Bishop Robert Barron on The Calling of the Disciples

Bishop Robert Barron on The Calling of the Disciples


just recently I had the privilege of saying Mass for about 300 seminarians and the gospel for that weekend was taken from the fourth chapter of Matthew and was particularly appropriate for priests and seminarians I want to reflect on this and my focus audience really is priests and seminarians but anyone else that wants to listen eyes is more than welcome to because it has residents really for any serious Christian it’s the story of the call the first disciples and we hear this of course as he Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers Simon was called Peter his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea they were fishermen he said to them come after me I will make you fishers of men so a famous line which resonates in the heart I think of anyone who feels a call to the priesthood certainly fishers of men he wants to fish people out of something the implication is there’s there’s a sea that people are swimming in that is just not good for them well it wouldn’t be hard today to find what that sea is is the sea of a secularist ideology which says you can be perfectly happy with the goods of the world and I’ve said many times this does great violence to the human heart because as Agustin said the heart is wired for God our heart is restless to look rest in God we are ordered by an innate natural desire toward ultimate truth ultimate goodness ultimate beauty and so no truth goodness or beauty in this world no wealth pleasure honor or power in this world could finally satisfy that longing in the heart which is why the secularist ideology is a deadening ideology why it is an immature to spiritual structure of the human heart and so the image to me of fish is a good one I think of a lot of people today who are kind of floating around aimlessly dead-eyed glassy-eyed in this sea of the secularist ideology they might have a lot of wealth and pleasure and honor I run them all the time I hear from them all the time but they are like fish glassy-eyed aimless in the sea of secularism Jesus wants helpers who can fish people out of this morass and that’s the call down through the ages in some sense that every Christopher I think in a specific way to to priests to be fishers of men there’s also reference just prior to the section I run and it was in the gospel that I preached on where Matthew cites the prophet Isaiah land of Zebulun land of Naphtali the way to the sea galilee of the gentiles the people that sit in darkness have seen a great light well the reference there is to the region really where Jesus was from up there in the kind of northwest part of the promised land Zebulon enough tally were ravaged by the Assyrian invaders back in the tenth century BC it was a land that was particularly affected by the Assyrian invasion people were killed in prison many carried off into exile the people that walk in darkness have seen a great light the point is people today in the grip of the secular ideology are like people in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali there in the darkness of this spirit deadening point of view the people that walk in darkness have seen a great light where the light is Christ himself who’s come into this place to bring light Jesus is calling followers now to be light bearers to the land of Zebulun and Naphtali okay so that’s the mission that’s the call how do you get there what’s required if you do this work listen I will make you fishers of men at once they left their nets and followed him now your Galilean fishermen in the first century your net so they would they would sort of cast these nets out that were weighted and the net would go down and would catch the fish it was the principle tool of a Galilean fisherman the net therefore symbolized if you want livelihood professionalism their connection to the economic world it meant security if you took a galilean fisherman’s net away you were taking away his livelihood so they leave their nets it means they left their preoccupation with livelihood and money and financial security they let go of that in order to follow Jesus and to do what he wants now listen his story goes on he walked along from there and saw two other brothers James the son of Zebedee and his brother John they were in a boat with their father Zebedee mending their nets he called them and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him so two more brothers two more fishermen James and John preoccupied of course with their nets as any fisherman would just as a you know first they might be practically with us with his tools or with his car or whatever his professional you know vehicle is so here they were tending their nets there in a boat with their father they leave both boat and father and follow him what’s a boat well it was an essential part of a fisherman’s livelihood but also think of it as a symbol of their own autonomy you’re a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee your boat that was it I mean you were the captain of that boat you were the navigator that boat you used that boat for your purposes that was your life now they’re saying I’m abandoning boat I’m abandoning my autonomy because I’m now going to get into his boat I’m going to do what he wants I’m going to go where he leads me I’m going to follow him they surrender their autonomy secondly they left their father Zebedee there was no Society maybe ever history more family-centric than the Society of Jesus time your duties and obligations to your mother to your father your brothers and sisters your even your extended family were enormous they were life too fine that’s why it’s so shocking by the way when Jesus says in the Gospels you know to the guy that says I’ll follow you but first let me bury my father well that’s something the most sacred obligation you can imagine Jesus says let the dead bury their dead he says unless you love me more than your mother and father well ice extraordinary thing your mother and father it was the most pressing obligation you had unless you love me more than them or the woman you know how I blessed her the the breasts that nursed you in the womb that bore you know blessed rather those who hear the word of God and keep it is he against families nobody’s relativizing families he’s relativizing the claim of a family on you what’s most important is your relationship to him they leave their nets that means livelihood money security they leave their boats that means autonomy they leave their father that means all their obligations to the family and they go after him now for priests and seminarians correlate these three things to three of the most important promises that we make they left their nets dicen please don’t make a vow of poverty but we make a sort of commitment to simplicity of life for us money and financial security can’t be paramount it can’t be we we eschew those we accept a simplicity of life why because we got to be free we got to be free to follow him where he wants us to go we can’t have our nets as it were entangled in all the values and goods of the world secondly they leave their boats leave their autonomy one of the great promises of priests makes is to obey the bishop and his successors so 28 years ago I knelt before Joseph Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago I put my hands in his hands and I promised obedience to him and his successors well I knew him a little bit not real well but I knew him a little bit I guess I I trust what he’s gonna do III know what to expect but hey I didn’t know who Frances George even was when I made that promise Cardinal Bernardin successor carnal joy I know idea was but yet I was making a promise of obedience to him what was I saying and indeed that promise has had a huge impact in my life because of my obedience to him my life has taken a whole directions I never would have imagined I left the boat I left the boat behind it wasn’t me my boat I wasn’t in control but rather I’m gonna follow the Lord and it finally priest make a promise of celibacy and I want to press this in terms of leaving your father it doesn’t just mean that these particular people my family are now not the primary value of my life it’s also the demand and expectation of the family in ancient times as well as in modern times what’s the primary expectation of a family well that you would carry on the name that you would give rise to children that you would be part of this great heritage when you make a vow of celibacy you’re doing many things but one of them is you’re saying no raising up children to my father is not my main value carrying on my family tradition is not my primary value but rather generating spiritual children for Christ in the church so I told the seminarians think of these three things they leave their nets they leave their boat they leave their father as evocative of these three great moves simplicity of life obedience and celibacy terrible burdens owner wrist responsibilities no no don’t seem that way see them rather as invitations to freedom so that we can be free fully to be the fishers of men that Jesus needs

