Sunday, June 24, 2018



The title of my homily is, “What Will This Child Be?”

It’s a question asked right there in today’s gospel about  this new born baby who was named, “John.”

It was a surprise name. The neighbors and the relatives said when they heard that he would be called, “John”, "There is no one among your relatives who has this name."

Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband,  said, “His name is John.”

Today’s feast of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist can trigger lots of key life points.


Well, actually an earlier question is, “Boy or Girl?”

Then the name - what to name the child - is asked?

Question for all of us: Am I happy with my name?

Further question: Why did I get the name I got? 

I just found out about two months ago from my sister, Mary, that my name was to be John - but then my dad switched to Andrew - almost at the last minute. For starters, it was probably because I was born on the feast day of St. Andrew Avellino - an Italian saint.

Then he was dropped off the Church calendar and replaced with Leo.

I am glad I got Andrew - because of my middle name: Jackson. I was named after a saint and a president.

I was told by an uncle in my mid thirties - after my father had died -  the possible reason for my dad’s choice of Andrew Jackson.  In Ireland, in pushing young men to think about becoming a priest and then going to the United States as a missionary from Ireland, priests would say from the pulpit, if there were more Catholic priests in the United States in the south, the president of the United States, Andrew Jackson, of Scotch Irish roots might have been Catholic. Then they would add:  “Many Irish Catholics switched to different Protestant groups because of the lack of priests and churches.”

Nice history.  How about you? Where did you get your name? Why? Is there any history in your middle name? History. History. History.

I never got to name a child, but if I did, I would try to give a kid history. I would also want the name to sound great - that it has a ring to it - in case he or she ran for president some day. And above all, I would not give a kid a name that for the rest of the kid’s life, he or she would be asked, “How do you spell that?” Or it will be mis-spelled every time.

I have 4 baptisms this afternoon. I didn’t look at their names. And I would never make comments about a name.  I’ve heard enough stories about priests way back  when -  who refused a name because it wasn’t a saint’s name.

But I do like to ask in the beginning of the ceremony the why of a name.

NCIS the other night gave the story about how one of McGee’s twins got her name, Morgan.  It sounded neat: Morgan McGee. She was named after the cop down in waiting room who was shot and killed helping McGee.


The title of my homily is, “What Will This Child Be?”

I began by saying that question is right there in today’s gospel.

It’s also a question people at a birth and a baptism wonder about.

It’s the stuff of made up stories about great people that someone said at their birth or baptism, “This child will be a saint or great hero.”

This is a life time question - we all ask of kids growing up: “What are you going to be when you grow up?”

Friday afternoon and then again Friday evening I got sick calls to visit people who were dying. I stood there with a family and with a wife and mom who was dying. Both were in hospice.

I anointed both of them. One was almost 72 and the other lady was 85.

I asked and wondered about the questions we ask about babies and the beginning of life. What are the questions we ask at the other end of life?

Did you enjoy your life? Did you do all the things you wanted to do?

John the Baptist became a prophet and the one who announced Jesus in our midst.

John the Baptist - in his early 30’s - was beheaded for proclaiming Jesus - and for proclaiming what was right and what was wrong.

Today’s first reading from Isaiah was picked because John the Baptist was a sharp sword and a polished arrow.

Yep that was John: direct and to the point.

I have met people who are just that: direct and to the point.

Of course we need that type person - if ever our country needed that type person, it’s right now.

How are you doing with your biggest hope and dream for your life?

Put yourself at the beginning of your life and at the end of your life - and name your main dream - your major hope - what you wanted your life to be.

I think this is an excellent “take away” from today’s feast.

James Barrie described life as, “A long lesson in humility.”

James Barrie also wrote, “The life of everyone is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another, and his humblest  hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.”


So the first chapter and the last chapter of our life is important to read - the urge of this homily.

To look at birth and to look at death: very important.

But let me pick another moment - I assume nobody is having a baby at Mass here this morning and I assume nobody is dying. I don’t hear 911 at the door.

So what about all those moments in between - called our life -  called the dash between the two numbers on our tombstone.

I found this other moment mentioned in a quote from the Spanish writer, Jorge Borges. He said, “Any life … is made up of a single moment - the moment in which a man finds out … who he is.”

I’ve had that moment from time to time - sometimes in a mistake - sometimes in a question mark - for example  I once was giving a few talks in Washington D.C. once to about 150 DRE’s - Directors of Religious Education from all over the country  - and at the first coffee break - a woman came up to me and asked, “Do you know what you’re doing?” I became silent for about 10 seconds and looked this lady in the eye and said, “Yes.”  I had to think for a moment. And sometimes that moment and is a glorious moment - like being  half asleep - being a priest - driving fast to the ER at  Anne Arundel Medical Center - at 2 AM - or standing here in this pulpit a few years back preaching at my 50th anniversary Mass.

Yes it’s taken a lot of life - but I know who I am - and I thank God for that. Amen. How about  you?

June 24, 2018


June 24, 2018 

Thought for today: 

“My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.” 


Saturday, June 23, 2018


June 23, 2018


Stories trigger stories.
Memories match memories.
Conversations - story telling,
like sparks from a fire jump up
out of your minds and our mouths -
when we take the time to listen
to each other.  Unfortunately,
iPhones and television and
movies have destroyed the
most basic educational system
we humans have come up with:
story telling.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2018

June 23, 2018

Thought for today: 

“Arguing with a fool  shows  there are two.” 


Friday, June 22, 2018


It could actually be one’s deepest desire.

It’s this wanting what I deeply want.

It’s this wanting when I want it.

It's to be in control.

If you ask, I might actually say what I want.

At restaurants, at work, in the family ….

Who gives the orders around here? Make it me!

My will be done, on earth and in heaven…..

Oh, now I know why Christ got nailed to the cross.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2018