Saturday, August 31, 2013

38 Volume Church Fathers Set

$275 + $15 S/H (US Only)

I have other resources to do my writing research.
I no longer need this 38 Volume Church Fathers Set.

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Contentment and Generosity

Reflections on the Readings
September 1, 2013 - 22st Sunday in Ordinary Time- Year C

Contentment and Generosity

"You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just." - Jesus

A Genuine Reputation

I recall my dad saying, "He's a small person trying to be big and doesn't know how." Someone throwing their importance around is hard to miss. I will go on record right here and confess that sometimes I get too big for my britches. And I don't mean gaining too much weight to fit into my clothes. Although that happens too. I mean pushing my weight around creates no small amount of disappointment both in my own heart and too often wounds in others.

Some may try to improve their standing in the community by keeping up with the Joneses. It can be an expensive effort. I've heard of people who leverage themselves into a home that they really can't afford. After moving in they don't have enough money to fill it with the furniture they need. But it looks good and we may think it makes us look good to others as well. As you can see, success is sometimes a hard taskmaster. Especially this is true if our definition of success is measured with stuff and things. Somehow we never catch on that the neighbors we are keeping up with are broke too. 

Jesus spoke about a treasure hidden in a field. When it's found the finder recognizes it's value and gives himself to secure that treasure for himself. It captivates and animates his very life. He tells his family and friends that he's a new person and that he lives by another rule. Describing it he gushes with the laughter of a child. And in this life he demonstrates a child like faith and having adequate food and clothing he is content. Contentment with godliness is great gain. 

What a Friend we Have in Jesus

Jesus did not set out to make a name for himself. He rather humbled himself. Though he is God he revealed his godness in a virgin's womb. His first bed was a manger among shepherds. In Christian theology we say that he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. We confess it each Sunday by saying, "For us men, and for our salvation, he came down from heaven..." For Jesus it was about us! 

Jesus is our example. He did not come to build his reputation. His coming to us in the world in which we live was not a PR campaign. It was and remains a mission of inviting all of us into his friendship. I know we drop names and write up resumes about our incredible accomplishments. Climbing the ladder of success can consume a lot of time. I talk to people who will not let me forget to address them according to the initials that follow their name.

Can you imagine Peter telling Jesus, "I know how we can make this thing work out more profitably. We can sell tickets and invite mothers to bring their children to sit on your lap and hear you tell a story." Then all of the mothers would by their tickets from Peter and line up to get to sit on the lap of Jesus. And before you know it we have Christian consumerism and no real disciples of Jesus.

Instead, however, Jesus embraced a cross, the very sign of certain death. He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Blessed be the name of Jesus.

Love thyself or Love thy Neighbor?

In the gospel reading today, Jesus is teaching us to seek a greater life, a larger way of living. John the Baptist found and lived that life. He saw himself not on the periphery of life but smack dab in the middle of God's perfect will. Recognizing Jesus for who he was, John saw the fulness of his life wrapped up in the One who he declared to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. "I must decrease, but he must increase!" John announced. And in that attitude we see a greater glory than hugging one's self. Self absorption is the Christian life with a consumer's mindset. "What's in it for me?" becomes the all important criteria for living. That's a smallness Jesus is inviting us to escape.

Everyone loves an invitation. We prepare for special times by wearing special clothes and sprucing up. But our Lord uses the marriage feast invitation to tell us to not take ourselves too seriously. Don't go to Mass to be noticed or even to be rewarded or because it's good for business. Places of honor and prestige and recognition are not to be sought for. Such things come, if they come at all, because of something greater happening in us and through us. 

Mother Theresa comes to mind. The endless stream of humanity in all of its brokenness is what her order of the Missionaries of Charity look after. And the Kingdom gets bigger and richer welcoming the downtrodden and the afflicted as they take up the cross of Jesus and rescue the perishing of body and soul. The folks down at KARM remind us that there is more to life than stuff and things, that there are folks who could use some clothes, a meal, and a place to stay for a while. Folks who have run out of more than just stuff and things. They've run out of bread and water. Nothing, I suspect, is more like heaven than a smile from someone whose hunger is no more, and whose thirst has been quenched, and whose body has been bathed and clothed in Jesus' name.

In the passage from Hebrews today we learn of the great mystery of the New and everlasting covenant; an offer of friendship based on Love. The New Covenant, inaugurated by the gracious blood of Jesus, signals a New Day. It is marked by a deep and abiding friendship with the Almighty who extends his mercy and forgiveness to all. Through Christ the very gates of heaven have been opened to all. The Son of God, a friend of the friendless, leads the festal gathering of angels and archangels in an anthem of praise to him who sits upon the Throne. 

Jesus, our Friend, invites us to come up higher. Out of endless love for you and me, He welcomes us into the Holy Precincts of Mount Zion. Here he has the Table spread from which we receive the sacred meal of his Body and Blood. As a local church sign I read recently says: "You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving." Jesus love us and keeps giving himself to us by making room for us at the Table. Let us receive him with the humility that this holy occasion elicits. And then let us be as generous of heart as we can be since Christ has so freely given us all that brings true contentment. We shall be adequately compensated at the resurrection of the just.  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: 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Fan or a Follower

Reflections on the Readings
August 25, 2013 - 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time- Year C

A Fan or a Follower

And some one said to him, "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And he said to them, "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." (Luke 13:23-24)

No Pain, No Gain

A popular work out motto is: "No Pain, No Gain!" It means there are measurable results in muscle tone with appropriate and sustained workouts. Our youngest daughter spent this summer strengthening her core. Ballet and Tap and other dances require that the mid section of the body is firm. If it is not a dancer will wobble and tilt and fall. Heidi's summer training did not stop after the Summer class sessions which also included a one week Intensives Class. Additionally, she entertained us during the TV commercials. Lying on the floor she did for herself and her mid section exercises my mid section hasn't seen since PE class in High School. 

Heidi's commitment has given her an advantage. Did she get sore from all of the effort? The grimace on her face carried a self satisfying expression after workouts. Now back to the Conservatory for her Fall classes her efforts this Summer have not gone unnoticed. 

Exercise is a narrow door. It takes effort and discipline and time to have results. Even walking 30 - 45 minutes three times a week seems achievable until it seems you can't ever find the time to do it! It's a narrow door that never changes. It requires getting serious about lifestyle improvements. 

The Open Door of Salvation

Salvation. Our eternal destiny. The life the Father wants us to have. This also needs our attention. The spirit of the age captures our attention and energy and before you know it, prayer and the Church and all that is important and holy takes second place. Leaving the Love that loved us first causes our love for God and for each other to grow cold. 

All of the teachings of Jesus speak of making our relationship with God a priority. Christ invites us to make first things first. I understand that many think that the best part of waking up is Folger's in your cup. But is it really? Is that the best part of waking up every morning? What if you wake up one day and realize that the first things we need have become second or third or hardly at all and now its a struggle to make it to Church only at Easter and Christmas? 

In today's Gospel the message is that the door to salvation is open. It's open now. But it won't be open forever. Our relationship with Jesus matters. It matters because where we spend eternity matters. It matters because if we only have a cultural relationship with the Church - it goods for business and such things - then we must ask ourselves if we really know Jesus for ourselves. 

Jesus spoke of the kingdom as treasure hidden in a field. Finding that treasure and digging it up and possessing it ourselves is life's highest calling. Growing in the grace that has touched our lives doesn't just happen. We grow in Christ when we do the things that help us to, well, grow in Christ. Just like exercise makes healthy bodies, remaining in communion with the Church, listening to and learning the deep teachings of the Church, and growing in fellowship with one another makes healthy souls.

In the reading from Hebrews today, Paul speaks of the daily trials of life and the discipline the Lord means for us to take from those trials. Every day we are to see through the eyes of faith what the Lord is making of us. There's not a week that goes by that I haven't felt neglected, misunderstood, taken for granted, or wrongly blamed. Such times are painful. But it's supposed to be painful. Only when we allow that pain to do its work, when we press through it and receive such discipline as God's love, will the peaceful fruit of righteousness begin to show in our lives. May God help us to wear the grimace on our face with a satisfying grin of hope that one day we may be all we are meant to become in Christ.

A Casual Acquaintance or an Ardent Lover

The Gospel for today concludes with an important challenge. After Noah and all who were with him entered the Ark, the Lord shut the door. (Genesis 7:16) Much like the door to the Ark was shut, the door to heaven will close. Time will be no more and all who have prepared and made themselves ready will partake of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

In the Gospel before us Jesus speaks about those who bumped into him on the street. Many had casual encounters with Christ. They ate and drank with him and gave him a little time by listening to his talks. But they never committed. They never accepted the deeper opportunity to follow him. Unlike Peter and John and company, who had left everything to follow Jesus, many could not, did not, make knowing Jesus a priority.

Some will say, "But we ate and drank in your presence." Various interpretations of this line include the notion that these are those who ate and drank Christ in the Eucharist, but didn't really know the Christ they consumed. Paul does make the case that we eat and drink judgment to ourselves if we eat and drink Jesus unworthily. 

So what are we to do? We make a simple but fervent prayer in the Holy Spirit asking the Father to make us true lovers and followers of Christ. Because it is not fans of Jesus who make it to heaven, but rather those who have forsaken this world and its spirit to know Christ, and him crucified. 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 him at:   Visit him at:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Branch Rickey and Number 42

Reflections on the Readings

August 18, 2013 - 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time- Year C

By Dennis S. Hankins

Readings For This Sunday

Branch Rickey and Number 42

"Do you think that I have come to give peace on the earth? No, I tell you but rather division." - Jesus 

Making a Dream Come True

Branch Rickey was named general manager and president of the Brooklyn Dodgers organization in 1942. His fame grew when he broke the unwritten color code in major league baseball by signing Jackie Robison in 1945. Robison first played in the minor league for the Montreal Royals before his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on opening day, April 15, 1947. The rest, as they say, is history. 

One of my favorite baseball movies is 42. It tells in dramatic detail Rickey's and Robinson's courage to challenge the color barrier in baseball. They did so at a time when our country more often judged people by the color of their skin. Signs stating 'White Only' kept our black brothers and sisters in the back of the bus and from pissing in the wrong toilet. The same mental disorder afflicted those who kept baseball segregated. It is this affliction of mind and soul that Branch Rickey saw clearly, and knew would keep the game of baseball from being a true field of dreams. 

What Robinson inspired cannot be over stated. It filled back yard sand lots all over America. Little white boys and little black boys imitated their icon, Jackie Robinson, and carried in their hearts an aspiration of becoming a major league baseball player too. 

But it would be several years before civil rights for everyone regardless of color prevailed. It would take a Baptist preacher and jail time, church bombings, blood shed, marches, and the nightmare of KKK cross burnings before Martin Luther King, Jr, would give the world his memorable "I Have a Dream" speech. On August 28, 1963, from the heart of Washington, DC, the most powerful place in the world, this inspired preacher opened his heart and God filled it with a dream. And through him the Spirit gave us a word of hope that one day all of God's children would sing, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Three Against Two and Staying True

Many saw Rickey, Robison, and Dr. King as dividers. Out of place and out of touch some would say. But they were men who endured the cross to achieve something great. They saw a joy beyond their sacrifices that the world cannot give and consequently cannot take away. Disregarding the hostility of their time they picked up their cross and followed Jesus. They pricked the conscience of the bus driver and the restaurant owner. The politician, the baseball owners, and church authorities didn't escape either. Maybe three against two ain't so bad after all!

I grew up Pentecostal and know a little bit about being on the outside looking in. I was called a holy roller and some thought we handled snakes, which we didn't. But in that little Pentecostal church I heard that Jesus loves me. They gave me a love for the scriptures and planted in me a desire to evangelize. We sang with our hearts and testified that Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever! 

Back in those days we heard that various ecclesial communities were debating whether the Bible was true, and wondering out loud if God was dead, and questioning if it was relevant to keep singing about the blood of the Lamb. It mattered not to us because we knew better -  we farmers, janitors, truck drivers, factory workers, and all the rest - we kept singing, shouting, praying, and preaching about the love of God and his desire that none should perish! To some we didn't fit into mainline church life. Yet the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement has brought about more unity and vitality to the body of Christ than the supposed division it caused. That's because, believe it or not, what we have in common is greater than what divides us. 

