Reflections on the Readings
Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time - November 4, 2012 - Year B
The Year of Faith
The Kingdom of Life and Love
The invitation to live in the fulness of love has never been rescinded. When I first accepted Jesus into my heart I encountered this love. Conversion is a wonderful thing. I would never discount it. But conversion is bigger than a moment in time. It's a doorway into many opportunities to grow in our faith. Conversion is a road on which we should encounter more seasons of grace to be converted more deeply and profoundly. Conversion, therefore, is not a destination. It's the very beginning of many more moments of changing, of conversion, of growing, in the love of God.
Dare we pray more fervently for an increase in faith and hope and love? I vote yes! We need many grace moments to keep us vibrant and alive and growing in Christ. Jesus, our high priest and intercessor is alive and powerful in his love to help us to see and know the Father. Through him we come to God. Jesus is holy. Jesus is innocent. Jesus is undefiled. And he is higher than the heavens. Through him and in him and by him we are called to love God without reservation. We are invited to love God with every fiber of our being; to love him with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind and with all our strength. We will love our neighbor better when we know God better and love more deeply the God who first loved us!
We think of Mary when we think of someone who loved God with all of their being. With all of her heart, soul, mind, body, and strength she gave her consent to carry in her womb God's holy love. In the midst of holy history a virgin conceived in her womb the precious Son of God. In the many centuries since, every generation has called her blessed.
When the message of the gospel is preached we are encouraged to have child like faith. It is a child who helps us to remember what it means to be full of trust and faith. I remember my childhood. It was filled with exuberant energy spent in playing neighborhood football and basketball and wiffle ball. And then I'd take a break to deliver my newspapers. There were lazy days of summer and play and competition. Those days were filled with the indescribable joy of victory and the agony of defeat. To all of this I gave my complete and undiluted time and energy. I played hard and slept good.
Those were especially happy days I enjoyed my family, my friends, and my faith. My prayers were innocent and big back then. I have not been notified that God has shrunk in his power and love and abundant life just because I've grown older. We are reminded that he never changes - he is the same yesterday, today and forever. Perhaps we need to recover the fervency of our first love for Jesus. Let us remember that it's with the unfettered way of a child that we are encouraged to respond to the gospel of life and love.
The birth of Mary's child was God's love gift to the world. And true to Isaiah's prophecy, this little child led us to the love of God. He is still leading us.
Great is the number of those who long to be like a child again and to love God without restraint and inhibition. Someone shouts out, "The kingdom of Life and Love is not far from you! Keep following that child." At that moment, Mary looked out over that numberless throng and smiled. Amen.
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to his uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org His website is: www.dennishankins.com