Saturday, June 25, 2016

June  25, 2016


Wait a minute.

Please listen to me.
Listen to my stories - 
listen to my songs,
even if you heard them before -
many, many times -
because these are the stories of my life,
they are my life.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2016

Friday, June 24, 2016

June 24, 2016


Even those who don’t believe there is a hell,
know there is a hell. For starters, it’s when
home is no longer home.  You just don’t feel
any peace there. No chair is a favorite chair.
The air is stale. The ceiling fan is still. It’s
silent. It’s turned off - like God - who all but
disappeared that Friday afternoon. I have
the feeling that forgiveness is impossible.

It’s when a relationship, a marriage, a love,
a friendship has gone sour. You’ve been
dumped, dropped, forgotten, rejected - and
you don’t taste what’s in your half empty
glass -  only the Nausea. The divorce of
Being and Nothingness ended in a marriage.
You feel there is No Exit. It’s then you know
what  Sartre said, “Hell is - other people.”[1]

“Abandon hope, all who enter here.” [2] That’s
Dante’s warning in his Inferno. Wait! Have hope
all who enter into this poem. Be a prodigal. 
Return home. There are others. Dante also wrote, Purgatorio and Paradiso. Turn on the ceiling fan. Feel the fresh air of the Spirit breathing Christ’s peace into your upper room. There is an exit.There is Easter. There is forgiveness. 

[1] Jean Paul Sartre, Huis-Clos
[No Exit] 1944, scene v
[2] Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy,
Inferno [c.1310-1320] Canto III, l. 9
 © Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Thursday, June 23, 2016

June 23, 2016


Sticks and stones and broken bones -
without a mouth, without a shout….
Someone needs to speak up, to come
up with words, with a shout out about
the dangers of weapons - from rocks
to Molotov cocktails - to assault rifles
with dozens and dozens of clips of
bullets - that can kill dozens and dozens
of people in minutes. Where is Isaiah?
Where is Joel? Where is Micah? Where
are the prophets who seem to scream to
plow all this money back into the land?
Where is Jesus screaming to put down the
swords - to sit down with bread and wine -
to speak words of peace with one’s enemies?

Cf. Isaiah 2:4; Joel 4:10; Micah 4:3;
 Matthew 26:52; John 18:11

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


The title of my reflection for tonight is, “Three Images of Mary.”

The gospel story - Luke 2: 22-35 - which I picked for this evening ends with the words, “a sword will pierce your own soul so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.”

Millions and millions of people down through the ages have knelt, sat, stood before an image of Mary - or said the rosary - made a novena - and laid bare their thoughts to her - to themselves and to our God.

So the title of my thoughts for tonight is, “Three Images of Mary.”


The first image will be the favorite image of Mary for Pope Francis: Our Lady of the Knots.

The second image will be that of Our Lady or Our Mother of Perpetual Help - the cause and main focus of  tonight’s service.

The third image will be your favorite image of Mary - the Mother of God, the Mother of Jesus, our Mother Mary, the Patron of this church - St. Mary’s Church, Annapolis, Maryland.


Pope Francis has made known to us his favorite image of Mary, Our Lady of the Knots - or better "Mary, Untier of the Knots."

He saw it in Austria when he was studying in Europe as a Jesuit from Argentina.

It’s a Baroque painting that goes back to around 1700 - painted by Johann Georg Schmidtner.

It’s in St. Peter am Perlach’s Church in Augsburg, Germany.

Like the painting of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, it has angels in the painting - but a lot more than the Perpetual Help ikon. It also has stars. A thread runs down the center of the picture. