Saturday, August 22, 2015

Life in the Great Mystery

Reflections on the Readings

August 23, 2015 - Year B
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Life in the Great Mystery

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

My wife and I recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. How did we stay together all these years? With lots of love and forgiveness! As the first reading reveals, life is filled with choices and decisions. I was 20 and my bride was 17 when we pledged our lives and love to each other. I boastingly say that our children got their good looks from me because their mother obviously still has her's. I also enjoy telling folks how smart my wife is. You see, she graduated from High School as a junior with honors. What prepared Debbie for High School?  It was her four years at a country school in Merriam, Illinois where 5 and 6th grade and 7th and 8th grade were in the same room. So yes, I married up. 

Mutual love and respect and a shared faith in the grace and love of God is the stuff of romance. A few years ago I hit a brick wall while in pastoral ministry. I was devastated. Physically and emotionally  exhausted my days were dark and the nights were darker. I needed help. I needed someone to tell me that somewhere, somehow, the fog would lift and life would return again to my weary body and mind. A physician laughed at me and said, "What do you know. A paranoid preacher. No, it didn't help. But one day, my bride said to me, "One day you will be as strong as you ever felt weak! It was a word from God! I felt something hit my chest with a thud and liquid strength began to pour into me.From that moment I began to walk out of the hurt, the despair, and the darkness. A few months later I became a 9-1-1 Medical, Fire, Police Dispatcher, a position I held for 10 1/2 Years. 

The teaching of Jesus is filled with Spirit and life. Throughout his ministry Jesus invited his listeners to pay close attention. He said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" Jesus explained that a wise person should take his teaching to heart and build his life on what he learned. Then when the storms of life come, and winds of betrayal and fear howl about, and doubt and accusation beat like an unrelenting rain storm on your mind and soul,the teaching and life of Christ will nourish and protect you until the storm passes by. For Christ loves us and nourishes us with his own life, with his own body and blood. And in the Sacrament of marriage, the holy mystery is that a wife and husband cherish and nourish each other in the gift of each to the other - a picture of Christ and his Church. 

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:

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