Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Gift of Giving

Reflections on the Readings

October 25, 2015 - Year B

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

by Dennis S. Hankins

Readings for today

The Gift of Giving

The poor widows in the readings of today remind us what it means to love God more! 

They show us the richness of their faith- a faith that moves them to embrace the reality of things not seen. For faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

Generosity is a word that rightly describes the Christian. For by faith Christians and many moved by compassion have built hospitals and schools, and sent medical supplies and water and food to the ends of the earth. And sometimes when supplies seemed not enough often became more than enough in the hands of him who multiplied the loves and the fishes.  The widows of today's readings inspire us to  trust more in God, to desire more to participate in His generous love for the least among us!  What does it mean to love God more?  It may mean that we trust God to meet our needs, even when we do more to make sure our brothers and sisters are adequately assisted.

Putting God first with all that we have, with all our body and soul is not easy, but it does liberate us from being selfish and self centered.  

I have met such people of God whose goodness and generosity have impacted me and my family in recent days.  How near God has been to us in the generosity of those who have reached out and embraced us in the love of God.  All of us are called to give, to let our light shine , to share what we can.  John Wesley, the Anglican priest who was the founder of the Methodist Church said, "Make all you can, save all you can, then give all you can."  I take that to mean, work hard, be frugal, and then be generous.  As we share with others, we are called by God to be cheerful in what we give, and then watch Him as He shows us His pleasure and gratitude, as He pours out upon us and our family His blessings such as there may not be enough room to receive it.  (Malachi 3:10)

The lesson of the readings is this:  It will all work out for us in the end, especially if He finds in us a generous heart, a compassionate spirit, and a desire to help where we can and give all we can. For Jesus himself appears in heaven itself to intercede for us with compassion for all that concerns us.  O what a Savior!  Let our giving be in the name of Him who emptied himself for us men and for our salvation. No, we can't outgive the Lord, but we can be filled with the sacred heart of Jesus in all we do.

Now an update since my surgery:  Words are not enough to explain how deeply my family and I have been touched by your sacrificial giving and the assurance of your prayers.   Since my brain cancer surgery, the nearness of God has been evident.  I'm in my fourth week of radiation and chemo therapy.  Blood work confirms that my chemo treatment has not adversely affected my blood count, kidneys, or liver.  There's more to go, but I wanted to thank God and you especially for storming heaven in my behalf.  How grateful I am for your prayers which continue to embrace me and my family.  Receive our love, and we hope that in all ways you are blessed by Him who gives us himself in bread, which is His body and the chalice which is His blood.  Amen! 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Crying Out To The Lord

Reflections on the Readings

October 25, 2015 - Year B

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

by Dennis S. Hankins

Hebrews 4:12

Bartimaeus, a blind man, sat by the roadside begging.  On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me."  Many rebuked him telling him to be silent, but he kept calling all the more, "Son of David, have pity on me."  Jesus stopped and said, "Call him … What do you want me to do for you?"  And the blind man replied to him, "Master, I want to see." 

Crying Out To The Lord

Frankly, we are all Bartimaeus.  All of us in some way or another reside at the side of the road of life hoping that someone might help us.  Millions, in fact, sleep under or on cardboard, under the bridges, or on the bench at the park, in need of better food, a shower, a shave, and some good conversation.  

Bartimaeus has never seen a sunrise nor a sunset.  No light has ever pierced his eyes. He has never seen the beauty of kids playing in the neighborhood or seen a mother hold her baby like a treasure.  But through tears he cries out for mercy, much like a baby cries for help when he feels alone or forsaken or in need of mother's milk.  Such prayer is rich and bold.  And like the second reading from last week, such prayer is encouraged.  In other words, let us indeed cry out boldly for the mercy and grace we need.  For our God is able to do exceeding and abundantly above what we cry out for. Another popular and favorite scripture is 2 Chronicles 7:14.  If my people, which are called by My name shall humble themselves and pray,  then will God hear from heaven and will heal their land.

It remains a mystery to me why anyone wants to rain on such necessary and fervent prayer.  Perhaps it's embarrassing or someone thinks God is not interested in our seemingly petty and small issues.  But let us not forget that Jesus said, "Come unto me all of you who labor and are burdened down, and I will give you rest."  Let us cry out, for He will hear us when we are at our lowest low and our deepest need.  You will never hear Jesus say, "That crying soul over there is annoying me."  Just like the cry of a baby for the embrace and assistance of his mother, so our deepest need and request touch the heart of our Father.  For like a mother, He is aware and knows our every concern.  And even should our weeping last through the night, in the morning, there will be joy.  

Indeed in that eternal day, there will be no more sorrow, no more tears, no more pain, no more blindness of soul and body; for He who fills us with light and life that is immortal, is also the light of that city where there is no need for the sun!  So dear children of God, cry out!  Cry out for mercy and healing; cry out more and more.  Cry out until you hear Jesus say, "What is it that I can do for you?"  In that moment, don't hold back, spill your heart, and you shall receive more that you could ever dream or ask for.  Praise be Jesus Christ! Amen. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Throne of Grace

Reflections on the Readings
October 18, 2015 - Year B
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

by Dennis S. Hankins

For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but in every respect who has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The Throne of Grace

From the beginning, the beloved apostle, John, perhaps the one closest to Jesus, explained that the Logos of God was made flesh and dwelt among us as one full of grace and truth.  He and all the apostles together beheld His glory.  

We know that everyone who felt drawn to Christ were welcome in His presence, including the leper and the military leader seeking healing for his feverish daughter.  In fact, no one was excluded including the little children who giggled while sitting on His lap.  In every way, everyone found Jesus accessible, available, and touchable.  Christ was not among the people as one who came seeking attention, but rather came with the heart of a true shepherd, to seek and to save whoever was lost.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save and to heal and to restore and to forgive.  For he came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for us.

Therefore, we have an advocate with the Father.  He is Jesus, the same Jesus, who in the days of His flesh offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears. He humbled himself and became obedient to all that was contrary to His nature, even death, death on a cross as He uttered these words, "Not My will, but Thy will be done."

This emaciated King of glory, my friend, is the Captain of our salvation, whose name we invoke before the throne of grace, and through whose name we ask and receive mercy and grace so that our fears may be drenched in peace and our lives and our hearts may be ransomed, healed, restored, and forgiven.

But like the famous commercials, Wait!!  There's more.  He who made the lame to walk, the leper clean, still in this 21st century lays His healing hands upon our bodies.  For as He was on earth, He is even the same at the right hand of the Father; for Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, always and forever full of grace to help us in our every need.  Let us, therefore, indeed come with confidence to the throne of grace, upon which He sits, to the same Jesus who made the blind to see, and the deaf to hear.  And then, on the third day, following His death on the cross, said to Satan, "What else do you have?"  Then the devil and his minions scampered off into the darkness to perhaps find another group of hogs to drive crazy.

My dear friend, please know there is no pain, nor fear, nor anything present, nor thing to come but that our Lord has already tasted it and overcome it.  For Jesus in His everlasting humanity, flesh of the flesh of Mary and a high priest forever is always sympathetic for us in all that  makes us weak and vulnerable.  For He is our Jesus, our Emmanuel, God ever with us, who is touched by the feelings and trials of our infirmities. So let us invoke His name over all that afflicts us and over all for whom we pray.  For these signs will accompany those who believe; in my name they will cast our demons, they will speak with new tongues, they will pick up serpents, and if  they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; and they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.  With these final words, Jesus ascended into the heavens and sent out His disciples with these words, from east to west, entrusting them with the imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation, the good news for body, soul, and mind!

Allow me to close with this encouragement:  the Father's throne of grace is always open.  It remains as it always has been, an open invitation to all of us to enter into the mystery of grace that always invites the lost, the least, and the lonely into its divine embrace.  We are reminded that God is not mad at us, nor has He ever been.  For Jesus the second Adam, invites the sons and daughters of the first Adam into His fellowship and communion, who dwells as St. Paul says in unapproachable light whom no man has seen or can see, into which He invites us to come boldly with confidence and faith with our praises and petitions in the name of Him who is the potentate of heaven and earth and whose kingdom and eternal love has no end.  Amen!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Light of God's Word in our Heart

Reflections on the Readings
October 4, 2015 - Year B
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

by Dennis S. Hankins

Unless you turn and become like children…
The Light of  God's Word in our Heart

God's word is light, revealing whether the thoughts and intentions of our hearts are true, good, and beautiful.  Of course, we pray that our deepest meditations are true to our participation in the divine nature.  In as much as the teaching of the Lord is alive and sharper than any two-edged sword, we must accept that conversion of heart and soul and spirit is the way to all that is true and good and beautiful about Him whom we call "Father."  For the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.

The living word of God measures and examines the thoughts and intentions of our hearts, teaching us to eschew what is trash and to embrace what is treasure.  As God speaks to our heart, the beauty of holiness touches us so that we may contemplate the rich and merciful love of God, a truly good meditation for the heart and spirit, which can permeate even the joints and marrow of this frame of dust, which God exalts as a temple of the Holy Ghost.   

So a question:  do the thoughts of our heart reveal one who is growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, the everlasting King of glory? Is the special place called my heart filled with the prayer, "In my heart, be glorified."?  For like David, we ought always to pray, "Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me."  This is necessary so that we may think rightly about God as our Father, and ourselves as one who bears God's image;  and also that we may relate to one another rightly as dear brothers and sisters in Him who has loved us.  For we are a family, each one looking into the perfect law of liberty, the very mirror of God's word, understanding that we are servants who must always give an account.  (Romans 14:12)

Here are some things to ponder:  First, the brightness of God's word takes away the power of darkness in our lives.  Secondly, the light of the word and teaching of Christ gives us the strength and the desire to have a heart that is faithful to Him, who alone has the right to reign in this place called my heart.  And lastly, the discerning word of Christ shows us the way to be loyal and faithful to Him who is the way, the truth, and the life, even Jesus, who gave Himself for the life of the world. 

