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Reflections on the Readings
November 10, 2013
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C
Will the Circle be Unbroken?
Jesus said to them, "The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are counted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die any more, because they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.
Going to the Chapel and Gonna Get Married
In a few days my nephew, Jonathan, and his finance, Deanna, will enter into Holy Matrimony. Jonathan's mother, Rachel, my sister, and her husband, Dr. Mark, will see their family circle enlarge. About five years ago we witnessed the wedding of our son, Timothy, and his bride, Kristin. Our family circle got bigger too. It was an incredible time. I wished at the time that the evening would never end. That's as it should be and as it is. Timothy and Kristin live each day as Jonathan and Deanna will, out of the hallowed memory of saying "I do."
After my mother passed, I never saw my daddy express any interest in marrying again. Too soon he had said goodbye to his bride. Their union brought six children into the world. I was the oldest and remember vividly at least three miscarriages. I saw my parents live out their marriage to each other with fidelity and love. It was easy, as a very small lad, to think that this was the norm; that everyone lived in a home where moms and dads cherished each other and the children they brought into the world. Like the song says, Spring is here, the sky is blue. Whooooa! the birds all sing as if they knew. Today's the day we'll say, "I do" and we'll never be lonely anymore.
But that's not absolutely true - never being lonely again. My mom died at age 60. My mother-in-law passed at age 48. Daddy breathed his last at age 75. And my father-in-law lived to be 85. As I write, his second wife, Agnes, is very ill. The family circle that Debbie and I each married into has shrunk a bit. These are folks we ate with, hugged, and bought Christmas presents for who no longer gather at our family celebrations and sit at our holiday table.
The Sadducees ask a silly question. It's silly on its surface at least. Seven brothers in succession have the same wife. After they all die, the widow also dies leaving no children. Whose wife will she be in the resurrection? That's the question the Sadducees speculate will trip Jesus up and put to an end all of this preaching about immortality.
The Memories Never Die
The memories of almost six decades fill me as I share with you my thoughts. Included on the sacred screen of my heart are the prayers, and songs, laughter, tears, and good times and other times. When I'm lonely they comfort me; by that I mean the comforting smile of my mother and words I remember she said to me. Then there is something that daddy said that comes back just when I need it. Somehow I believe that these loved ones whom I cherish, I will see again. That's my hope.
I have a child-like belief that the loved ones in my life never died. I find myself standing beside Martha. Looking up into her face, I watch her absorb the message of Jesus: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this Martha?"
The memories that feed the heart in old age are made out of love. It's the love we encountered as little children sitting on grandpa's lap. A caring and gifted teacher imparting the joy of learning also have a place in the tapestry of our memories. Special moments, family dinners, Sunday singings, evening prayers, are encoded in our personal data bank. And when we go the the Father, I don't believe for a moment that he will dismiss any of these precious memories we bring with us that have their genesis in love. When by grace we walk by the still waters, Love will lead us into green pastures, and Love will restore our soul.
The Age to Come
Satan wants us to believe that there is nothing to look forward to after this life. Jesus counters that saying, "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." Sons and daughters of the resurrection we'll be - never again to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. In the age to come the Father will embrace us in eternal kinship. The embrace of Eternal Love will bathe our natural bodies with spiritual life. And all who have died in faith, and especially those who showed us the way to the Father, we will know and love. No one will outlive another. There will be no more sad goodbyes. Those we loved well and rightly in this age, we will love well and rightly there. I will know you, and you will know me. Love will greet us at the door of eternity and assure us that nothing is broken or incomplete anymore. There is no more sorrow - and no tears stain the streets of that City. There are no funeral homes - death is swallowed up in victory - Christ in his fulness in his people - the Family Circle of Faith complete! 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: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at: www.dennishankins.com