Saturday, February 7, 2015

February 7, 2015


Does everything we do - have to have a motive?

When I watch NCIS or other detective TV program,
it usually begins with a crime. Then the lead
detective arrives and they begin asking, “Motive?”

Don’t we detectives say the same thing every day, “Motive?”

“Why did she say that? “Why did he do that?”
“What’s going on here?” “Why did I do what I did?”

Motive? Motive? Why? Why? Motive? Motive?

Then - when - we start thinking, we find out,
behind that inner why, that inner cry, is the
simple answer, “Something was missing.”

When empty, we want to be filled.

Is that the most basic motive in life?

Something’s missing. I’m hungry.
I’m thirsty. I need. I need. I need.

So we fill ourselves, with food, drink, others,
fun, answers, stuff that stuffs us.

We try to control what we can’t control - so 
in anger or frustration - we snap - we hurt.

So we spend our days sending out
555 texts and 333 tweets – our attempts
to fill up our emptiness and loneliness –
because we’ve discovered we can't do it all.
We can’t be it all. The more is elsewhere.
The control is elsewhere. We scream.

Then comes the double whammy:
we find out that all this reaching out 
for more drains and strains us. We discover
that when our net is full – we’re dragging -
we break - we lose what we thought we had.

We find out there is the morning after,
the hangover, the headache, the heartache,
and then the triple whammy, we have
the deeper itch - angst and agita –
because of our dumb moves . 

Then, if we are lucky, we’ll confess what Augustine confessed in his Confessions: “Too late I loved you, 
O Beauty ever ancient, ever new! Too late 
I loved you! And, behold, you were within me,
and I out of myself, and there I searched for you.” 

Good News! We have finally learned what the Psalmist whispered, “Be still and know that I am God.” [Psalm 46:10] Being still, stepping back can
get us in touch with our motives - our desire
for God. Isn't God the real motive for life? Isn't 
God the Eternal Scream, the Eternal Whisper?

© Andy Costello, Reflections by the Bay, 2015

Friday, February 6, 2015



The title of my homily for this 4th Friday in Ordinary Time is, “The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation.”


My sister Mary told me a cute story. Her husband, Jerry, was a money counter along with 6 other retired guys at their parish church.

One Monday – after coming home from working on counting the collection money - he tells my sister the following. “Mary, you are not going to believe what the topic of conversation was amongst our guys this morning?” It was, “What kind of flashlight do you use for when you have to go to the bathroom all those times you get up during the night?"  


Great story.... It fits in perfectly with today’s psalm response which we said, 5 times at least: “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”

A light saves our footsies from being hit and banged when getting up to go to the bathroom during the night.

We need lights to manage our lives through the dark.

Christ is the light of the world. We need his light to navigate through life – especially when we are in the dark.


We can read today’s readings and find lights and insights on how to live life to the full.

Here are ten found in today’s 1st reading and today’s gospel.

The first light is hospitality. It's right there in today's first readings from Hebrews 13: 1-8.  Make  sure we practice hospitality. Hospitals heal. Hospitality means treating others sweetly. It’s doing the extra for others. Whoever we are, hospitality is the sprinkling of the extra on our guests – as well as making sure everyone has the  essentials to life. On a scale of 1 to 10, how am I as a host? Ten being the highest.

The second light is to treat prisoners well or those who feel that way – for example someone who has had a stroke or has to take care of a parent – or feels trapped in grand parenting as a baby sitter or is in a wheelchair. Listen – support - help – treat right those who are not being treated well.

The third light  - if you’re married, make your marriage and your marriage bed sacred – as sacred as the altar.

The fourth light – don’t let money blind you – or control your life.

The fifth light  - is being content.  It's not that easy, but if we learn contentment,  we’ll have an easier life – at home, in restaurants, stores, traffic and with weather, and health.

The sixth light is being with and seeing Christ in all this – in our lives.

The seventh light is stop bragging.

The eight light comes from today’s gospel: enough with the grudges that end up like a heavy back pack on our backs.

