Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Barron » Robert Barron - Give Up the Ego-Drama

Robert Barron - Give Up the Ego-Drama

Robert Barron - Give Up the Ego-Drama
TOPICS: Egoism

Peace be with you. Friends, we come to the Fourth Sunday of Advent and the Church gives us this marvelous story of the Visitation, Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth. And I'll tell you the word I've always loved in this story. It's the word "haste". Let me just read to you the beginning of this famous account. "In those days Mary set out with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth". So we're right after the Annunciation, Mary has discovered her mission, and she goes quickly. She goes in haste. The reason she moves fast is she knows who she is and she knows what she's about because she's found her role in the Theo-drama. I know I've used that word with you many times before.

See, most of us are stuck in the boring and narrow confines of the ego-drama. That's our little drama. I'm producing it, I'm directing it, I'm above all starring in it. It's this story that I'm making up on my own terms for my own purposes. Bore me to death with the ego-drama. When you're caught in the ego-drama, you don't really know who you are. You don't know where you're going because you've not been galvanized by some value, some good outside yourself that's calling you beyond the narrow confines of your little ego. Nothing's drawing you, nothing's exciting you. The result of that is what I've called before the "huh" culture. It's a lot of our culture.

You know, "I'm doing what I want to do and you're doing what you want to do, and above all, we better tolerate each other because I can't be imposing my view on you. There's nothing objectively true and good, that's just a power at play". All we've got are these little egos generating their own little dramas and kind of tolerating everybody else. Nobody moves in haste in that environment. That's the "Huh, who cares"? bored culture. The classical spiritual writers, by the way, referred to that as sloth. It's one of the deadly sins. That means it's a lack of energy and purpose in regard to spiritual things. Mary is not playing an ego-dramatic game. She's playing a Theo-dramatic game. God has revealed to her her mission, her purpose.

And so she moves; that's the sign of the saints. Even the contemplative saints, there's always something that's energetic about them. They know where they are and where they're going. I think here of Newman's famous image of the river; he says what gives the river verve and energy and purpose and directionality are the firmness of its banks. The banks are firm and the water's going to move with purpose through them, but not down the banks, Newman says. And that river that's full of energy now just widens out into a big lazy lake that's not really going anywhere; it's just kind of sitting there. That's a lot of our culture, everybody. That's a lot of our culture today, is a lot of people lying on their individual air mattresses on this big lazy lake without objective value, without a sense of purpose and verve and energy. That's why people aren't going in haste in the spiritual sense. They might be running around. There's a lot of running around in our culture. But people aren't moving with that energy that comes from high spiritual purpose.

Now here's something I love too about this story. Mary moves in haste to see her cousin Elizabeth. She reaches out to somebody else who has found her role in the Theo-drama, right? So Elizabeth too, she's pregnant with John the Baptist, she knows her purpose in God's story. Now listen to me: the ego-drama, as I've suggested, tends to drive us apart from each other. Because I've got my little story, you've got your little story, and we're just kind of tolerating each other, but no no, don't you impose anything on me. I won't impose things on you. Well, it drives us apart. It produces, if you want, the litigious and divisive society that we have. Us against them, this individual against that individual, everybody claiming rights and prerogatives and privileges. A divided society, hostile, antagonistic.

The Theo-drama tends to draw us together because once I've discovered my role, listen now, in a purpose that transcends my little petty preoccupations, I've discovered my role in God's drama, well then I'm linked to everybody else who's found his or her role in that same Theo-drama. Because now we come together in common purpose. Again, I know I've used this before with you, but this old Aristotelian idea of the transcendent third, when the great philosopher said that a relationship or a friendship or a marriage will endure not so much when the two are connected to each other but when the two together are connected to a transcendent third, some transcendent good that they both love.

Well, this is preeminently true of the Theo-drama. Together, we know what God wants us to do. And so, beautifully, Mary and Elizabeth come together. Mind you, not in rivalry. The sign that we're caught in the ego-drama is that we start conflicting with each other, right? So my little project is getting in the way of your little project and so we start fighting. It's true across the board in human affairs, isn't it? Is that we just tend to be at odds of each other because we are living ego-dramatically. When we discover our role in the Theo-drama, then we start coming together for common purpose.

