Saturday, August 29, 2015

August 29, 2015


Please, pretty please,
I want some ice cream -
and when with ease
you walk me into the store,
you let me choose my favorite:
two scoops of rum raisin.
You reach into your pocket,
take out your wallet and
pay for this wonderful treat! 

It’s then I say, “Thank you!”
By the way, in sum and substance,
I think that’s the story of my life.
I want it to be smooth as possible -
as smooth as rum raisin ice cream.
Please! Please! Please!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Oooooops, thank you Thornton Wilder.
After writing this today I remembered
his famous comment, "My advice to you
is not to enquire why or whither, but just
enjoy your ice cream while it's on your
plate - that's my advice." from The Skin of
Our Teeth [1942],  Act 1,

August 28, 2015


The desk he had was a mighty, big, massive
- strong solid oak one - and very expensive.
He thought he had finally arrived when it 
arrived. It filled his new corner office. 

He closed the door and his eyes as he sat there  - looking at himself - in all these inner "selfies" - he had taken of himself. He stretched his arms to the ceiling.  He hugged himself as he swung around and around in his big swivel chair.

He looked out the big clear glass window 
here on the 75th floor. He looked to the north and then to the east. He had a great smile 
on his face. He could feel the feel of bigness - big above all those tiny, tiny people down below. 

He had made it.

It took him one year - almost to the day - 
to realize that it was all an illusion -
struggling all these years to make it to
the top - only to learn at the big oak desk - 
that power wasn’t here. 

He got it when he got up and began to mix
with the others on the other side of that desk -
when he mingled with the minds and hearts 
of those down the corridor and those out
in the field. They did all the work and let him,
the boss, think he did. It took him even longer
to find out about his wife, parents and kids.

God stuff? 
Oh that kind of stuff was still way off -
in the distant  future.

© Andy Costello Reflections,, 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015

August 27, 2015


She didn’t like her body - shape or scape or shake.
She felt too fat - too ugly - too lumpy - too dumpy.
Too many comments, too many diets, too
many suggestions dumped on her from others
did that to her. She always wanted to escape.
What was eating her, to make her day - was
wanting a compliment or no comments from others.

She began to walk, walk, walk, to get in better
shape. She began to talk, talk, talk - new talk to
herself - and surprise the landscape of her body
began to take a new shape. Fresh air, sunshine,
the sound of crickets and birds were music.
Take a good look at her smile and began to see
the landscape of her being so much the better.

She felt her life was coming together as her
bodyscape began to fit in fine with the landscape
surrounding her. Sun, moon, stars, cats, dogs….
She found herself saying “Hi!” and “Hello!” to
everyone she met on the sidewalks - all folks,
all shapes, all sizes - her whole landscape became
a garden. In her new Genesis, she began hearing
God saying,  “All is good. Where are you? Can
I walk with you in the cool, cool of the evening?”

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

August 26, 2015


I was told by a gifted photographer
to take my pictures an hour after
sunrise or an hour before sunset.

That was when I was 33 - and ever
since then I’ve always noticed the
light when it came in from the side.

It’s that first comment or the comment
a person makes as they head out the
door that I hear - little else - sorry.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Today, August 25th, we Redemptorists celebrate the life of Blessed Dominick Trcka  (1886-1959).

He was a Redemptorist who served in many places in Eastern Europe as well as in the Ukraine. He worked in both the Latin and Byzantine rites.

He died on March 23, 1959 of pneumonia in the horrible Leopaldo prison in Czechoslovakia - now in Slovakia .

While in prison the Christmas before - he was heard  singing Christmas Carols. This got him put into solitary confinement - which was cold and damp - causing his death - along with all the other tortures he suffered.  

Pope John Paul II declared him blessed on November 4, 2001 - also having declared him a martyr earlier that year - April 24, 2001.