Itching Ears and Happy Talk

Jesus said that everyone speaks well of the false prophets. Their speech is flowery and cushy and gives the people what they want to hear. Jeremiah brought a message to Jerusalem that sounded like defeat to those drunk on the happy talk of the political and military leadership. He told his people that they better give it up to the Babylonian invaders because they would fare better capitulating rather than fighting back. It was not the message the princes appreciated. They told the king that Jeremiah was a greater threat to the peace and security of the city than the Chaldeans' threatening sword and the havoc and death it would leave behind. "Resist and die or surrender and live," Jeremiah warned. 

Jeremiah's message was not the happy talk the itching ears of Jerusalem wanted to hear. In the early years of the Christian era, St. Paul advised Timothy that some would not endure sound teaching. He described such folks as having itching ears who find teachers who suit their own liking. The result is incomprehension of the truth and enslavement to myths. 

In our day we see a similar reality. Those who hold to things that never change are labeled as divisive and out of step with the times. Not unlike a Branch Rickey or a Dr. King. Beliefs in the Sacrament of Marriage or the sanctity of life from conception to natural death is deemed short sighted and bigoted. But like Paul instructed Timothy, "Be steady, endure suffering, and do the work of an evangelist. Fulfill your ministry." (1 Timothy 4:3-5) In the strength of Jesus we can remain vigilant and persuasive for in the mighty name of Jesus we can do all things!

Perfecter of our Faith

People of Christian faith are called to make a difference in the world. Branch Rickey was such a person, a man of deep faith who dealt the color barrier in baseball a lethal blow. His mother made sure that her son knew the rules of heaven. Because of how he was raised, Branch wouldn't go to his own team's scheduled Sunday games. I suspect God used Rickey to cross the color barrier because he was credible. God made Rickey an evangelist for a social justice issue whose time had come. 

God is not willing that any should perish. Nor is he willing that we be weak and lackluster in our witness to the greatest love this world will ever know. Jesus endured the cross. He calls us to share in his work of redeeming the world. If daily we offer ourselves as instruments of grace God will use us where we are. He will perfect our faith making it strong and effective. And maybe, just maybe, because we have been found faithful, God will let all of us wear #42. 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 him at:   Visit him at:


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Open the Eyes of My Heart

Reflections on the Readings
August 11, 2013 - 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time- Year C

Open the Eyes of My Heart

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. - Jesus

"I had my heart set on that!" Someone exclaims with a voice of disappointment. We've all said it. Just when you thought the deal was done, the loan approved, the project awarded, it evaporated into thin air. Poof! And it was gone. And your heart sunk. When you thought you couldn't live without it you realized you would be living without it. Life goes on and we need faith to assure us that we must live rightly and fill our hearts with 'treasure in the heavens.'

The readings today suggest there is treasure that is substantial and filled with great reward. About five decades after the Passion of our Lord, Luke writes for the earliest followers of Christ. He invites them to remain fearless, to be filled with faith, and to always be vigilant.

We Have a Future - Why are we Afraid?

If half of what we fear was even remotely real, we should all be dead. But we're not. Life goes on. And more and more, as we grow in Christ, we begin to believe and understand that it is our Father's intention and pleasure to give us the kingdom. There you have it. It pleases the Father to promise us an inheritance within his thrice holy family. It is a communion of love about which we struggle to describe with earthly language. 

We know such love exists for we know by the Spirit there is love, a healing and soothing and redeeming love. Words of this world may fail us to speak of such love. But we must try. For if we do not praise him the very rocks will cry out and adore him! But it is we who are the living stones of a living Church conceived by a loving God. Let us be bold and exult in the Lord for praise from the upright is fitting. 

