Saturday, October 3, 2015

October 3, 2015


There’s an old Irish proverb
that says, “All sins cast long
shadows.” Whoever said that
knew how mistakes, betrayals,
saying the wrong thing about
one’s sister or brother leaves
an itch or a twitch when a
reminder pops up or appears
on our radar screen. What does
it take for us to open up to Jesus’ 
forgiveness and mercy when he 
knocks on our door and for us to
discover, “All is forgiven seventy
times seven times seven times”?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Friday, October 2, 2015



The title of my homily for this October 2nd, Feast of the Guardian Angels is, “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

It’s the title of the wonderful 1946 movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.

It’s on TV every Christmas for at least the last 50 years. And I've often heard high school kids like you say, "I love that movie! It's part of Christmas in our house every Christmas."

It’s a wonderful life.

It's listed as one of the top 100 movies of all time. I've seen it listed as #11.

Hopefully every one of us says at least once a month, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone of us went home today and said to our parents, “It’s a Wonderful Life!”  and then added, “Thank you.”

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone of us said to one of our teachers, “It’s a wonderful life. Thank you for  being part of it.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every one of us said before we went to bed every night, “It was a wonderful day God. Thank you.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone of us said every morning as we woke up, “It’s another day God, wonderful, thank you.”

As you know - the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life” is on TV every Christmas season - at least 10 times. It’s the story of a very generous guy named George Bailey - who works in Bailey Brothers Building and Loan. George helps all kinds of people and is loved by the whole town - except for Mr. Potter.

In every story there always seems to be an antagonist - someone who goes against the protagonist - the good gal or guy.

George’s Uncle Billy brings $8,000 to the bank to deposit it. He’s distracted - thinks he deposits it - but doesn’t. Leaves the money there in the bank and Mr. Potter the bad guy finds it - but hides it - and George is in trouble.

That’s the movie. George realizes when he can’t come up with the money and people in town will go down - so he wants to commit suicide. He wishes he never existed.


In the meanwhile an angel appears.

Angels don't have bodies - yet we picture them - with robes and wings and angelic smiles.

Angels are messengers.  You might have heard about a question philosophers used to ask in the middle ages, "How many angels can sit on the head of a pin?"

If angels are messengers - we can say that there are millions and millions and millions of messages flying around us right here, right now in this church. Cell phone messages, iPhone messages, radio messages, millions and millions of messages are flying around our pin heads all day long - and we can hear some of them if we have a receiver.

Some messages - hopefully most messages are angelic, wonderful, encouraging, but there are also demonic, gossipy, evil, ugly messages as well.

I'm sure you've heard in religion class there are good angels and bad devils. They fly around whispering messages into our consciousness.

Listen to the good voices. Chose good choices.  

Today is the feast of our Guardian Angel or Guarding Messenger. 

I would like to describe our Guardian Angel as the whisper, the voice, to see life as wonderful and make it wonderful for those around us. 

In the movie, It's a Wonderful Life, it’s Clarence - an angel - who is sent to save George - and he does - showing George all that would have happened if didn’t exist.

Without ruining the movie any further -  but I will ruin it at the end of this homily. I take that back, you can't ruin this movie. Well George discovers he is loved - that he is necessary and that “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

It’s a wonderful life.


I like to use the image of the barometer. It tells us the weather - what’s going on in the atmosphere.

I like to ask folks to come up with a barometer for their marriage, for their job, for their life.

I think the statement, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a great barometer.

Kids like to write words on their hands. It could be the name of the person they love or an answer for a test.

I think the statement, “It’s a wonderful life.” It should be written on our hand and if someone asks us the secret of life, cheat, and read the answer on our hand and say, “It’s a wonderful life.”

Clarence taught George Bailey that message.

There are people out there who say every other day, “It’s a horrible life.”

I was reading the papers this morning to see if they have come up with the motive of this guy who killed those folks in Oregon at a community college. I’m willing to bet that he walked around thinking, “It’s a horrible life.”


I would like to say that the call of life is to be wonderful and how do you do that?  Answer: make life wonderful for those around us.

How do you become wonderful: each day see all the wonders that surround us.

When someone sees us, do they say, “I want to sit with that person at lunch.”  “I want to be next to that person at a game.”

I want people who come to my funeral to say, “Andy was a wonderful person - a wonderful priest.”

I hope every teacher here has that as their goal, “I want to be a wonderful teacher.”