Years ago, when I was a student in France, I heard a marvelous sermon for the Visitation and the preacher used the phrase, lovely in French, said, "conspiration féminin". It means literally, if you translated it, this "feminine conspiracy". Of course, "conspiracy" in English has a negative overtone, like a conspiracy theory, but "conspiration," it's from the Latin "spirare," which means "to breathe," right? A conspiration is a breathing together. It's a coming together for common and mutual purpose. Beautiful. The Visitation is conspiration féminin between these two women who have found their role in the Theo-drama. Okay.

Now what can we say a little more specifically about the Theo-drama they're in? It has a lot to do with David. Now go back to our first reading from the prophet Micah, prophesying about this little town of Bethlehem from which will come this Savior. Listen: "He (the Savior) shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the LORD, in the majestic name of the LORD, his God; and his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; he shall be peace". Micah's speaking now out of this great tradition that says: From David a descendant will come, who will be the true king, who be the true shepherd, who will, like his ancestor David, gather the tribes, who will cleanse and purify the temple and restore the fortunes of Israel.

Okay. We can hear that now up and down the psalms and in much of the Old Testament. But I want you to notice something, again, in this description. Yes, a Davidic king is being described. Yes, this human figure. "He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the LORD," etc. But then this: "His greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth," and "he shall be peace". By implication for all the nations of the world. Well, we're going way beyond the job description of a king of a little Middle Eastern nation. I mean, sure, this human figure, descendant of David, could do these good things for the sake of Israel, but this grand, this almost impossibly grand description, that "he will be peace," "his authority will extend to all the nations".

See what's being suggested everybody. And again, you can find it throughout the Old Testament, that this figure, yes, is a descendant of David. Yes, he is a human figure. But he's more than that. He's more than that. He's also, strangely, the God of Israel. Again, look in these great texts. When the Lord says, "I myself will come and shepherd my people". Now the reference is to a Davidic king who will shepherd, but yet through, behind that figure, it's the Lord himself who will shepherd his people.

Now that's, if we're reading it with care, we're reading it completely, that's what the Old Testament's predicting. A Davidic figure, who is also the God of Israel himself come to shepherd his people. All right. Now with that in the background, what's the Theo-drama that these two women, this conspiration féminin, this feminine conspiracy, what are they part of? Well listen to Elizabeth. "How does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me"? Mary, her cousin, is pregnant, obviously with this human figure. But she doesn't say, "How marvelous Mary that you who are going to give birth to this purely human child has come to me". No, no, listen again. "How does it happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me"? "Adonai".

And they knew what they're talking about. When someone at this time and in this place, when a Jew of that time and place would use the term Adonai of the Lord, she's talking about the God of Israel. She knows, and Elizabeth becomes one of the very first proclaimers of the Gospel. She knows that the one with whom Mary is pregnant is the son of David, yes indeed. But also the Son of God. See, that's the Theo-drama these two women are involved in. The coming to birth of the Son of God. And then that gorgeous detail. "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting," we hear, "the infant leaped in her womb".

If Mary is bearing the Son of God, then she is the Ark of the Covenant par excellence, right? The ark of the covenant, which in David's time bore the presence of the God of Israel. And David, when he brought that ark into his holy city of Jerusalem, did a festive dance in its presence. So John the Baptist, who like his mother is a proclaimer of this truth because he does his own version of David's dance in the womb of his mother, not before a merely human figure but before the Lord.

Now here's the marvelous thing, friends, I'll end with this. We're part of the same Theo-drama. These are events that happened long ago with this wonderful conspiration féminin. But we're part of the same story because our job is to proclaim the same Christ to the nations, that his name might go out to the ends of the world and that he might be peace. That job is now in our hands. Let's give up the boring ego-drama, let's give up the game that our culture keeps trying to make us play and embrace this marvelous, soul-expanding Theo-drama. And then, like Mary, trust me when I tell you, we'll go in haste, we'll do our role in the Theo-drama with enthusiasm. And God bless you.
Are you Human?:*