Fr. Robert Barron Offers Thoughts on 2 Samuel and Sacrifice in the Hillenbrand Distinguished Lecture Series
During its summer 2012 session, The Liturgical Institute welcomed The Very Reverend Robert E. Barron to offer a talk in the Institute’s Hillenbrand Distinguished Lecture series. Giving his first public address after being named President/Rector of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, the noted proponent of the new evangelization provided insights from his research for an upcoming book on the Second Book of Samuel.
Entitled “David Dancing Before the Ark: The Liturgical Theology Implicit in 2 Samuel 6,” Fr. Barron’s lecture addressed the role of King David as a new Adam, “leader of a properly defended Eden.” More than a king, Barron argued, Adam had also been a priest who, walking in easy fellowship with God, was naturally in the stance of adoration. Yet after the Fall, the world suffered a “suspension of right praise as a consequence of a failure in priesthood.”
In second Samuel, Barron argued that David becomes a priest because he presides over a “liturgical kingdom,” and so Samuel chose 30,000 men to recover the Ark of the Covenant and return it to Jerusalem that he might center his liturgical empire around right praise. Barron then turned his attention to the “sacrificial history and attitude of Israel presided over by the one who is not only King but priest as well.” Only in relationship to Adam can David’s dancing before the Ark be properly understood, Barron claimed, since Adam “danced in unison with the Lord,” while a sinful people felt “out of step with God.”
David therefore danced before the Ark as an image of “humanity dancing with the Lord, recovering the effortless harmony of Eden.” Fr. Barron then noted that the “gestures and movements of the priests in the Jerusalem Temple were intended to mimic, in a stylized way, the exuberant dance of King David. And since the ritual moves of the Byzantine and Catholic Mass trace their origins to the Temple,” one could conclude that the “processions, gestures, and bows of Christian priests today participate in the priesthood of the king who wore the ephod as he danced before the Ark.”
Before the talk, Liturgical Institute director Fr. Douglas Martis gave Fr. Barron a historic photo of Msgr. Reynold Hillenbrand, for whom the lecture series is named, and to whom Barron looks as a role model for his own time as Rector. Many thanks to Fr. Barron for sharing the fruits of his labors with us.