Leopoldov Prison, Slovakia

a riot in March 1990
five warders murdered in November 1991

The Leopoldov Prison used to be one of the closest prisons in the former Czechoslovakia. Criminals sentenced to longtime penalties and state criminals, sentenced in the 1950s, were doing time there. Dr. Gustáv Husák, the former President of Czechoslovakia, was kept under arrest there, too.
The prison was built as a fortress in the second half of the 17th century. It is a starshaped fortress with two gateways. The external walls are ten meters high and twenty-five meters wide. Each gateway was equiped with a drawbrigde. There was a small brewery and a cowshed there.
The very first riot breaks out on April 23rd, 1689. Some of the freelances make head against the deputy base commander. They occupy the gateways and want to take the deputy base commander. He draws the sword and pinks one of the freelancers. The others get frightened and fall back. The riot is suppressed by the Leopoldov commissioner, Jakub Mochmayer. The risen freelancers are caught and brought to justice. On June 19th, 1689, two ring leaders are sentenced to death, the rest of the rebels are chastised.

The gateway

The gateway
The fortress is changed into a prison in 1855. A kitchen, a laundry and a factory building are built there. The southern part is used as the prison, the northern part is used as the dormitory for the clarks and the warders. The architecturally unique building from the 17th century is under cover of the Relic Authority and stays unchanged till March 1990. The prison capacity is 2,500 prisoners. All of them are under the most strick prison rules (the 3rd reformative training).
On January 1st, 1990, Václav Havel, the newly elected President, proclaims the biggest amnesty in the history of Czechoslovakia. 23,260 out of 31,000 prisoners are released in several weeks. 652 prisoners are released from Leopoldov Prison. Dagmar Burešová, D. C. L., the newly established Minister of Justice, even wants to close down the prison...

The prison on fire (a picture from the Police videorecording)

The prison on fire
The riot breaks out on March 15th, 1990. 217 prisoners who are not concerned in the amnesty start their hunger strike and drive out the warders from the billeting area. Some other prisoners join them and they take possession of the kitchen and the magazine. The foodstuff there is worth 1,5 million CZK. They gain control of the whole prison, put up the barricade and start to arm with stabbing and cutting weapons made from engine plants which belog to TOS Trenčín and Liberec fabric combine. The engine plants remains are destroyed then. They make their own frangible grenades in case of defence. The grenades are filled with petrol and oil taken from the prison car fleet. They even make their own flamethrower. 150 prisoners who refused to participate in the plundering and destroying of the prison are take by hostage. The rebels refuse to negotiate and insist on discharge.

The frangible grenades - the prisoners' defence

The frangible grenades - the prisoners' defence
On March 28th, 1990, from 09:30 a. m. to 05:00 p. m., Andrej Sámel, D. C. L., the then Slovakian Undersecretary of Justice, and the prosecuting attorney are acredit to make the Leopoldov rebels give up. They give the President's and the government agents' effort to satisfy within the law all the rebels' demands. The rebels are warned if they do not obey the police calls to stop the riots, force will be applied. The rebels swear at them and start throwing the frangible grenades in response to their calls. They set some places on fire finally.
512 policemen from Trnava, 100 policemen from the Police Academy (Bratislava), 62 members of Specwar Team and 350 members of the Prison Guard are concerned in suppressing the riots. Three police helicopters, 12 vans, 23 pump water tender and 80 police dogs are used in the suppression. 200 aid men are ready in a prison hospital and three blood-transfusion units.

The most aggressive group of prisoners

The most aggressive group of prisoners
The most aggressive group of prisoners barricade on the roof of a prison building and set the entrance on fire. They store with flamethrower. Two hostage-prisoners are chosen to be burnt to death on the roof just to stop the police forces. Both of them are rescued from the roof under a dramatic circumstances by the police helicopter.
The rebels throw burning pallets and frangible grenades out of the windows at the policemen below. They throw some heavy objects from the roof. The rebels are equiped with sharp-edged iron rods, daggers, machetes, knuckledusters or just with knives or razor blades. The riots are suppressed after two hours and a half and all the rebels are put into alternate prisons. More than 200 murderers are among them...