The ninth light – also from today’s gospel – don’t let young flesh – seduce our old eyes.

The tenth light learn to say, “I made a mistake. I can’t do what I promised.”


There they are 10 different lights to help you get through the dark.
February 6, 2015


I met a man – an old man – who said,
“Every morning – when I wake up,
I wiggle my toes – and if they wiggle,
I say to God, “Thank You God
for another day of life.”

He had a great smile on his face
when he told me this wonderful news.

I’ve been doing the same thing ever since.

Why do they close a person’s eyes
when they die? I’ve often wondered why?

Is it because down deep it’s an act of faith
that the inner eye or the so called, “Third Eye”
of the person who has died is now waking from
sleep – wiggling their inner being to a new day.

Do most of us spend most of our life sleep walking
and sleep talking and wiggling our toes without
knowing what we’re doing in the here and now.

We live and breathe and have our being in the
here and now. Wake up! Be born again in
the here and now – each day becoming
more and more ready for resurrection
and new life – in Christ and with all the people
who ever lived – without knowing we are one
with each other – and one with the universe
for ever and ever, Amen!

© Andy Costello. Reflections in the Bay, 2015

Thursday, February 5, 2015

February 5, 2015


We get them from time:
a “Save The Date” notice.
It’s usually an announcement
for an upcoming wedding.

The more we talk to people
the more we discover we all
have several dates we save –
saved joyfully with love and memory.

But then there are the dates we save -
sorrowfully with tears and stabs
in the heart, jabs of hurt and pain.
These are the dates on which 
we lost  a child or a spouse, 
a mom or a dad, brother or sister.
We can’t plan them, we can only 
endure them circled on the calendar, 
like a crucifix, on the wall of our mind.

© Andy Costello, Reflections on the Bay 2015

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

February 4, 2015


From the Dictionary: “Ion”, noun [Greek,
neuter of ion, present participle of  ienai to go]
(ca.1834) 1: an atom or group of atoms
that carries a positive or negative electronic
charge as a result of having lost or gained
one or more electrons  2: a free electron
or other charged subatomic particle”

There are always lots of ions in the air –
negative and positive ion’s. Check them out.
They are in and around us. They surround us –
and it would be wise to be aware of them.

Intuitions, affirmations, anticipations,
congratulations, occupations, actions,
negations, rejections, frustrations,
stagnation, alienation and dejections.

We are what surrounds us. We are what we breathe.
The atom doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

© Andy Costello, Reflections by the Bay 2015

Tuesday, February 3, 2015



The title of my homily for this 4th Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “God Is In The Details.”

We’ve all heard that comment as well as the proverb, “The devil is in the details.”

Is either one quote better than the other quote?


I thought of that when I read today’s gospel. Mark is the shortest Gospel – but he might be the best for the tiny details.

For example,  today’s gospel reading from Mark has Jesus saying, “Keep all this quiet” and then the additional detail: “And give her something to eat.”
I love that tiny detail from Mark 5: 43 about Jesus telling folks to make sure this 12 year old girl get some food. Mark doesn’t tell us how long she was sick – but Jesus had an idea. Now that was a key detail.

The same story in Matthew 9:18-26  and Luke 8: 40-48 do not have that detail.

Mark is also the earliest of the 4 gospels. Why does he put that detail about giving the girl something to eat and Matthew and Luke don’t.

I don’t know – only that I was taught that Mark is the detail guy. For example in the story of multiplication of the loaves to feed the crowd in Mark 6:39 – we find out that Jesus has the apostles have the folks  sit down on the ground in squares of hundreds and fifties. For example, Mark – but also Matthew and Luke – have the detail about the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law by Jesus – and she gets out of bed and waits on the boys.

I’m not a detail person so I don’t notice these things. I have to work on that.


So is it God or the devil who is in on the details?

For someone like me, make it the devil, because I mess up by laziness in not attending to the details. Or I don’t notice key details and as a result things don’t work right.

For those who are great at hospitality – make it God who is in the hard work of details. We could also add that love is in the details.

I’ve noticed that some waiters and waitresses know who wants just water,  who wants water with a slice of lemon, who wants water with ice.  

I like waitresses and waiters who know I like a lot of water and drink a lot of water and they are watching and waiting to serve the customer well.

I like that little detail in the gospel of Matthew 10:42 when Jesus says, “…whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple – truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

I’ve wondered how many people down through the last 2000 years got a cup of cold water – thanks be to Jesus for that little detail – especially cold water.  I’ve been suggesting getting that cold water font down the corridor here fixed for at least 4 years now. It used to have nice cold water like the 4 fonts at St. John Neumann. I keep hearing that it is not broken and it is cold water. I suggest that they take a sip of water from the fonts here and then try the fonts out there. Picky, picky, picky…. Details, details, details ….


God is in the details. Love and thinking of others is in the details. Jesus noticed someone touched him – in a big crowd – and a woman who had a blood problem for a dozen years – was healed – so too the young girl of a dozen years – was healed.

In the long run, I’d say love is in the details. Whenever I visit my godchild Patty and a few other friends - I luck out at times – because they offer me sugar free cookies. Nice.  So too when I was preaching on the road – I noticed it when the pastor would show me where the silverware was – along with extra toilet paper – along with how the remote works and what have you. Amen.
February 3, 2015


Lord, I need balance,
because I tend to veer off
to the right, when I insist
I am right, but I'm wrong, so
I end up flying right off the road.

© Andy Costello, Reflections by the Bay, 2015

Monday, February 2, 2015




The title of my homily is, “The Sword and The Candle.”

Today is the feast of the Presentation – when Jesus is brought to the temple in Jerusalem – and he is presented to the Lord.

The temple in Jerusalem is significant – in much of the Jewish Scriptures – which Christians call the Old Testament – and then in the Christian Scriptures – which we call the New Testament.  Later on in the gospels we’ll hear Jesus speaking – preaching – screaming out things in the temple. He’ll clear it out – yelling, “This is the House of God – but you have made it a den of thieves.”


In the temple Mary and Joseph run into an old man named Simeon.

He’ll tell Mary and Joseph that Jesus will be a source of Light – revelation for all people.

He’ll tell Mary a sword shall pierce her heart – translation “You’re going to suffer.”  Translation: “Your heart will be broken.”

As a result he says, People will learn much.

Which is the better teacher, the better source of revelation: Pain or Pleasure? Light or darkness?  The sword or the candle? A birth or a funeral? Baptism or the Sacrament of Anointing – especially when someone is dying?


You don’t have to be a professional artist or a good drawer to draw the picture of a sword or a candle.

First the sword…. Later on in Christian history – this text from Luke will name the number of swords – 7. This image – this story of Mary with the 7 swords goes back into our Christian history. 

A religious congregation from 1233 used this image big time – but we see it in Catholic imagery in both the Western and Eastern Churches – from the 1200’s and onwards.

Next the candle. If you look at a candelabra that sometimes appear on altars for benediction or veneration of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament – you’ll often see they have 7 candles.  

Similar candelabra – in early Jewish temples had 7 candles.  Menorahs – the candelabra we’re more familiar with have 9 candles – which are lit one day at a time for the 9 days of Hanukah. Christians have  the 4 candles in the Advent Wreath for the 4 Sundays and 4 weeks of Advent.

Suggestion ….  Homework …. Doodle …. Draw 7 swords – on a piece of paper – and on another piece of paper draw 7 candles – and then on the swords name 7 sorrows – swords – that pierced you – and then on that same piece of paper – jot down what those sorrows revealed to you.  Then label 7 lights – wonderful life experiences – and what you learned from them.

Share the exercise with spouse or family or very close friends.

We might learn that one particular sword is too painful to reveal to anyone.

Well at least we learned that about ourselves.


Then bring your drawings – your list -  to the temple  - to church – or to the temple of the Lord which is me.

Then say the Nunc Dimittis or what have you prayer. Or reread the last line in today’s gospel: “The child [add your name] grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.”         