Does any teacher want to be a loser - a disaster? Of course not.

Well, to a wonderful teacher, student, person, priest, principal, you have to do what Jesus kept stressing: be welcoming, understanding, serving, giving, forgiving, caring to and for others.


I did a funeral yesterday of a wonderful guy. His funeral ceremony - and the eulogies - spelled and yelled that out loud and clear.

About a month ago his wife asked me to go see him with her in a nursing home. He was basically shut down - from a rare form of Parkinson’s disease.

On the way to the nursing home, I asked how they met. I love that question. Well, his wife told me that she was on a date with this other guy and she spotted Jerry.

She said to herself, “What a wonderful guy!” and she asked him if he could go on a date with her. Being a wonderful guy he asked the former boyfriend if he could. The guy said, “Yes.”

In the drive to and from the nursing home she told how wonderful a husband he was for 50 years this year. She told me that he did great things in his life in the Aerospace Industry - developing materials for going deep out into space and coming back home. She told me how much she wanted to see him at the nursing home as much as possible - because she loved him so much. 

No she didn't sing the song, "Wonderful Guy" but those were her sentiments.


A barometer of a wonderful person is to be a person that others want  - in their life - at their table - in their conversations - on their teams.

Remember the movie, My Cousin Vinny. Vinny is a disaster as a lawyer for his nephew. He falls asleep in the courtroom. He can’t figure out what to do. But surprise, he comes around and becomes so great, that his nephew’s friend dumps his lawyer and says pointing to Vinny in the court room, “I want him.”

Be so wonderful that people say of us, “I want him.”

Who doesn't want to be with wonderful people?

October 2, 2015


God, sometimes I can see how folks
mixed you up with creation: a storm
from the north causing scare, a mist arising
from the morning earth - a hint of mystery, 
a fire burning - burning down a whole forest -
and we realize - all is out of our control,
the ocean pounding the shore with wave
after wave - then calming down and
lapping the beach with tiny two inch waves -
then moving out to sea - and we scratch
our scalp and say this is all too much for me -
the sun, the moon and the stars - night and
day - mountains, clouds, seasons, change
after change after change, and I’m just
little old me. God, God, God, when I try
to be one with you on a gray rainy day
or an Arizona desert sand, desert tan,
blue cloudless sky day - you seem to hide
from me and it’s then I know I’m still so far
from you and I have a long, long way to go.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Thursday, October 1, 2015

October 1, 2015


He had stopped going to Church - too - 
too many years ago. But… then came 
this moment when Hail Mary full of grace 
moved him - at the hour of her death.
Amen. He saw his mom’s bone white
knuckles - like rosary beads - moving
in her hand. He was studying her face - 
her breathing - along with her dark green Connemara marble rosary beads. 
Her lips moved in prayer. All this 
moved him back to the faith.
What he didn’t know - as he sat there -
in her chair - next to her death bed -
was that she was still praying for him
for all these years to come back home.

 Andy Costello Reflections, 2015

It seems to work when we spell out specific days, weeks, months or years with a specific theme.

Like Pope Francis is stressing that the next Church year: Advent to Advent, 2015 to 2016 is a Year of Mercy. It’s the year to mend relationships - forgive anyone who hurt us - and to accept forgiveness for any mistakes we have made - from abortions to be a zealot and driving everyone around us crazy.

So October is a month every Church year to use our rosary beads.  

Say the regular rosary - 5 decades of 10 Hail Mary’s etc. etc. etc.

Then I like to stress options. I do this because instead of an all or nothing approach to the rosary or life - try “small beads” or “worry beads” or the KISS [Keep it simple, stupid] principle.

Translation: if you can’t say a whole rosary, use your beads to say just one decade of 10 Hail Mary’s.

Translation: if you don’t want to say a whole rosary, and you don’t want to use Hail Mary’s, use your rosary as worry beads - and just thumb or use two fingers to gently squeeze the 59 beads to say to the Lord just a word or two or three. 

I like to say, “Rosary beads are not just for Hail Mary’s all the time.”

You'll hear that mantra in my sermons and blog pieces from time to time.

I would love it if everyone resurrected their rosary, kept it in their pocket or pocketbook, and took it out from time to time to pray for 3 to 5 minutes.

Then someone might spot us and ask, “What are you doing?” and we say, “Just saying a prayer.”