The rebels give it up

The rebels give it up
A dead prisoner is found in one of the buildings after the fight. The autopsy proves that he died in explosion. "His home-made bomb" is thought to explode while being handled uncarefully. Twenty-nine rebels are injured. Eleven policemen suffered an injury too. One of them is wounded very badly. The damage to the buildings reaches 30 million CZK. The prison itself becomes completely unserviceable. There are eleven buildings. Five of them are burnt down. The factory buildings are destroyed completely. It was the largest riot in the history of Czechoslovakian prison service. Tibor Polgári is proved to be the ring leader and a self-proclaimed prison governor...
The politicians and "the democratic" journalists comment on the televised suppression spots. They complain both about "the police brutality" during the suppression and about the fact that the rebels were naked in those spots. The reason is simple: a naked prisoner cannot hide a weapon on his body… Although the foreign experts speak about a high quality and professionalism in dealing with the suppression, Col. Sámel, D. C. L., the officer in charge, is run off his job.

A prisoner being handcuffed

A prisoner being handcuffed
On January 24th, 1992, Bratislava district attorney charges 73 mutineers with 32 crimes. The trial starts on October 15th, 1992 and takes place in Leopoldov Prison, in a reconstructed cinema. 33 solicitors are present there. 290 witnesses are heard, including the then high state officers - Ján Langoš, Richard Sacher and Vladimír Mečiar. All of them visited the prison during the riots of their own will and are said to promise the prisoner to be discharged. On April 21st, 1993, Jozef Holič, D. C. L., the preciding judge of the Bratislava Regional Court pronounces the judgement: 345 years and 10 month for 61 mutineers. The trial took place for more than six months. A eighteen-months imprisonment is the minimum sentence, a 14.5-year imprisonment is the maximum sentence. Five of the accused are exempted from blame. There are 105 prison warders to insure the order during the trial. The legal charges worth 3.5 million CZK...

Tibor Polgári, the prisoner at the trial - "the prison governor" during the riot

Tibor Polgári, the prisoner at the trial -
Another shocking event happens in Leopoldov on November 23rd, 1991, short before 8 p. m. Seven prisoners decide to escape from the prison. They work out a plan and they fulfil it to a ribbon. Tibor Polgári (30), a prisoner and "a self-proclaimed prison governor", hits František Sloboda's head (a warder) and another prisoner, Miloš Uriga (22), stabs the warder's chest seven times by a "home-made" knife. They strip the dead warder off and Polgári goes into his uniform. Polgári, Uriga and five more prisoners attack and bind two warders and steal their uniforms and the grate keys. Plogári and Uriga break into the control room near the front-gate and stab the warders (Igor Jošt, Milan Galbavý, Marian Zenner and Milan Černý) to death. The oldest warder is fifty, the youngest one is twenty-two.

The murdered warder

The murdered warder
Tibor Polgári stabs to death three of them. Two warders survives just due to an early first aid. The intruders get possession of two machine guns and four pistols in the control room. Armed Polgári and Uriga return to the five co-prisoners guarding the bound warders. They take a warder by hostage and leave the prison. A knife jabbed in the head of a warder illustrates Polgári's extreme cruelty. The warders, according to the unexpired rule, had no gun on them while being attacked by the prisoners.
The fugitives use the guns to attack and rob the drivers of their cars. Several people are hurt. They even wound a driver who lends them a helping hand after their crashing into a tree with a stolen car. They want to escape to Poland and then to Australia. All the fugitives are captured in a wide police operation within twenty hours. Tibor Polgári is the only wounded - he is shot up when he tries to shoot at the policemen from the stolen machine gun. He calls it "a self-defence" at the trial...
The condemned involved in the escape:
  • Ondrej Harvan (30) sentenced to a twenty-three-year imprisonment for a murder and a dacoity,
  • Dalibor Bajger (20) sentenced to an eleven-year imprisonment for a murder,
  • Tibor Polgári (30) sentenced to a nine-year imprisonment for a dacoity and a blackmail,
  • Vladimír Duda (25) sentenced to an eight-year imprisonment for robberies,
  • Miloš Uriga (22) sentenced to a seven-year imprisonment for a robbery,
  • Bartolomej Botoš (26) sentenced to a ten-year imprisonment for violent crimes,

  • Vladislav Fedák (21) sentenced to a four-year imprisonment for robberies. 

    Tibor Polgári at the trial

    Tibor Polgári at the trial
    Ondrej Harvan, Tibor Polgári and Miloš Uriga are sentenced for murdering the warders to life imprisonment by the Regional Court in Bratislava on February 2nd, 1993. Vladimír Duda is about to spend thirteen more years in prison, Dalibor Bajger and Vladimír Fedák are sentenced to a fifteen-year imprisonment and Bartolomej Botoš is sentenced to an eighteen-year imprisonment. Ondrej Harvan commits a suicide two years later. Tibor Polgári has become a real hero to the Slovakian half-world.
    The cause of the Leopoldov riot and murdering five warders can be seen in amateurich decisions of the then ministers of justice and the then politicians attempt to "humanize" the prison service. By the way, in the USA, the prisoners starting their sentence sign a declaration warning them of a real danger of being shoot to death in case of a revolt or an escape attempt. The American statistics prove that hardly any fugitive survives their attempt to escape...

    (The photographs of the riot come from the Police videorecording)

    © Miloslav Jedlička, D. C. L.
    Translated by inspector WO Pavel Vršovský, M. A.
  • August 25, 2015

    A WORD

    On a page, in a dictionary,
    a word is sometimes so so ..., 
    so sometimes, I just don’t know
    about words. A word is usually 
    just a word - usually in black 
    letters on a white page. But
    when spoken - with gesture
    and sound - the way a word
    is said - makes all the differences.
    It can be written in blueberry jam
    or razor or barbed wire or a word
    can be like a knife that can cut 
    a ripe peach just right - or it can 
    stab a heart that is hurting. 
    So God our Father, is that why
    You spoke Jesus  into flesh, so he 
    can be in our mouth when we meet 
    and greet or non-greet each other?

    © Andy Costello, Reflections 2015




    The title of my homily for this 21st Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “Motive?”

    “Motive” with a question mark.



    There is a whole gaggle - a whole flock - of possible motives going on in the air - in any given situation.

    When we are watching or reading a mystery or a detective novel or TV show, the program often starts with a murder. NCIS has the formula down perfect. The opening scene is always a murder or killing - and hints are given if we catch them - who’s the bad guy - or gal - usually guy.

    In the back of our mind as well as the NCIS team is the question: motive.

    Get that, get the killer.

    What are the basic motives?  Revenge, money, fear, anger?

    What are the basic motives going on in life?

    How about: to impress, to protect, hunger, thirst, to be loved, to be understood?

    How about to be recognized, to prove to myself and those around me, I worthwhile, I’m worth something, I’m here, I’m smart, I’m not stupid?

    Then there are the twists in motives: to be bad and to prove it or to prove that my parents were right, that  I’ll never amount to nothing, I do nothing.


    Today’s Psalm Response is classic Biblical Psychology. “You have searched me and you know me, Lord.” From Psalm 139.

    O Lord, you have probed me and you know me; you know when I sit and when I stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. My journeys and my rest you scrutinize, with all my ways you are familiar.

    “You have searched me and you know me, Lord.”

    “Even, before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know the whole of it. Behind me and before, you hem me in and rest your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; too lofty for me to attain.”

    “You have searched me and you know me, Lord.”

    Yet - hopefully - we’ll calmly work with the Lord  - and walk with the Lord - when it comes to motives - and that we get to know ourselves - especially our urges to be a better self.

    At some point, hopefully,  we also move from judging others as a way to avoid walking and talking with ourselves. Jesus said that best when he talked about seeing specks in our sister or brother’s eye and miss the plank in our own eye.  

    I assume the plan is to walk with the Lord - when it comes to judging motives. Here’s where humility and humble prayer comes into our motives - and understandings - hopefully…. as we grow into goodness, niceness, greatness and grace.


    Today’s first reading from 1st Thessalonian from the year 50 or 51 - the earliest New Testament document - deals with Paul’s visit to two cities. [Cf. 2:1-8]

    Philippi gave him grief and rejection. They gave him bad mouth.

    Thessalonika gave him joy and acceptance. They gave him good mouth, good words.

    Save guy - different reactions.  I’m sure this has happened to us. We’ve been there - when it comes to how we are accepted or rejected by family members or co-workers,


    In today’s gospel from Matthew 23: 23-26 - Jesus goes after the Pharisees. Once more they are being picky, picky, picky - off on the tiny and not being aware of the big things we should be off on: mercy and fidelity.

    I assume the Pharisee inside us has the motive to look good - and keep the focus on the other guy - to make him or her look bad.

    Don’t we want to hide our bad. Don’t people dump everything in the closet or  the bedroom - when guests are coming. We clean the outside of the cup and dish - in hopes nobody looks inside where it’s dirty and where there are our disasters.

    Keeping up appearances is our program - whereas we should calmly investigate and do the forensics on our own  motives and pray for Jesus to help us to clean up our closets - basements - and inner rooms - so that charity and good news will come out of our mouths and being.


    As today’s first reading ends, let us pray to be determined to share with each other not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved we have become to each other.

    Monday, August 24, 2015



    The title of my homily for this feast of St. Bartholomew is, “Seeing Is Believing.”

    In today’s gospel from John 1: 45-51 we see the word see or saw 6 times.

    Seeing is a significant word for John - appearing 107 times - but the Gospel of John uses 5 different words for “to see”.

    It means knowing, believing…. It means physically seeing …. It means insight ….

    We had a priest in the seminary - Teddy Meehan - who said all the time, “Do you see?” He wanted us to see what he saw. Don’t we all? We nick-named him, “Do You See?”

    We counted how many times he’d ask that question in just one class. I remember one class he said it, 247 times.

    Do you see?

    In the gospel of John the key message is to see Jesus.

    The message is to follow Jesus.

    The message is that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus is the door, the gate, the Good Shepherd. Jesus is the Living Bread and Wine. Jesus is the light of the world. I am the resurrection and the life. I am the Son of God. The Father and I are one. I am life giving water.

    Do you see?


    Here in early part of John, the first chapter, we have 2 invitation scenes or situations.  Andrew discovers Jesus when someone says to him, “Come and see.”  Philip says in today’s gospel to Nathaniel, “Come and see.”

    Nathaniel like Andrew, like Peter, come and see Jesus - to see if he is the one.

    Jesus sees Nat and says, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.”  He’s not a divisive or a divided person. And Nathaniel is surprised and says, “How do you know me” and Jesus says, “Before Philip called you, I saw  you under the fig tree.”  Under the fig tree means - I saw you sitting there at your house. They think he comes from Cana and Cana like Nazareth, you’d know every person in the village by name.


    Sit in your home - at your house - here in this house - under this fig tree - which has figs, Christ, hanging from it. Sit under this cross - this eat this fruit, this wheat, these grapes, this break, this wine - and take an eat. This is my body…. this is my blood.

    Do you get that? Do you see that?

    In this gospel text - just the first chapter of John, we see Jesus as the Son of God as well as the Son of Man.

    In this gospel text - just the first chapter of John, we see Jesus as the ladder  - that we can ascend to heaven and connect with God the Father - and come back and connect with each other.


    When I read the gospel of John I get a quote from Teilhard de Chardin, “The whole of life can be found in the verb to see.”

    Do you see?


    I had a nice personal moment this morning at 8:30.

    I’m sitting there at the Kids Mass in the St. Mary’s Schoolyard. It’s very bright - as I’m looking out and seeing 700 or so kids - or more - so I close my eyes slightly to be more comfortable in the light.

    Surprise I see through my slightly opened and slightly closed eyes - grey light. I see what looks like one of those sonograms - showing what's going on in a mother’s womb - with a baby inside.

    What hits me next is that I am alive. This is life. I am alive from conception to birth to death - and I have been blessed with the wonderful world of in between. Christ is here in all this.

    I say a prayer of thanks for seeing the whole mystery of life as if I’m in the womb of the world. It’s all here - right in front of me - especially in all these elementary school kids who have their whole life in front of them.

    Then came the question: Do I see Jesus here? Then I hear the answer, “Come and see.”

    Then the prayer, “Thank you Jesus. Amen - Amen.”
    August 24, 2015


    After Mass, he stood there in the back of church
    as I was saying “Good bye! Have a great week!”
    and shaking hands to all those on their way out.
    Finally, it was just the two of us. He said, “Can I
    tell you something?” “Sure,” I said. So he said,
    “That was the worst sermon I ever heard.”
    Of course that would catch me off guard.
    Of course I said “Sorry.” Then I thought inwardly,
    “Bring back all those people who just went by
    and said, “Nice sermon, Father. Thanks for your
    words.” I also thought of the old saying, “You can
    get 20 compliments and 1 complaint. Guess what you’re going to remember?”  What he wanted, he said, was to have the preacher challenge us - get us angry - and then to go out and make a difference. I said, “That’s not me! 
    I like to be liked. I don’t want people to spot me but to spot themselves - look into themselves - and see where they are being called.” It didn’t make any difference. I wasn’t his cup of tea. 
    Like the people in the gospel we had for yesterday, he walked away. Like Jesus 
    I needed to tell someone about what happened to me. This morning I woke up still thinking 
    about the moment - so I assume his comments were  wrestling inside me all night - and I said
    to myself, “Wait a minute. Contradiction guy!
    My sermon did stir you up - enough for you to
    come up to me with some angry words. I guess
    I did challenge you. I got you to talk to me.”

    © Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

    Picture on top: Here I am falling
    on my butt - while skating on
    our pond in our Minor Seminary,
    St. Mary's North East, Pa, in the
    early 1950;s

    Sunday, August 23, 2015



    The title of my homily for this 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time [B] is, “Submission.”

    The topic was triggered especially by today’s second reading from the Letter to the Ephesians. It has the “hot button word,” “subordinate” - as in, “Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.”

    Some people hear that and don’t go any further.

    Evidently the text has been used in arguments about who’s right, who’s wrong, who has to do what, sexuality, control, power in marriage - and in a family.

    The original text comes down to us from the Greek. Obviously, we hear in English Language Masses the English translation.

    I would translate the Greek verb, “HUPEIKO” with the English word, “submit” - but our translators chose “subordinate”.

    I’ll submit to that. I’m subordinate to the Church authorities - above me.

    With a semi-smile on my face, I would think “subordinate” is softer than “submit”  - so I wonder if the translators chose “subordinate” - to be a bit more PC correct - which is another “hot button phrase” - so as not to be trumped or jumped on for being insensitive to women.

    In spite of that, I would think people would understand the meaning of the word “submit” more than they would “subordinate”.

    EPHESIANS 5:21-32

    So for some, today’s second reading is a “hot button Bible text.” They sense  it’s telling wives that they are not equal partners in a marriage. “Be  subordinate to your husband” - then it adds “as to the Lord.” God is God. Our husband is certainly not God.

    It’s a real topic to think about - because when talking to couples - I often hear men say that the two most important words in marriage are, “Yes dear!” I would think the more important two words would be, “Let’s talk!” - “Let’s listen.” - and  “Love you!” and “Wow - thanks!”

    I know of a woman - in another state - who calls the rectory when this text is coming up. Her question to a priest is, “Are you going to read that text this Sunday?”

    Probably not that clear what’s this all about,  he might say, “Well, we’ll use the cut down version.”

    Or we might have a stale mate.  Smile.

    It’s my sense that this battle is on the other side of the glass ceiling and people have come to terms with the issues involved in their own way. I also sense we’ll get to where we’re going to get in time - women’s ordination, etc. etc. etc. I would always hope our church will say these 2 word sentences, “Let’s talk.” “Let’s listen.”

    [We congratulate first time servers here at St. Mary’s - so I did that to a young girl server one Sunday and added to be cute, “Maybe someday you’ll be pope.” In another situation I might say to a young girl, “Someday you might be president”. Well I got a phone call complaining about I’m for women’s ordination. I assume that will come - long after I’m dead - but I’m not going to say that from the pulpit - otherwise that’s all some people will hear and it will kill my homily further.]


    Years ago I attended a one week seminar on scripture and one of the speakers was Bruce Malina of Creighton University.

    The issue of woman’s place, rights, respect, recognition in the church came up. 

    Looking back, thinking back,  I believe Bruce Malina said something like this:  My field is the first century Mediterranean basin.  Woman’s place was in the back room and in the kitchen. Men’s place was outside - smoking and talking - with their tools leaning against the side of their homes.

    Next he said you can want different, but this is the way it was in the world of the First Century New Testament.

    Then he showed us an old documentary - a black and white movie - of a small out of the way Greek island from around the early 1930’s. Sure enough the men were out front - and the women were in the back rooms and in the kitchen.

    If you want to read a good book on all this from a culture different than here in Annapolis read The Bookseller of  Kabul. It was written by the Norwegian journalist Asne Seiersgtad. She got imbedded into the home of bookseller in Kabul, Afghanistan - and her book helped me understand a lot more about a woman’s place in other cultures.


    The title of my homily is, “Submission.”

    Now that’s a topic worth thinking about - worth reflecting upon.


    That’s a skill we all need.

    One of our biggest problems in life is our inability to submit.

    I know I was always last minute in finishing and submitting a term paper.

    I am still the same in finishing homilies - like this one that I submit to you today.

    Submission - if you come to Mass you have to submit to the person in the pulpit and the altar that you get. If you don’t want to, you can read the bulletin or your own inner tapes.

    Submission - how good are you with that one?

    I know some people can’t submit to traffic jams.

    I know some people can’t submit to wrinkles and aging.

    I know some people can’t submit to life.  It happens.

    How about cancer, death, rejection?

    How about reality?  The ice cream cone - even two scoops of butter almond - melts and drips - and disappears into our bodies as we eat it - or onto our t-shirt or the sidewalk.

    Everything comes to an end. Kids go off to college.

    Summer ends. School starts again.

    The clock keeps ticking. Morning arrives and we got to get up to go to work.

    Horror happens - divorces happen - people cut us off in getting out of the church parking lot - people cut us off in the middle of the story we’re telling. People yawn.  Some people are not polite and tell us, “You’ve told that joke ten times now. Hello!”


    Of course, sometimes we have to resist - protest -  yell - change - make moves - talk to each other. “Do you know a good lawyer?”

    So there are some things we should not submit to: abuse, violence, craziness.

    Some people vent inwardly or outwardly behind the other person’s back.

    Some people call the police.

    Some people write to the newspaper or the bishop or the pastor.


    Maybe I should have concentrated on today’s other two readings.

    I picture Joshua’s in today’s reading - nearing his end - old age happens - and folks are dropping out - or giving up their religious heritage and faith - - bummer - and all he can say is, “Well, as to me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

    I picture Jesus in today’s gospel - standing there and seeing all these people walking away - telling him they can’t accept what he’s saying.

    We who have seen family members dropping out of our faith - know the feeling.  And the numbers are increasing.

    Jesus  submitted to all  that - but says to Peter, “Do you also want to leave?”

    Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”


    The topic of submission calls for deep consideration.

    The choice is ours.

    This issue of submission or subordination calls for communication - talking and listening. Husbands and wives submit to talking to each other.

    Ooops in case nobody got what I was talking about - let me tell you what might have also triggered this topic for me.

    On Friday evening we had a wedding rehearsal for a wedding for Saturday afternoon. A little boy was to be the ring boy for the wedding. On Friday night he sees this big aisle and breaks free of this little girl, older and taller than he. He runs full speed ahead to the front here, turns right and then shoots down the side aisle, across the back, and down the aisle again. His mother can’t catch him - and they kid looks like he’s only been doing 3 months of walking.

    Then he spots the steps up front here and he goes right at them - crawling up the 3 steps - conquering them - and his mom and dad catch him at that and he goes back up there a few times.

    It was a great scene. I loved it.  Of course his parents were scared he might have done it yesterday in his tux.  He didn’t. He was perfect.

    But that kid needs to learn all about submission and subordination and his parents need to learn how to do that.

    If you get that, you got my sermon. Amen.


    Painting on top: American Gothic, Grant Wood, 1930