Tuesday, April 23

Easter is about God’s love and should not be ‘domesticated,’ says Bishop Robert Barron

Bishop Robert Barron pulls no punches when talking about the transcendent and life-altering meaning of Easter.

“It’s a revolution. It’s an earthquake,” says Barron. “It’s what turned everything upside down. So one of the worst things we can do is domesticate Easter.”

Barron is a bestselling author and the popular creator of Word On Fire Catholic Ministry. 

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He’s also the bishop of the diocese of Winona-Rochester in Minnesota, and before that was the auxiliary bishop for the Los Angeles Archdiocese.  

He shared his thoughts with Fox News during a special Easter episode of “Lighthouse Faith” podcast.

Barron’s passion is reaching out to younger generations to help them grow in their faith, just as he did for actor Shia Labeoff, who converted to Catholicism under his watch. 

Barron also wants to help older generations who may have grown up seeing religion only as tradition and ritual instead of a living and day-to-day relationship with Jesus Christ.

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While modern society and culture has made Easter about bunnies, baskets, eggs, candy and spring flowers, Barron said this actually gets to the heart of what ails us. 

While the colorful decor and festivities are not in themselves wrong, they can camouflage our ultimate longings, he indicated.

“Wealth, pleasure, honor and power. Thomas Aquinas says those are the four things we seek in place of God,” said Barron.  

But, he added, “what the soul is hungry for is God, right? God is love. Therefore, the route to happiness is not filling up the ego with these four things. It’s emptying out the ego. It’s letting go.”

Easter is the cornerstone of Christianity. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is no Christmas, no Pentecost, no saints of the Church … and certainly no New Testament with its four pillars, the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, all bearing witness to Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection.

As the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (I Corinthians 15:14).

Barron said for that reason, “One of the worst things we can do is domesticate Easter.” 

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Meaning — to make it only about the fun.

Barron cuts away the frivolity surrounding the observance of Easter to help people see it instead through the mindset of first century Palestine — that’s in order to realize that this is a monumental event that changed the trajectory of human existence.

“What Easter means is someone who is put to death in the most brutal way possible by the powers of the world … by the powers of hatred and cruelty and violence and oppression,” said Barron. “This One who is done to death in the most brutal way — God raised from the dead. That means God’s love is more powerful than anything that’s in the world.”

And the power of that love, said Barron, is available to us in ways that it never was prior to 2,000 years ago. God’s love created the world — and that same love is re-creating it through Jesus Christ.

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Barron is considered the voice of reason in a time when there is increasing ideological strife among Roman Catholic bishops — and between some bishops and Pope Francis as well

Late last year, Francis removed Bishop Joseph Strickland from his position as bishop of Tyler, Texas.

Strickland said it was for “speaking the truth of our Catholic faith and [for] my warnings against anything that threatened that truth.” 

The Vatican, in so many ways, indicated it was for his overzealous criticisms of Pope Francis and his way of shepherding the church.

Although Barron has not been an exuberant cheerleader for Pope Francis, he has also not been among his ardent detractors. He’s fighting for the gospel — the gospel that the Lenten season helps illuminate.

In his article, “Let Lent Be Lent,” Barron expresses unmitigated anger at a recent “disco rave that took place in Canterbury Cathedral in England,” as part of the historic church’s outreach to younger generations.  

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Canterbury is England’s first cathedral, founded by St. Augustine in 597 AD. It is where St. Thomas Becket, arguably the most famous Archbishop of England, was murdered in 1170 AD by four knights compelled by the words of King Henry II: “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?”

Barron sarcastically commented, “The present-day managers of the cathedral felt it was just fine that very near the place where one of England’s greatest saints gave his life for the faith, a disco should break out.”

Added Barron, “The whole point, of course, is that cathedrals are not meant to be experienced ‘on our terms.'”

Neither should we make that same mistake with Easter, he indicated.  

Barron said, “Let Easter be Easter. So don’t let it be domesticated. Don’t let it be co-opted. Rediscover the radical reality of Easter.”

What he means: Easter is about saying early on Sunday morning, “The Lord is Risen!” and responding, “He has risen indeed!” 

And because of that, all life is forever changed.  

We are now living in the overlap of the ages. The old world of sin and death — of might is right and the weaker serve the stronger — is now lessening in strength against the power of this new “revolution” we are tasked with embracing.

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Think: “The meek shall inherit the earth,” “Blessed are those who mourn for you shall be comforted,” “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” — or, as concentration camp surivivor Corrie Ten Boom said to her Nazi captor, “A Light has come into this world, so that we need no longer walk in the dark.”

A student of history, Barron compares Easter to a phrase coined by the Enlightenment, “Norvus ordo seclorum.” It is Latin for “New Order of the Ages.” 

The words are also on the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States.

Still, Barron said, “The Novus ordo seclorum happened on this grimy little hill outside Jerusalem, when they put this Young Rabbi to death. But God raised Him from the dead.”

That, he said, “is the new order of the ages. That’s what Easter’s about.”

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