What a way to be a spirituality promoter - a gospel [Good News] promoter and you explain if another asks, “Oh I use my rosary as a way to remind myself to pray - to say ‘Thanks to God’ or ‘All is grace!’”

Or we could say, “For example, I use these 59 beads to pray, ‘Help!’ or ‘Thanks!’  or ‘I love you my God.’ or  ‘Help me to forgive ___.’  and it only takes 3 minutes.”

You can add, “Folks take coffee breaks - I take prayer breaks.”

Or you just hold your rosary beads  in hand as a way of telling yourself you're entering your inner room of prayer. Moslems have their prayer rug to do just that. Protestant and Catholics use their Bible to do just that. Catholics use their rosary beads to do just that. Check out Matthew 6: 5-6 on all this.

I have on my blog two e-Books of short meditations on the 20 mysteries of the rosary.

The first is from back on October 26, 2007 and is entitled, “How To Use The Rosary to Make Christ Connections to Our Life.”

The second is from back on May 30th, 2008 and is entitled, “How to Make the Rosary Make More Sense - Moving Through the Mysteries and Moments of Life We All Go Through.”

[You can type this 2008 title into Google and add my name “Andy Costello” - after that long title and subtitle - and you can catch it on Google - without the trouble of scrolling back to 2008 or 2007.

October is the Month of the Holy Rosary.

If you pray, as the Pope kept saying, “Say a prayer for me.”

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September 30, 2015


Somewhere, some time ago, I noticed
that marriage and relationships, have
all kinds of tiny unnoticed moments -
ripping, yes ripping, a piece of bread
off the other’s dinner roll - buttering it
with the butter of the other’s plate and
knife - so too a shoulder touch when 
going by the other - so too an eye touch -
a glance not to say that again or,
“Let’s get out of here!” - like now.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


The title of my homily for this Mass for you in the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades is, “Definition of Mercy: Give Me a Break”

Can you all repeat after me the following: “Mercy: Give Me a Break.”

When I raise my hand like this [Gesture] could you say, “Mercy: Give Me a Break.”

A kid is clumsy and he keeps on tripping over his own feet and everyone makes fun of him and he says, [Gesture] “Mercy: Give Me a Break.”

A teenage sister gets braces for her teeth and her younger brother keeps kidding her on how funny she looks and she says, [Gesture] “Mercy: Give Me a Break.”

A kid is too short, too tall, too fat or too skinny and other kids make fun of  their shape or size, so the kid says, [Gesture] “Mercy: Give Me a Break.”

A kid misses a tap in volleyball and all the way home in the SUV the other kids are needling her for her miss that lost the game and she says, [Gesture] “Mercy: Give Me a Break.”

A kid forgets her homework - it’s on her desk at home - and the teacher is on her case and the kids says, [Gesture] “Mercy: Give Me a Break.”

A teacher is having a bad day. Her dog is sick. Her cat is sick. Her husband just lost his job. And last night it rained and knocked a tree over in their driveway and the kids in her class are noisy and bothersome, so she says, [Gesture] “Mercy: Give Me a Break.”

So that’s my definition and description of what mercy means.

It means giving someone a break.

Pope Francis was working hard every day he was here in the United States and Cuba and never once did he say, [Gesture] “Mercy: Give Me a Break.”

The gospel you picked for this Mass is from Matthew 25: 31: 46. It listed a whole lot of people who wanted a break. The hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the person without clothes, the sick, those in jail -  all those people were saying to anyone who could help them, [Gesture] “Mercy: Give Me a Break.”

Last week when the pope was here he went to see some people who were in prison and people who were poor and people in a soup kitchen - all kinds of people who were saying, [Gesture] “Mercy: Give Me a Break.”

And based on what I was seeing on television he kept going, and going, and going like the Energizer Bunny. Along the streets when he was in his popemobile, he got out and people were handing him babies and little children from the back of the line so he could bless them and kiss them. I’m sure the guards were thinking that the pope would love to say, [Gesture] “Mercy: Give Me a Break.”  

But he didn’t.

And that’s the message this pope hopes all of us will put into practice for this year that's coming up  - that all of us give each other a break - that we show mercy to each other.

Did you know that Jesus was not fair? Did you know that God is not fair?

God likes to make mercy be much more important than justice.

Jesus told a story about two brothers. One was perfect. He was the older brother. The younger brother wasn’t. He left home and went far away and ended up a total disaster. He hit bottom. I noticed that Pope Francis told this story of the Prodigal Son the other day and everybody clapped for the Father of those two boys. Well the younger son decided to come home. When his dad saw him coming home over the hill, the father ran and hugged him - even though he needed a shower big time. 

Isn't that a great story about mercy?

His father yelled, “Quick get my son some new clothes, new sandals, clean him up and lets have a big dinner to celebrate his return. The younger son didn’t ask for all this - but he got all this mercy. His father was giving him a break. 

Now, when the older brother who was out working on their farm, heard music and dancing he was wondering what was up. Someone told him that his brother is back. Well, the older brother became angry and furious. 

His dad tried to get him to show mercy to his brother. He said to his dad, "You never did anything so nice for me."

So he wouldn’t go into the house and welcome his brother home. So his father kept saying to him,  [Gesture] “Mercy: Give Me a Break.”

Jesus was off on mercy. That’s where Pope Francis gets his messages.

Jesus once told a story about a man who had a big vineyard.  That’s where they grow grapes. It was time to start picking - so he went down to the marketplace to get some people who would be willing to pick grapes for him. He said he’d give them a daily wage.  They went and he needed more pickers so he went back down at noon and again at three o’clock and again at the last hour. When it got to six and it was time to pay the workers he gave everyone the same amount - a whole day’s pay.

Well, when those who worked the whole day saw that those who only worked an hour or two or three got what they got, they got really angry and the man who owned the vineyard said, [Gesture] “Mercy: Give Me a Break.”

He added, “If I want to be generous, why are you so angry?

Jesus told that story because when we get to heaven we’re going to hear people complain about so and so and so and so being there - and they were so bad and God is going to say, [Gesture] “Mercy: Give Me a Break.”

And everyone is going to laugh.

And even though today’s gospel has these people who were goats - for not feeding the hungry, or visiting the sick, or visiting those in jail and for giving clothes to those who didn’t have any clothes - I’m willing to bet if they said, [Gesture] “Mercy: Give Me a Break.” They would get a get out of jail free deal - because our God is a God of Mercy.

So the title of my homily is be merciful - because God is merciful - so use that on your teachers and your parents when you mess up. Say to them, [Gesture] “Mercy: Give Me a Break.”

And if they call me up for being preaching and teaching them this message this morning, guess what I’m going to tell them, [Gesture] “Mercy: Give Me a Break.”



The title of my homily is, “Angels We Have Heard On High.”

Since today is the feast of three archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, I thought it would be a good idea to say something about angels.

Angels  appear in movies. We’re all well aware of Clarence in the movie, It’s A Wonderful Life.  Hopefully we’ve all seen that movie at least 5 times in full and 25 times in part. Then there are at least 2 dozen other angel movies. Here Comes Mr. Jordan and  Heaven Only Knows has stories about people who weren’t supposed to die so angels help them on their return.  Then there are the movies, Angels in the Outfield, Angels in the Infield and Angels in the Endzone.

It looks like the Los Angeles Angels are going to make the Playoffs while the guardian Angels of the Oriole players must have been asleep.

Angeles can be found not only in Judaism and Christianity, but also in various other mid-Eastern religions - Islam etc. etc. etc. Gabriel for example was considered Muhammad’s protector and the one who revealed to him the Koran.

Then there is so much stuff about angels in popular myth today and down through history and religion - that we are not that sure what we can know and believe about angels.

Catholic theologians and Church statements from on high have told us what is essential when it comes to beliefs about angels.

It’s Catholic doctrine that they are not God or gods. They are not to be adored - and that has happened. Only 3 have names officially: the 3 of today’s feast - Michael, Raphael and Gabriel.  We have 2 of them on the Our Lady of Perpetual Help picture: Michael and Gabriel.

When you come up to pray at the O L P H - the Our Lady of Perpetual Help shrine pray for peace in and with Islam.

Angels were around before creation. They are  creations of God. They don’t have bodies. They are spirits.

They are good by nature - but they also have the ability to choose - so there is the possibility of  bad angels - Satan and those who followed him. 

So key to angels - maybe even more to our awareness - is the possibility of demons who give us messages of temptation. At least, at times they are blamed.

Angels are called to worship God - and they help human beings. There are guardian angels. We’re called to do the same: guard others, help others, and worship and give God the glory and thanks.

They appear before the Old Testament, during it, as well as into the New Testament. They bring messages and protect human beings.