February 2, 2015


She was the type of person
who was aware of every person,
and every conversation in the room.
I really shouldn’t say this, but
she was sort of like a dog that
you didn’t know was just sitting
there in the corner of the kitchen
ready to gobble up any crumb
that fell from the table. She was
like that - sort of - just sitting
there on the edge of the room, 
not missing anything or anyone.
She wasn’t malicious. She was just
the way some people are: librarians,
archivists - that type of person.
She could follow at least 4 conversations –
all at once. Come to think about her,
maybe she always wanted to be a librarian,
because it seems every word heard
is booked away on some shelf
behind those glasses and sometimes
when you are with her – but only when
alone with her - she would clue you in on
what’s really going on around here -
things you totally missed …. So you
better treat her nice. Give her a cookie
now and then  - and you better not say
the wrong thing or treat her like a dog.

© Andy Costello, Reflections by The Bay, 2015


The title of my homily for this Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time [Year B] is, “Voices: I Know Who You Are.”

Who knows our voice?  We answer the phone. The voice is familiar – but we ask, “Who is this?”

In time we get to know each other’s voice.

The title of my homily is, “Voices: I Know Who You Are?”


The two main characters in today’s gospel are the man who hears voices and Jesus Christ – who is the voice of God – and that Voice, that Word became flesh and lived among us.

The scene for today’s gospel is the synagogue in Capernaum – up there in the north – in a city just above the lake of Galilee.

Jesus walks into the synagogue in Capernaum.

It’s crowded.

The person who recognizes the presence of Jesus – is the man who hears voices – unclean spirits. He screams out convulsions and cries - the strange ranger. 

Whenever I hear this story, I often wonder if the gospel writer is telling us a story with a smile that went around the early church.

The joke might be that the person who knows who Jesus is, is the nut and not those who think they are the nuggets

Do I – who claim to be a normal church goer – recognize who Christ really is? Isn’t it funny that it’s often  the strange rangers – who hear God’s voice.

Yet, even people who don’t pray,  say things like, “Oh my God!” in scary moments – or “Jesus Christ” in panic mode?


The title of my homily is, “Voices: I Know Who You Are.”

I’m going to speak in this homily about three persons.  They are the three persons we need to know in this life: myself, others, and God.

1)   Do we know ourselves? Do we know our voices, our inner conversations? Do we listen to our sound tracks?  Can we say deep inside ourselves of ourselves, “I know who I am?”

2)   Do we know those we are with? Do we take the time to listen to them, to hear their voices - to know their voices – to know what makes them tick?

3)   Do we know our God? Do we hear God’s voice – God’s whispers? Or do we harden our hearts as we heard in today’s Psalm and Psalm Response?


We spend a whole lifetime getting to know ourselves. If we put a stethoscope or microphone on our chest or inner ear – or on our mind – we can hear our history – our questions – our worries – and joys – our sorrows – our glory – our light – our mysteries.

We spend our whole lives listening to ourselves.


Who am I?

What are my interests?

What am I thinking?

Hopefully as I grow, I know myself better and better.

How do I think?

How do I function?

Haven’t we heard someone say of themselves, “I haven’t found my voice yet”?

I’m sure lots of you have heard about Carl Jung’s way of understanding ourselves and others.

I’m sure lots of you have taken a test that gets at Jung’s way of typing people.

The Jung Test asks lots of questions to help people say if they are introverts or extraverts.  Which am I?  Do I get my energy by being alone and others drain me?  Or am I an extravert and I get my energy by being with others and being alone drains me?

Whether I’m an introvert or extravert, the Jung Test goes deeper.

It then asks in a series of questions how I function. Am I neat or am I sloppy?  Am I a dreamer or a doer? Am I artistic, a creator  - or a practical down to earth - hands-on worker?

In other words, for those two ways of functioning, the test is asking if I am an intuitive creative up in the air type – or  am I sensate type – very aware of time and my body and how my senses experience life.

Then there is the other functioning line: feeler vs. thinker? Emotional vs. Rational? See the person or see the issue?

Let me try to sum up the Jungian types.

First of all: we’re somewhat more introverted or extraverted.

Next, we have 4 ways of functioning: with our head and our heart, our hands or our hunches. One dominates – it’s opposite is our weakest skill. Then there is our next strength and it’s opposite is our second weakest skill.

That’s the Jungian Types. Many people are familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality types test. It helps us get at our gifts more than our sins.

Then there is the Enneagram that gets at our predominant center: head, heart or gut?  Each of those 3,  have 3 types.  That gives us 9 types. “Ennea”  is the Greek word for nine.

Richard Rohr and others think knowing these Enneagram types and areas and issues about ourselves, can give us more self-knowledge than the Jungian Types.

The Enneagram asks where am I coming from?

It asks what is my predominant sin: anger, pride, vanity, envy, greed, fear, sloth, lust, laziness?

I have found people are fascinated by any type of Personality Test – whether on a workshop for personal growth or in a Dentist Office Magazine.

We’ve all seen the TV commercial for Dos Equis Beer – which features a man who is described as The Most Interesting Man in the World.

To ourselves, each of us is the most interesting person in the world.

I say that based on all the energy we spend talking and thinking about ourselves inside our brain.

I like to quote the shortest poem in the world:



And I also love to quote the second shortest poem ever written. I wrote it. It also rhymes:


We also spend lots of time and energy thinking and talking to ourselves about others.

Who are you?

We are constantly asking that question of those whom we live with, love, work with, are married to?

Most of the time those voices stay inside our mind.

Sometimes those voices – those inner speeches – those questions – are negative.

Sometimes we hear put downs of us – from others – and we play those tapes for our lifetime.

A friend, a teacher, a co-worker  calls us a “Jerk” or “Selfish”  or “Self-Centered” and those words are scratched into the cement graffiti on the floor of our being – for life.

A parent screams at us, “You’ll never amount to anything.” Then we fulfill that prophecy.

A compliment can go a long way as well.

So what are our voices from others?

So we spend a lifetime asking not only ourselves who we are, but also who others are – as well as how they see us.

It’s best when we have relationships in which we can talk about our take on each other.

Check Google for Jungian  and Enneagram types. Then while reading the material, we’ll find ourselves saying, “That’s Chuck!” “That’s Catherine!”


Let’s get to God – finally.

However, I think we all need to go through these 3 voices – starting with ourselves – then to others – before we come to God. We need to go from the known to the unknown.

The strange man in the temple knew who Jesus was.

Do I?

How do I picture God?

How do I describe God?

Is my image of God, God?

Are my words about God, God?

If I say my dad or mom is as I describe them in words or images, am I right?

Is the person commenting on a television talk show  about another person, necessarily correct. For example someone is describing President Obama or Rush Limbaugh – in such and such a way. Are they correct? Are they on the money?

I hear all kinds of people telling me how another is and I too have a take on that person – and I say to myself: “Hello!”

I hear all kinds of people telling me about how God is and I say to myself, “That’s not my God?”

God can’t be nailed down by words.


God can’t be sculpted into a statue and then that statue is God?

The early commandments warn us about false gods. It’s idolatry.

I don’t know if I can put what I’m trying to say here into words.

Have you had this experience?

I’m trying to describe something that I have thought about. I try to put my thoughts into words. I’m an intuitive feeler type, so I’m often not that clear – especially to thinkers, analytical types. I talk in images better than in words. I know this about myself.

Lots of times in the back of church after a Mass someone says, “I have no clue what you were talking about in your homily. Too much poetry.”  Then the next person says, “Thank you for your sermon. Right on target.”

That’s happened to me all my preaching life.

Sometimes in a conversation the other says, “Let me see if I have what you’re saying correct?” 

Then they tell me what they thought I was saying and I say, “No, no, you have me all wrong.”

That’s me on someone talking about me about me?

What about  my take, my words on who President Obama or Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin or another priest or a neighbor is?

What about me on God?

Saying so and so is so and so – doesn’t make it so and so, so and so.

Things are easier to describe than people. 

If there is one cookie left in the box and I say, “There is one cookie in the box” I’m correct – but I didn’t make it so. It’s simply true.

All our lives – down deep – we’re trying to sculpt God with words.  All our lives we’re trying to put God into words - into a box.

I like the contrast between being kataphatic and apophatic.

In describing God some people use images to explain God. God is a Shepherd. God is a Father. God is a Mother. God is a King and on and on. That’s being kataphatic. It’s from a Greek word – KATA – meaning “TOWARDS” – and PHATIC – meaning “revealing - telling”.

Apophatic means “without images.” “APO” is the Greek preposition meaning “AWAY FROM” Different spiritual writers say they don’t want to use any image of God because God is God and he can’t be nailed down by some image. It might have some truth – but God is God and we’re always in the dark when it comes to God.


Here’s where I become very thankful for being a Christian.

I didn’t choose it – I was given the gift from my parents and Catholic school and the seminary – and a bunch of other people, places and factors.

Then at some point I choose to be a Christian – as an adult.


I am grateful for theologians who have gone before me – who tell me with their voices – their writings – their studies - what they are hearing about who God is.

I like the writing style of the Dutch Catechism of 1966 more than the writing style of Catechism of the Catholic Church  of 1992. That catechism doesn’t talk my language and the Dutch Catechism did. I assume it went on many a Bishop’s shelf – and gathered dust – or was tossed somewhere – as it was blackballed.

Some of the documents of the Second Vatican Council II – for example, Gaudium in Spes, The Church in the Modern World speaks in a language like I speak.  Then in the last 50 years we slipped back into Officialese Roman Catholic Document  Language. It’s my opinion that most Vatican Documents are written in a voice that’s not the voice I hear when I pray or am with God or with others.

I can relax about all this. It’s normal. People see differently from each other. Hopefully that leads to dialogue more than monologues.

I’ll add, if you get what I’m getting at here, that we speak in many tongues – it can help us to have an understanding what happened in the Early Church on Pentecost.

I don’t interpret Acts 2:5-13 – as many people do.

Many understand that text as people understanding all kinds of different languages: that of the Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Jews, Cretans and Arabs, etc. etc. etc.

I understand that text as people understanding the common language of handshakes, welcoming embraces, listening to each other, smiles and common body language – as well as interpreters and translators helping people explain who they are and what they are thinking and feeling to each other.

I’m not a literalist.

People, as I reported above, might not get what I’m saying – as I don’t get what they are saying  or I stop listening.  They  would call me wrong. When that happens,  I might remain silent or say to the other, “Hi. I think we see differenty. I might say, “I see that your arms are folded and your fists and your jaw seem very  tight. Has what I said turned you off?”

Hopefully all of us Christians know that Jesus walked into a synagogue one day and a man knew who he was: The Holy One of God.

That man experienced God in the flesh – human and divine.

The Word of God the Father became flesh and walked among us.

Christianity – Christians believe just that. Christians believe that God is a Trinity.  God the Father speaks a Word – “Son” – “Beloved Son” – for all eternity – and in time – in the fullness of time - with help from Mary – with her “Yes” – that word became flesh and lived amongst us -

Yet when it comes to us putting any of this into words  -  we have a lot of difficulty. We are not God.

Heresies happened and still happen.

Misunderstandings happen and still happen.


Back around 1990 – I was in the dark.

I was in a dark chapel in Ossining, New York.

It was around midnight.

The only light in the chapel was the red light near the tabernacle.

As Catholics know – that signals that consecrated bread, the Body of Christ, from a Mass, Communions that were left over – or there for sick calls – are in the tabernacle.

That red light is usually a lit white candle in a red glass. The tongue of light from the lit tip of that candle – is a tongue  that says what the man in today’s gospel said: “I know who you are – the Holy One of God.”

Okay, I’m babbling here. I’m being kataphatic. I’m using images.

That night I’m simply sitting in the dark – sitting in the corner.

The door opens. Someone walks in. The person walks up to the front of the chapel. I could see by the light from the candle that the person sat down on the floor – between the altar and the tabernacle.  I hear the person open up something. I figure it was a guitar case because the person tunes up their guitar. The person is a young woman – who was on the religious program I was attending. She sings a love song to Jesus.

I was nervous – still totally quiet in the corner.

I’m wondering: “Is this her night prayer every night?”

I was hearing her voice – beautiful.

She finished. I could hear her putting her guitar back into its case.

She sat there for about ten minutes – got up – and left.

What voices was she hearing?

That young woman has been sitting there in my inner sanctuary for all these years – still singing – still praying.

I keep hearing her voice.

I keep thinking – she is saying, “I know who you are: the Holy One of God.”

I make my act of faith in knowing who Jesus is from moments like that.

I’ve experienced Jesus – the Word made flesh living amongst us – in many a dark chapel – and many a light bearing moment – when I was in the dark.

I’ve heard lots – LOTS – of people tell me they experienced and know Jesus while visiting the sick in a hospital as an Eucharistic Minister.

I’ve had many people tell me that they’ve met Jesus in poor, the blind, the sick, the smelly, the hungry – while volunteering at a soup kitchen or our Light House here in Annapolis  – or in the great St. Vincent de Paul Society here at St. Mary’s and so many other places.

Many people after Matthew 25: 31-46 – have then heard  the voice of Jesus whom they experienced in the flesh – in the corridor – or in the need – when they visited the sick or the hungry or the thirsty or those in prison.

So too in the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37. I have met Jesus on many a road – or sitting next to me on a plane ride or a train ride – or a bus ride.

So too people have told me that they met and know Jesus in the Bread and in Communion with Christ in Church – or when they walked into the Gospel of John 6 – and met Jesus in the flesh like the man in today’s gospel.


Today’s gospel was a great memory grabber for me. In January 2000 I got to Israel. Our provincial was looking for someone to carry the bags of Leo – one of our priests. George, the Provincial, knew Leo and I knew each other when we worked together at our retreat house in Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania.

We left from JFK Airport.  We joined with about 25 other priests – for a retreat – pilgrimage - at some of Jesus’ places in Israel/Palestine.

Nothing hit when we landed in Tel Aviv. Nothing hit me on the road to Tiberius.  Everything hit me when we walked down to the lake of Tiberius/Galilee after supper that first night. I stood there and remembered a moment when my brother told me about his trip to Israle. He had told me that the Lake of Galilee was his best experience – thinking, “This had to be what Jesus saw – just like this.”

Me too. 

The next few days we went to Cana, the Mount of Transfiguration, the place of the Sermon on the Mount, the place of the feeding of the 5000. We saw Jerusalem and Jerico.

I remember a neat moment when we went out on the lake in 3 boats – supposed to be replicas of the kind of boat Jesus would have been. A storm came up on that lake and I thought. “Same experience Jesus!”

This trip to the Holy Land was a retreat – so after a Gospel reading from a moment Jesus was there, we’d have an hour or a half hour of quiet – and each time I’d listen to my questions, my voices, mainly to Jesus: “What were you thinking when you were here?

We went to the 4th century remains of the synagogue in Capernaum and Steven Doyle read today’s gospel and that was enough for me.  We sat on stone seats around the rectangular building – missing its ceiling.

“I know who you are, the holy one of God.”


In this homily I’m asking about how we recognize Jesus – and others – and our thoughts about Jesus and others – in the words and tone of voice our voice talks – and we listen.


This is a life task – recognizing God in our midst – and without God in our midst – we disappear when we start to disappear – and when those who know us stop remembering we were in their synagogue – in their brain – in their memories.

[This is a much longer and different version and wording of what I said at the 9 AM Sunday Morning Mass at St. John Neumann’s Church, Annapolis, Maryland. I didn’t write that sermon out – for a change of pace – but for the sake of this blog, I wrote the above. Thank you for listening to my voice, if you got this far.]