Let us therefore live with a heart devoted and in solidarity with Christ, whose face is the face of those for whom nothing has been prepared; whose parched tongue is the tongue of the thirsty; whose life is the life of the poor, the widow, and the orphan.  May we be filled with the love of God, and be cheerfully loving and merciful and kind to one and all!  Amen. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Reflections on the Readings
October 4, 2015 - Year B
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dennis S. Hankins

Matthew 18:3  
Unless you turn and become like children…

The Haunting Routine of Violence

President Obama spoke to our nation about the tragedy at Umpquah College in the state of Oregon.  From his heart, the President spoke of the routine of violent behavior, the routine reporting of such violence, and his own routine of coming before the nation to speak about such violence.

This senseless nightmare is Satan's effort to make us think that Christ's love is without merit and lacks strength to rid the soul of sin's dark blot.

The monstrous actions of the shooter reveals a violent disregard for our fellow sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.  It is selfish, arrogant, and rude in its absolute essence, and is  resentful of the fact that others like one's self are made also in God's image.  

This violent sickness believes somehow that God's image, equitably given to all, is somehow given less to one's self.  Thus violence lashes out, as though God has not freely given us all things, including His very image.  

Therefore, such expression seeks to destroy, to kill another like one's self, and wrongly believes that somehow I am defending God's integrity, as if the children who sit on Jesus' lap are an imposition rather than an expression or example of perfect love.

In truth, at age 60, I hear Jesus calling me to reject always in my thoughts, in my words, and in my deeds the haunting, barren routine of violence, and rather take up the dance of love and see God perfect in His love; violence therefore stripped of its power.


Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN.  Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at:

Reflections on the Readings

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Heart Trouble

Reflections on the Readings

August 30, 2015 - Year B
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Heart Trouble

 And he said, "What comes out of a man is what defiles a man.  For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man."

Life is more than just how diligent we are in dotting our 'i's and crossing our t's. A lot more! We don't need spiritual brownie points, we need a heart that is free from the tyranny of sin. A good prayer to pray is, "Lord search me and examine me and see if there be any evil in me.That prayer helps us to point the finger at the right person. It is so easy to name the sins of the other person. But today we are challenged to ask ourselves, "Am I just a hearer of the word of Christ or am I an example of his life, his love, his teaching." If the word of truth grips our heart, feeds our imagination, then we are a first fruit of what will one day be what we expect the new heavens and new earth to be like. For nothing unclean or defiled can be there. And if we expect to be there then we should pay attention to any heart trouble of the sort Jesus describes. 

I like the song that says: It's me, It's me, O' Lord, standing in the need of payer. David prayed for a new heart and a right spirit after his sin of adultery and murder found him out. God knows the thoughts and intentions of our heart. We are only fooling ourselves when we think we are hiding anything from him. Yet He extends to us and to all grace we don't deserve and love that we cannot earn. The invitation that still has no small print says, "Come unto me all of you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

When we come to confession, there is nothing hidden, and what we hide is not invisible. It is more important to be forgiven rather than deceived. For if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1John 1:8)

What comes through today's readings is that the Father offers us a personal relationship. And certainly our heart should be his and his alone. For it is in the deepness of the God who is love where our own heart is made new and fresh in his love. With a new heart comes a new way of relating to others, especially those nearest and dearest to us. For everyone we meet bears the same image of God. So let us have a generous heart for all - with a heart free from evil thoughts, envy, slander, and pride. For our heart is meant to be the throne of the King. May we greet each other with the humility that resembles the King and receive each other as brothers and sisters in Christ So, Take my heart Lord. Come and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above. Amen.

Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN.  Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at:

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Special Request

Dear Friends, 

As you already know, because of my requests for prayer, our daughter, Melissa, was unexpectedly hospitalized for seven days. She was admitted with chest pain, and was diagnosed as having a blood clot that led to a stress heart attack. The cardiac physician also discovered an anomaly in her heart in the electrical side of things that required a procedure that completely cured her of that anomaly. However, Melissa was also diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. All of this came on the heels of just having major surgery one week prior to this crisis. 

As you can imagine, this hospital stay comes with tremendous expense. In addition to the medical bills, Melissa has been unable to work for the duration of her hospital stay as well as many days after she was released. She is, at this point, only able to work limited hours as she recovers and learns to live with diabetes. 

We are asking for help for our daughter in dealing with the financial devastation that has come from this unexpected health crisis. Our son, Reverend Timothy Hankins, has set up a link for this purpose. Any amount you can contribute will help a wonderful young woman recover from a horrible circumstance. Thank you for your generosity and for your continued prayers and support. Here's the link:

With grateful hearts,

Dennis & Debbie Hankins