy"? That's a good way to examine your conscience. Thirdly, and it's a kind of balancing truth, if you want, Jesus says, "I gave them your word", he's still addressing the Father, "I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world".

It's interesting, in John's Gospel, especially, that word in Greek "kosmos," right? The universe or the world. It's got a double sense. God so loved the world that he sent his only son. The world can just mean the creation that God loves. But typically in John's Gospel, "kosmos" or the world designates the world of sin, the fallen world. Call it that whole congeries of attitudes and behaviors and institutions that express the power of sin: hatred and division and violence and cruelty and injustice. That's the world, right?

So again: "I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world". What a marvelous thing now for us to meditate upon. To what degree do even we Christians still belong to the world? And be honest about it, fellow sinners. We belong to this realm of cruelty, violence, hatred, recrimination, self-absorption, anger. We're meant to be taken in this sense out of the world. I've said before that the word "ekklesia" in Greek, that's the word for church, from two words, "ek" and "kalein". "Ek" means out of, and "kalein" means to call.

The Church is that community of people who've been "ek-kaleoed". They've been called out of something, namely, the world. They've received the word from the Father and the Son. And they've been called out of the world. Therefore, typically, the world will hate them. That's a harsh truth, but boy, is it the truth? The great saints, admired? Yeah, by many. Typically, hated by many more. Go through the lives of the saints. You'll find that every time. Loved and admired by some, yes indeed. Often hated. Why? Well, because the world hates the ways of God. If the world stands for cruelty and hatred and violence and injustice, it'll stand athwart the word of salvation, the word of love. Of course the world will hate us. Don't be surprised by that.

You know, in all my years of doing seminary formation and trying to help people in their spiritual lives, we often come to this point. Maybe someone who's a good person but a little bit naïve, and they think, "My job is just to be a good, holy, and happy person, and everyone's going to love me for that". Well, some will love you for it. But I always have to remind them: no, a lot of people won't love you for that. They're going to hate you for that. Because it puts them in a bad light. It stands athwart what they're for. So don't be surprised when the world comes after you. I've always taken comfort actually in the Lord Jesus’ line, "Beware when all speak well of you. They treated the false prophets in just that way".

I know it's a temptation, and I feel it as a public figure, someone that is preaching the Gospel on the public stage, yeah, of course, we'd love it if everyone just loves us all the time. Everyone sings your praises. But come on. It's just not going to happen. In fact, "Beware when all men speak well of you". That means you're tickling their ears too much. You're telling them what they want to hear. You're just echoing the attitudes and perspectives of the world. When they hate you, when the world hates you, that's a sign that you're operating out of the truth. I've always loved, it's a similar line, from the great Winston Churchill. Churchill now, general consensus, one of the two or three greatest figures of the twentieth century. Oh but gosh, Churchill in his lifetime, in his career? He was vilified.

Think of someone like Abraham Lincoln, the greatest figure of the nineteenth century. Hated in his lifetime. I mean, just vilified. Well, Churchill said this: "A man has enemies? Good. It means he stood for something". I like that. Beware of someone who has no enemies. "Everyone likes that guy. Everyone thinks he's great". Beware of that. You got enemies? Good. It means you stood for something. And so the Lord Jesus tells us, "I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they did not belong to the world". Okay. You’ve got to be tough. Expect it. That's part of the Christian life. Then this: "I do not ask", again, Jesus is still speaking to his Father, "I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one".

That’s really rich, isn't it? See, the Church is not meant to be taken out of the world now in that positive sense. See, here he's using "world" in the positive sense. No, the Church is for the world. That's the whole point. See, the Church is not meant to just sort of rest in itself. "Well, here we are. We're all good followers of Jesus. And we're all following the rules and the liturgy. And we're all good. We're all hunkered down here safely". Yeah, but you're not meant for safety. No, no; the Church is meant to be the vehicle by which God gathers in the whole world. And so, "I do not ask you Father to take them out of the world". No, no; the Church is for the world. Even the most cloistered monk. If you look into serious monastic spirituality, it's not simply a "fuga mundi", that’s Latin for "flight from the world", spirituality.

No, no; monks pray for the world. Monks leave the sinful world for the sake of the world in the positive way. Everything in Christian life is for the world. But "I do ask you, Father, to keep them from the evil one". Who's the evil one? "Ho diabolos," the scatterer, "ho Satanas," the accuser. Yes, take them out of the realm of accusation and division. Yes, take them out of that, so that they might be for the world in a transformative way. See that's the way it works. That's the way it works. And then, just a last observation. He says, "Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth". Gosh, that’s important, isn't it? Truth. Pilate cynically says, "Truth. What's that"? Jesus: "I've come to witness to the truth," and "Ah, truth. What's that"?

It makes Pilate a very postmodern figure, doesn't it? So many of the postmodern philosophers today, and boy, those attitudes have now made their way into every college kid and high school kid in the country, "You know, truth. What's that? You’ve got your truth, I’ve got my truth. Truth is a matter of opinion, a matter of feeling. Don't impose your view on me. There's no objectivity to it". That's dangerous stuff, everybody. That's dangerous stuff. It locks us each in our own little world, and it divorces us from the truth of God, which is objective, which does apply, in fact, to everybody. "Consecrate them in the truth". God's not interested primarily in my following my feelings. I mean, my feelings could be good or bad, and my feelings could be positive or negative.

What God's interested in is the truth. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life". We're not talking about subjectivism and relativism and indifferentism and "my truth, your truth". No, no: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. Be consecrated in me, consecrated by the truth". Then you'll walk the right path. So friends, spend a little time, this is now chapter 17 of this Farewell Discourse. These great truths. Unity, "that they may be one as we are one". Joy, that's why Christ has come, to share the joy of the divine life. The world, yeah, it'll hate us the more we walk the path. You're not meant to be taken out of the world. No, you're for the world. But be taken away from the power of the evil one. And finally, don't forget the truth. Be consecrated in the truth. There's the program for the whole spiritual life. And God bless you.
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