29 Replies to “Bishop Robert Barron on The Calling of the Disciples”

  1. I just came back from a 7 day silent retreat out in Conception Missouri. I needed to hear this as I renter the secular world. Remind me of what is most important. Thank you Fr. Barron for this and all you do. 

  2. Fr, you should shave your head for St Baldrick's Day!!! Help raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer research!!!!!!

  3. Not to be a contrarian but shouldn't the title be changed to the call of the Apostles & their priestly successors rather than "Disciples?" Although chastity is a normative condition for all followers of Christ, poverty isn't, nor is obedience to any specific ecclesiastical superior. Obedience to the Magesterium is of another category altogether & is incumbent on & normative for all Catholics including priests. "Simplicity of life" should be a worthy goal for all humanity, not just Catholic priests or those in religious orders.

  4. Fr Baron, 3:48 minutes into this video there is a portrait with men gathering at a table. I have seen this once before and would like to know what is the story behind this image.

  5. Well said, but what is the meaning for me of giving up your boat/livelyhood and following Jesus? I am a Newlywed (2 years) who just bought a house and have a kid on the way.Should I leave my Job? How will I pay for the house/feed my family? Should I sell my house? Where will my family live?

  6. Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! Keep the word on fire and relevant to our pressing needs, the needs of the human heart, to know, love and serve Him! This is freedom!

  7. I'd love for you to do a part 2 on this theme and include what you wrote in your book, The Strangest Way, about the types of Disciples, the Petrine, the Johnanine, and the Pauline. Very interesting perspectives of all of those 3 of those. Both strengths and weaknesses.

  8. Great work Father as always but I also feel that equally to the choice of the vocation of marriage and raising a family as a father which is so diminished in todays life.   There is great sacrifice in todays world to provide for the care, education, spiritual need and growth as a parent especially a father. God is the ultimate father.  I wanted to become a priest but after prayer realized that was not my calling nor could I honor celibacy !  But same marriage and father of five 31 years so far. 
    I wouldnt have traded the experience and thank God every day  

  9. 6:45, I know we shouldn't take the bible literally, but here isn't Jesus saying that we should not burry our dead loved ones, and go pray or go to mass instead? How do we know when Jesus is using hyperbole, and when He is being completely literal?

  10. Your Eminence, your exegesis reminds me of Origen's allegorical technique. Thank you for this beautiful contemplation

  11. There are 2 Gospel examples about Jesus Christ calling us to be his disciples. "Many are called, but few are chosen." And the 2nd one is from the Gospel of John. "It was not you who chose me. It was I who chose you." Jesus chose me to become his disciple. Why? Because he saw ambition and potential in me. And because of my infant baptism. I maybe mentally disabled, but I have a special relationship with Jesus and his Heavenly Father within the Catholic faith. Some people may not understand that. But the church members of the Catholic Church understand like my mom and aunt.

  12. Sorry my eng is not good
    Word diciple in my opinion is Albanian Alb..DI-KNOW ShQIP-SCIP word di shqip means ''know albanian''
    Alb .. call themselvs SHQIPtar the eagle is SHQIPONJE-EAGLE ''DI SCIP''-KNOW ALBANIAN ''le'' is sufix ''di scip,le'' word is not Latin ''SCERE'' is not close to the truth greek ''manthan''
    name PAUL is albanian too imo PA in alb means to ''SEE''-PA UL means to SIT-UL
    Paul sees a light from the haeven and fell or sit down PA-SEE UL-SIT your god can be Albanian JEZUS his mother called him HJESHUA,r means beutifull in Alb. this is my opinion

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