Monday, May 21, 2018

May 23, 2018


May  23, 2018

Thought for today: 

“Our concern is not how to worship in the catacombs but how to remain human in the skyscrapers.  

Abraham Joshua Heschel  [1907-1972]

May 22, 2018


May 22, 2018

Thought for today: 

“You grow up the day you have the first real laugh - at yourself.”  

Ethel Barrymore [1879-1959]

May 21, 2018


The silent lily, the green 

grass background, 
just standing there -
shaking, bending,
being there beautiful,
but it can sin,
therefore,  it can't love,
therefore, I rather be be.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2018  

May 21, 2018

Thought for today: 

“Don’t ever slam a door;  you might want to go back.”  

Don Herold

Sunday, May 20, 2018



The title of my homily for this feast of Pentecost - 50 days after Easter - is, “Have Faith.”

When I read today's readings and that theme hit me, I said to myself, "What? Where is that coming from?"

So here goes. Let me try to explain.


A classmate of mine in August of 1966, said something to me that has had an  impact on my life ever since.

Larry and I - as well as 13 other guys - were ordained  priests in June of the year before.

I’m talking to Larry a year later and he says to me, “Wow! I just realized I’ve been preaching the same sermon every weekend for the past year. I’ve been saying to folks, ‘Have faith.’”

Then he paused and said, “I guess I was talking to myself. I guess I need faith - deeper faith.”

So I asked myself, “What have I been preaching on?”

I didn’t have an answer as clear as his answer. I didn’t know. 

I still don’t know after almost 53 years.

Do I have the same message - week after week after week - all these years?

I do have some answers - as well as various questions - about what I'm about and what I'm preaching.


In a way I’ve thought about that “Have faith” question and answer a bit.

I thought about that moment  with Larry when I read the first possible gospel for this feast. [Cf. John 20:19-23]

It says, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” 

That hit me. However, I like the translation “hold on to” better than the word “retain” or “krateo” in Greek.

To forgive another's sins.... Now that’s quite a power - to be a priest and forgive sins in the name of God.

From time to time while hearing confessions, I’ve found myself saying - especially when giving absolution, “Wow this is quite a belief - that I am forgiving sins  - here in confession - because of sins that took place out there in homes, on the street  or at work.”

It’s a scary thought. In reality, I’m making that act of faith and absolving this person of their sins in a confessional.

That’s quite a belief.

Then I wonder, “Does this person confessing his or her sins believe?  Do they make an act of faith - that their sins are forgiven?"  

This is quite an act of faith by two people.

Pinch me!

Then it hits me: do we realize we all have the power to forgive sins - or to hold onto sins - out there at home, on the street, or at work.

I have learned that with or without the sacrament of penance and confessionals - people hold onto hurts or mistakes they have made or were made on them - all their life.

Or at some point they make peace with their mistakes or their hurts.

Come Holy Spirit - bring forgiveness into our homes and our hearts and minds.

Help this person coming to confession make this act of faith and accept forgiveness.

In other words, "Have faith!"


As human beings we need to make many acts of faith in life.

This is good water. This is good lettuce - I just read the label. These other drivers are decent drivers.  These school kids will not be shot today.

As human beings we have to make many acts of faith each day.

As priest I make many acts of faith.

For example, I stand here in this church - at that  altar right there [POINT] and at the moment of consecration I say, “Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body, which will be given up for you.” 

Then, “In a similar way, when supper is ended, he took the chalice and, once more giving thanks, he gave it to his disciples saying, ‘Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.’”

This is quite an act of faith we make at Mass - when we believe the bread and the wine become the body and blood of Christ.

I make that act of faith. You make that act of faith. Over a billion people in the world - who name and claim themselves as Catholics make that act of faith - those going to church and those not going to church. 

In fact, many of those who drop out of church - come back because this is what they are missing: the body and blood of Christ.

In fact, our Pope, Francis, and many others are wrestling with this question of intercommunion - as in couples who are married and one say is Lutheran and the other is Roman Catholic - both of whom have faith - why can’t they both receive Communion when they come to Mass together?

Faith - have faith - is a big question dealing with very big questions.

I think this evening of those 10 people who were shot and killed in Sante Fe - Holy Faith - Texas.  We hear people say they have gone home to God or they are with God - and they are with those who have gone before us.

Now that’s a great act of faith - this belief in life after death - because Christ has risen from the dead.

St. Paul makes that act of faith central to Christianity.  He says in 1st Corinthians 15 that if Christ did not rise from the dead, we’re all a bunch of fools. Our baptism means nothing.

Listen to Paul in 1 Corinthians 15: 17-19, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins."

Then Paul continues, "And what is more serious all who have died in Christ have perished."

More, "If our hope in Christ has been for this life only,  we are the most unfortunate of all people." 


Those of us who have faith in Jesus Christ - make tremendous acts of faith.

We believe in realities that people think we’re crazy for believing in.

We pray for more faith.

Come Holy Spirit.

Today, Pentecost, we’re praying for more faith - for more of the Spirit.

In the first reading for today, Acts 2: 1-11 - the disciples were hiding out in the upper room, scared and afraid, and a strong driving wind blew into that house and filled it - and tongues, splashes - as if they were of fire filled each of them - and they were filled with the Holy Spirit of God - and they went out into big crowds of people and spoke in the languages of everyone there - people from everywhere - Galileans from where they were from - Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Romans, people from Crete and Arabs. All heard all. All understood all.

Right now, this Pentecost - people around the world - in all kinds of languages are hearing today’s second reading  - 1 Corinthians 12: 3b-7, 12-13. It states that we cannot say, “’Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”

They are hearing we are one body - with many parts and many gifts - because we have all been given to drink of the one Spirit.


This homily has gotten too long, so let me wrap it up this way.

The title and theme of my homily for today is, “Have Faith.”

I’m saying that we have faith because of the Holy Spirit.

In the first book of the Bible we hear that God formed us from the mud and clay of the earth like a sculptor and then breathed his Spirit - RUAH - in Hebrew - into us.

When we let go of that Spirit, that Breath of God - we die during our life - and at the end of our life.

So every day - pray, "Come Holy Spirit".

So every day - when you pray, breathe in, breathe out, breathe out evil - bad spirits - and breathe in the fresh breath of God. Amen.