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Don’t water down Christianity

“Everybody worships somebody or something. Everyone’s got a king, right? Our job is to stand up boldly and say, ‘No, Christ is your king. Everything in your life belongs to him’.”

Bishop Robert Barron asked some 8000 people at a Catholic leadership conference to help “remind the world whom they are to worship.” He said that trust in the risen Christ should give us the courage to preach the truth boldly.

“Through the Holy Spirit, the ascended, risen Christ commands his mystical Body the Church to do what he did, and to say what he said. That’s it…that’s the task of the Church to the present day.”

While caring for the poor is important, Bishop Barron said, this work “in and of itself can never be evangelically sufficient.”

“This is not the time for anti-intellectualism in our Church! We have lots of young people who are leaving the Church for intellectual reasons,” Barron said.

He called for a kind of “bold speech” needed to proclaim the Gospel, pointing to the preaching in the early Church, which challenged the widely held belief at the time that “Caesar is Lord.”

“The bold speech of the Church is that not ‘Caesar,’ or any of his successors, but rather Jesus is Lord, Jesus is the king. And he is also Christos, anointed.”

“If he is Lord, everything in your life belongs to him. Your personal life, yes. Your body, yes. Your friendships, yes. Your political life, yes. Your entertainment, yes. All of it.”

When Christianity becomes reduced to a mere message that can be gained from the dominant culture, Bishop Barron said, it moves from the faith of early persecuted Christians to one which is rewarded lavishly by others.

“In the Acts of the Apostles we hear that when those first disciples spoke, people were cut to the heart. Still true, still true to this day. Bland spiritual teachings, saying what everybody else says, that won’t cut anyone to the heart, but trust me, declaring the lordship of Jesus, that’ll cut them to the heart.”

Bishop Barron highlighted Jesus’ role in light of the Old Testament, saying that only as a fulfillment of laws and the prophets does Jesus make sense. When Jesus is cut off from his roots in Israel, he becomes just a philosopher or wise figure, a “flattened out, uninspiring Jesus,” the bishop warned.

In contrast, he said, “when you present Jesus as the fulfillment of the great story of Israel, Jesus as the fulfillment of the temple that was meant to bring humanity and divinity together, when you preach him as the fulfillment of the law and the covenant and the Torah, when you preach him as the culmination of all the proclamation of the prophets, people will be cut to the heart.” – CNA

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