Then there is development in thought and imagination about angels down through the history of our religion about angels. They don’t have bodies, yet we picture them and make sculptures of them. For example, it wasn’t till the fourth century that wings appeared. For example, it wasn’t till the Italian Renaissance that little cupid baby faced angels appeared in images. They are masculine, young and move  fast. However, you can’t tell about whether they are male or female - much of the time.


The title of my homily is, “Angels We Have Heard On High.”

Yesterday afternoon I took an hour and a half to walk around this church and count how many angels are pictured or sculptured in this church.

In the middle ages there was the question about could a million angels sit on the pin point of a pin.

Up here in the sanctuary there are the 4 obvious statues of angels around the old altar and the tabernacle.

There are 3 angels on the sanctuary lamp. There are 2 angels on the OLPH picture Gabriel and Raphael.  Then there are the same two angels on the plaque over there that describes the OLPH picture. There are 2 angels at the end of each section of the communion rail. There are 6 angels on the candles up front up here.  Then there are 8 chubby faced little cutie angels up there on that painting above the altar.

On the stained glass windows there are 24.

On tops of pillars there are 10 - 5 on each side.

In the back there are 2 angels at the holy water fonts.

There are 24 angels in the stained glass windows.

That’s 63 angels.


The title of my homily is, “Angels We Have Heard On High.”

 Find yourself singing that hymn with others if you can sing or alone if you can’t sing and then bring Christ and his Many  Messages to others and maybe someone will give you the message, “Hey, you’re an angel.”

September 29, 2015


Rain on metal - like on the top of an
air conditioner - I like that sound - the
ping - ping - ping - of rain - letting me
know throughout the night that the soft
fall of rain is sinking silently into the soil,
into the earth - into my soul. And the alleys and the cars will be washed 
and life will go on and on and on - 
green, green, on and on - and on - 
even though it's the end of September 
and grass will soon brown and leaves 
will become rust orange, red and brown and fall to the ground - so too me - so
too slow crumble - so too winter - so too the slow knowing about resurrection and
Christ and hope and the Eternal Spring.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2015

Monday, September 28, 2015

September 28, 2015

Being a priest - opens up many doors -
like being in a hearse with a limo driver -
and a casket and a dead body at a
funeral - and then coming back without
the casket and the body. Definitely
different feelings to and from the cemetery ….

The driver - hey nobody notices him at a
funeral.  Lucky me I’ve heard them tell
about lots things most would never know -
little and big stuff buried inside another.

One guy said he grew up in the southwest
corner of Virginia  and there were these
mountains. He asked himself a hundred times,
“What’s on the other side of those mountains?”
He said he found out and never came back.
Then he added, “Thank God - otherwise
I would never have met my wife.”

And there was this driver who told me on
the way back from the cemetery, “You know
why they asked you to do the funeral?”
I said, “Well - no?” And he said, “Well it was
because he was a son of a b and his wife
knew you didn’t know him and everybody
else did and you’d say nice things about him.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015
September 28, 2015



The title of my homily for this 26 Monday in Ordinary Time is, “Who’s The Greatest?”


Wow! Wasn't the pope the greatest on his trip to us. Wow did he make Catholics proud of being Catholics.

Before Pope Francis headed home to Rome, he handed out 6 copies of the gospel of Luke - which he signed - to 6 families at the Celebration of Families in Philadelphia. They also are sending thousands of copies of the Gospel of Luke to the countries where the 6 families are from - or was it just Syria?

Just one gospel. Luke.

I like the idea. We used to do that for weekend retreats. We could get small inexpensive pocket size paperback copies of the different gospels from the American Bible Society. We’d cover different stories or parables and ask the retreatants to use that gospel for meditation till they came back for their weekend retreat the following year. It worked and it was well received.

The Pope is connecting the Gospel of Luke - which is also called the Gospel of Mercy - to this upcoming year of mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation. It will also be Year C in our Lectionary - the year of Luke.

So here we are on weekdays - going through the Gospel of Luke as well.

And in today’s gospel, Luke 9: 46-50 -  Jesus is asking us to look at the issue of wanting to be great  - even the desire to be the greatest. We all have that desire - that instinct. All of us - more or less want to look better - feel better - than other persons.

It’s in us.

When that feeling hits us, sometimes we feel dirty - “oh-no-ish.” Paradoxically in that very feeling of not wanting to be proud - up front - holier than thou - we are being just what we want to avoid.

Jesus in the gospel of Luke talks about these feelings - Pharisaical - at their worst. Jesus rubs the parable of two people who are praying in the temple in our face. The one up front says, “Thank God I’m not like these sinners here - especially that guy in the back”. Then he brags about all he does to show he’s better than others. And the guy in the back of the temple says, “Be merciful to me because I’m a sinner.”

I always think that the first step in humility is humor.

And this stuff often shows up in religious feelings.

So Church goers need to know and laugh at themselves.

So here in today’s gospel Jesus  is telling his disciples about greatness. It’s serving. Then he takes a child and puts him right next to him and says, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

Kids don’t have titles - labels - degrees - medals - stripes - robes - top hats - uniforms to prove they are on top.


So we saw the pope in his little Fiat sandwiched on both sides - and back and front - by big SUV’s with flashing lights.

So we saw the pope embracing little children and little old ladies.

So we saw the pope embracing prisoners and down syndrome folks.

So we saw all these bishops with fancy prestige vestments and pointed hats.

You gotta have a sense of humor. I’ve seen articles with pictures of bishops hats - one taller than the other. I was looking at the bishops in the processions last night and Pope Francis’ hat - miter - was smaller than some of these other guys with their miters. The pope talked to bishops about all this in private meetings. It’s the stuff of humor and jealousy amongst us priests.

Unfortunately we saw that picture in Catholic magazines last year of a Cardinal in Rome with a big red cape trailing behind him for 10 yards - bigger than any bridal gown - with her long white veil.

This stuff - called jealousy - wanting to be bigger and better than others - prestige  - pride - shows up in church - politics - picnics - groups - clubs - volunteer groups - work - what have you.

People want better seats, different seats, higher seats - whatever is bigger and better than our seat to show that they are better than us.  

We use age, cars, home, cars, brands, clothes, jewelry, toes, toe nail polish, skin color, shape, weight, height, size, the look, to look better than the other.

You have to laugh.


People get mad at me when I hit this “greatness” button. I make comments that are digs - and the hidden agenda is that I’m better than those I’m making fun of. I do that. Jesus didn’t.

For example, when I saw all those bishops - all males - up front at the pope thing - the comedian in me - likes to say, “I’d like to see God be a woman for the next 2000 years - along with the bishops and priests - and see how the men react to that. 

I would then watch the same thing happen with women that happens with male priests.

I heard of a woman who wants to be a priest - and her reason,  “I want to be served as priests are served - have someone pick up after me.”


We all are included in Jesus’ watching us and trying to get us to laugh at ourselves.

We are all included in Jesus watching us and wanting us to serve the little children and the older folks - especially those in their second childhood as the pope pointed out by example more than words.


I love that picture of Francis - Jorge - on a subway in Buenos Aires in Argentina by himself - carrying his bag - wearing his black suit - travelling with ordinary folks..

Some of us priests - I know I do -  make fun in our minds and sometimes with our tongues of priests and all these seminarians who are into French cuffs and clerical garb.

I know that’s the deeper sin - inner mocking - inner judgment - inner criticism - and all that stuff -  that I’m better - we’re better than them.

So Jesus laughs at me too.

Thank God there is always mercy - and thank God the call is always there to forget the nonsense and serve one another. Amen.

Sunday, September 27, 2015



The title of my homily is, “What Are You Observing?”

Yogi Berra died last Tuesday, September 22, 2015, at the age of 90.

He’s famous for many comments - called Yogi-isms.

One is, “You can observe a lot by watching.”

As a baseball catcher - while behind the plate - he had to observe a lot - he had to watch a lot. He had to do the same while at bat - as well as later on while coaching and managing.

So he observed a lot by watching - even though what he observed came out of his mouth not that clear at times - but many times with a twist of wisdom and smart insight.


I’m sure all of you are watching a lot of TV when it comes to the pope.

I’m sure some of you went to see him - and you’ll be telling people that story for the rest of your life. I know I’d be doing that.

Whether on TV or in person, what did you observe about this pope?  What did you learn? What are your wonderings? What are your questions? What are you hearing? What are you hoping for?

I observed that he looks a lot like Yogi Berra - and that both have a lot of wisdom - even though Yogi only went to the 8th Grade. Both have big ears. Both are first generation Italian-Americans. Both have immigrant roots - one in North America - the other South America. Both have great smiles. Both are wise - and beyond wise.

I observed that both became shepherds. Francis of the Church. Yogi of the Yankees and Mets as manager and coach and Houston as coach.

I am not a Yankee fan. In fact I was brought up in Brooklyn and we were taught to hate the Yankees.

Hate is a no no for this pope. But the Yankees?

Yogi played for 18 seasons - 1946-63 and with him the hated Yankees reached the World Series 14 times and won 10 titles. He was MVP three times. He struck out rarely and threw out people trying to steal bases regularly.

Francis our pope is out there playing the position as pope for going on 3 years now.  He looks like a MVP and Hall of Famer to me.

We’re observing him up close and personal now - here on the east coast and quite close to us here in Annapolis.  We are observing him on TV big time.

What are we seeing?

What are we observing?

Keep talking to each other.

Keep observing to each other.

I’ve been asked 25 times in the past few days, did I see him in Washington? I’m sure various people have asked you the same question.

I said, “Nope” but on TV “Yep” - big time.

Father Charlie of our community went to DC and got within 60 yards of him at the Mass at the National Shrine. I got a chance to ask him all my questions. He’s going again today to Philly.

I think I am observe a lot more on TV and in the papers and on the computer - than I would being there in a crowd. But that’s another experience.

While in Rome in 1984 I went to see the Pope at the Wednesday audience in the Vatican circle or Piazza. A priest at our place in Rome where I was staying told me to get there 1 hour ahead of time - and he drew on a napkin where to exactly stand. I was to be at a wooden saw horse fence - on a corner - on the route the pope mobile would pass after his talk and prayers.

So there I was standing - at the right spot.  Surprise!  I look at the person right next to me. It was Bill Walton the basketball player - believe it or not.

Just as the pope mobile turned to come down our way - the crowd knocked over the wooden fence or portable saw horse fence and made a dash for the pope.

I found myself in the back of the crowd. Jesus was right. The first shall be last.

I observed and learned that day you see a lot more on TV.

Kathy at our doctor’s office said she went to see the pope in Washington D.C. years ago - along with a million other people. She couldn’t see the pope in person. There she was watching the whole thing on one of those jumbothons TV’s.

So I prefer a soft seat in front of the TV.


I observed a lot.

I noticed that I have a lot of questions.

I want to know whom he consulted - whom he talked with - fellow Jesuits. Americans? Who?

I want to know how long had he worked on his English. My Spanish is horrible - and I had it for 4 years while in the seminary - along with Portuguese, Greek, and lots and lots and lots of Latin.

I want to know if he had any impact and what kind of an impact - on congress, the president, the United Nations, Cuba and our Church in the United States.

I want to know what Catholics who have dropped out are thinking?

I want to know what people are talking to each other about on the one zillion cell phones  - besides all those pictures.

I’m wondering about how many people got a hint from the Holy Spirit or their parents or grandparents that they would be welcome back at Church.

Welcome….That’s a major, major, major, major message of Pope Francis.

I loved it that our high school kids were in our auditorium watching the pope’s address to congress. I’ll find out in the coming year - if and what kind of an impact the pope had.  I’ll try to find out what kind of an impact?

This is this pope’s first visit to the United States. We are not the world. We are part of the world? We are just the East Coast - what about Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles?  What about Toronto and Paris and Moscow and Beijing?  What about Vietnam and Lagos, Nigeria?

Pope John Paul 2 made 7 visits to the United States in his 27 years as pope.

Yogi Berra said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

My observation is that this pope is very different and this visit was different and it’s not déjà vu all over again.

We’ll see.


The title of my homily is, “What Are You Observing?”

What a great way to read the scriptures?

Millions of people along the routes that Francis took in his pope mobile studied his smile - waved back to him - took their pictures - especially selfies with him in the background. Many more millions observed him on TV and with Yogi Berra or Jorge Bergoglio - Francis ears - heard his messages.

What a great way to read the scriptures?

Picture yourself in the crowd for today’s readings. Picture yourself hearing his words on TV. Hear his messages.

Jesus in today’s gospel - Moses in today’s first reading  - and reiterated by  Pope Francis - celebrate the good done by anyone of good will.

Please do the same. Engage those you live and work with - church goers or not - and celebrate people of Good Will - and be sneaky and subtle, smart and as wise as Yogi Berra and this pope - invite Catholics and Christians and all back to centers of worship to make this a better world. Amen.