Fr. Robert Barron has just released his latest study program, Priest, Prophet, King. Photo courtesy of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries

A view from the Old Testament needed to understand Jesus

  • October 18, 2014

Burn your self-help books and follow the Divine Word to be happy, says Fr. Robert Barron in his new six-part study program Priest, Prophet, King.

Barron is host of this new study program, from Word On Fire Catholic Ministries, that requires Christians to steer their focus back to Christ.

Barron is also rector and president of Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake. With the lecture style that has made him a popular Catholic documentary host in the United States, he aims to teach Catholics that Jesus in the New Testament cannot be fully understood until He is viewed through the lens of the Old Testament.

This new series follows on Barron’s previous popular programs, including the award winning documentary series Catholicism (2011) and its follow-up Catholicism: The New Evangelization (2013).

Refusing to dumb down Catholicism but remaining clear in his arguments, Barron explains the three Old Testament archetypes of the priest, the prophet and the king and then creates parallels that show Jesus as the perfect priest, the perfect prophet and the perfect king. By this method, modern day Catholics can view Jesus in the same manner that first-century Christians viewed Him and may recognize more fully the power, symbolism and prophetic nature present in each of His actions.

“We cannot introduce Jesus Christ to others unless we have first been introduced to Him ourselves, and this is our purpose with the Priest, Prophet, King Formation Program — to provide an introduction to the Lord so that in coming to know Him, people might better introduce Him to others,” writes Barron in his opening letter of the study guide that accompanies his DVD lectures. The guide is written by Catholic writer and apologist Carl Olson.

Through Olson’s writing and Barron’s lecture, the Sermon on the Mount is highlighted as the summary of Jesus’ prophetic teaching and what believers should focus on to find their path to God and to happiness.

“The Sermon on the Mount, then, is the prophetic declaration of the new law by God Himself — in the flesh, face to face with humanity,” Olson writes.

Barron, in speaking about the “overture” of the sermon, separates it into the negative and the positive Beatitudes. The negative Beatitudes, he argues, teach us how to free ourselves from worshipping the false gods of sensual pleasures, wealth, power and honour.

“When we are too comfortable, we risk becoming indifferent to our sins — and that is a curse,” Olson writes.

Experiencing pleasure, wealth, power and honour is not bad, Barron argues, but they become toxic when they replace God in our lives.

“Bad worship leads to the disintegration of the self.”

He argues that once free of false Gods, we can look to the positive Beatitudes for worshipping correctly, to align ourselves with God, to thirst for righteousness, to radiate peace and to know true happiness.

“The Beatitudes teach us the real meaning of discipleship and they free us from whatever impedes our love for God, our walk with Christ and our growth in the Holy Spirit,” Olson writes.

Priest, Prophet, King is sleek in production and detailed in explanation, some lessons being more easily understood than others. It is also a call to action, explaining to the laity their role as the baptized. It emphasizes the need for priests to sacrifice and points out characteristics of prophets and the responsibilities of kings. Still, its essential purpose, as Olson writes, is “That God may be everything to everyone” because “The Kingdom of God is, ultimately, the person of Jesus Christ.”

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