There is a future for us that is incorruptible and full of glory. We taste it and see it with eyes of faith in the eating of the holy bread and in the drinking of the holy wine. Reserved for us is a treasure in the heavens that does not fail. No thief approaches the holy habitations. There is nothing that corrodes or wears out or falls apart there. We shall be like him for we shall see him as he is. It's that future filled with indestructible hope and why Luke begins today's gospel saying, "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."   

Faith is a New Way of Seeing!

Is it possible to see what it is the Father is giving us? A prayer we might pray more often is, "Open my eyes Lord, and help me to see." But it's not our natural eyes we pray for. We pray to see with the heart because it's the inner blindness that trips us up and keeps us from seeing the spiritual kingdom; the gift of the Father. Its light reveals to us a world of life, a life that is ours through the Spirit. Without it we remain blinded by self interests, machinations that work to keeps us from love for God and for our neighbor. It's that vision we need to remain loving and compassionate, kind and forgiving. Seeing with the eyes that God gives us opens a whole new way of seeing. With our inner eyes opened we see what is true, good, and beautiful. The lust of the eyes of our flesh deceive us while our true eyes help us to see as we were meant to see from the beginning.

The Old Testament Fathers of Faith are described for us in the second reading. From them we inherit a new vision, the vision the Father has for us and for our world. Given the gift of faith, father Abraham looked up into the heavens and glimpsed a city not made with hands where the righteous shine as the stars of the cosmos and are as innumerable as the sand on the sea shore. 

Witnesses to the faith remind us that we do not seek evidence in order to believe. Somehow within their hearts they believed and then saw the mighty workings of him who called them out of darkness. Abel offered sacrifices that were a sweet smelling savor in the courts of holy love. Cain despised Abel and gave the world its first martyr. It is Abel's blood that cries out from the ground as a witness of one who saw God and in his heart glorified him.

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob continued in faith and were heirs of the same promise. What might that promise be? They saw a world of no more tears, no more sorrows, and no more death. For with their heart they believed and with their mouth they confessed that they were journeying toward home. It is the home of all who love and know the truth. Faith always gives a new way of seeing. And a new way of seeing and knowing means a new way of living and loving. 

This came home in a particular way for Abraham. The promise to Abraham was that through his son Isaac would come his descendants. In a remarkable display of trust and obedience Abraham offered up the son of promise because he considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead. That's a remarkable vision of faith. It's a vision that brings about a knowing and a conviction of things not seen. By such faith men of old received divine approval. 

It occurs to me how much we need this same kind of vibrant and eye opening faith. Everyone of us have an opportunity to see through the eyes of faith. To have a vision of Christ and hearing him say, "Greater things than these shall ye do, because I go to the Father." I'm not sure we've fully tapped into this revelation. I'm not convinced that the world has seen all that the Father wills to do through the Church conceived through the blood of the Lamb. Whatever it is that we may yet see it will be the result of having come to walking faithfully in that light that no darkness can conquer. In whatever way we have remaining blind spots concerning the heavenly kingdom, God can help us to daily have a new way of seeing. For we do not walk by sight but by faith.

A Holy Vigilance - A Heavenly Vision

The first Passover was observed in Egypt just before Israel began their pilgrimage to the Land of Promise. On that historic night the firstborn of man and beast in all of Egypt were slain. Only in the homes of the chosen people where the blood of the lamb was smeared above the door did the angel of death pass over. Those families ate the lamb with their loins girded and with their lamps burning. The head of every household led his family in a night of vigilance and readiness. For the Lord was about to lead his people out of bondage.

Vigilance is still the watchword for the Church. The opposite of that is slothfulness, one of the seven deadly sins. It imperils our soul and dulls our senses to what is eternal. Through new eyes we can see things that others on this planet may not know exist. But you and I do. We have a Master who is coming again. We keep this hope alive by being good stewards of God's calling on our lives. As good stewards of the grace we have received we are called to let the light that we have received shine for all the world to see. Let your light shine in such a way that everyone may see too. The whole world is in need of amazing grace. Of grace that is greater than sin. Of grace that gives the gift of sight to those blinded by the devil's trickery.

We need a fresh vision of heaven. I pray we all may have a revival of a new vision of God's love for the least, the last, and the lost. Vigilance is necessary if we are to be the Church that grows in grace and in the knowledge that Jesus came into the world to seek and to save the lost. He came that we might all be saved from the awful tyranny of hell's designs. Jesus came to lift our hearts out of darkness and to give us new eyes; eyes of faith that the passage of time does not erode. He gives us eyes of faith that see what God has prepared for those who love him. And when the outer man of flesh and bones grows old with age the inner person of our heart is being renewed. For when we close our eyes for the last time in this world we will awaken to see what we always knew was there; a better country, that is, a heavenly one. 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 him at:   Visit him at:




Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Things That Matter Most

Reflections on the Readings
August 4, 2013 - 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time- Year C

The Things That Matter Most

Jesus said to them, "Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

Free From Stuff and Things

There's something magical about a heart unfettered; free to embrace simple joys and to imagine if it is possible to count one's blessings like one might count the stars in the sky! When the biggest thrill of a day is the laughter and love of family and friends, that's a good day. It is a life and heart filled with true treasures and a lifetime of memories that don't rust or corrode. For our life does not consist in the abundance of stuff and things. 

Greed is one of the seven deadly sins. It deceives the heart and shrivels the soul. The intense and selfish power of greed fails to discern the difference between trinkets and treasures. God made us to be Temples of the Holy Spirit. Created in his image we need the life that comes to us from the good Spirit he wants us to have. You and I must always be careful what we set our heart on. For if we do not seek what is above we will be imprisoned here below. We whom the Father made to be free were never meant for enslavement to greed.

Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." The rich man in today's Gospel made a fatal mistake. He turned inward and wretchedness and selfishness ate at his soul. The crops he stored in his bigger barns became a noose around his neck. He said to his soul, "Eat, drink, and be merry!" Those words became a death sentence. Stretching out on his Lazy Boy chair he lit a cigar and opened his check book to make sure it was all there and closed his heart. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 

The Gifts that Keep on Giving

In many places in our world a fresh water well is vital to the survival of the tribe. For Christmas one year we bought some ducks through an organization to provide a family with duck eggs to eat. Community food banks and second hand clothing stores all rely on our generosity. America wastes about 40% to 50% of all food harvested per year. An executive told me one time that bringing lunch to work rather than eating out would save about $30,000 over the span of a career. The old adage, waste not, want not, comes to mind.

The rich man in todays parable saw his success only in terms of personal advancement. His heart grew blind to his real need and to real living. What mattered most was within his power to do. Instead, his soul began to suffocate because he no longer breathed the air of heaven. As we hear in today's second reading: "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." 

Our True Mission and Treasure - If You Choose to Accept It

The breath of God in us is the Holy Spirit who raises us to know Christ and helps us to see with the eyes of Jesus. Christian faith reminds us that this world is not our home; we are only passing through. But going through it we must have the inspiration of him who healed the sick, fed the hungry, comforted the sorrowing, and raised the dead. We are entrusted with the continuing mission of Jesus to bless the poor and those who are in need. There is no higher calling than to understand that we are here to bear one another's burden. Paul said, "I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." We come to know the richness of our faith when we give it away. When we stop and pray for someone faith becomes a gift. Helping someone halfway around the world to dig a well for fresh water takes faith, faith that finds that water and gives a whole village enough drinking water for everyone. 

I tell my children to use their talents to refresh and to bless someone else. It matters little making a billion dollars with your talents for if you can't do it and treat it as a gift from God, that billion dollars will crush your soul. Jesus said, "Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back."

We all know that we can't take our stuff and things with us when we die. Sometimes we act like maybe we can bring some of it along. Our attachment to our things shows how unaware we are how empty things are. A house is a necessity but it is still a thing. Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you." 

Paul reminds us that Christ is our life. And when he comes again, then will we have a place with him in glory. We won't be stopping by to pick up our stuff and things. For the things that really matter have to do with whether I loved God with everything in me, and my neighbor the way God loves my neighbor. That's what matters. That's what really matters. It's what really matters to God. So when we check out of this world may we be found in his likeness, renewed in his presence, and hear him say, "Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord."

That's what really and truly matters most! 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 him at:   Visit him at: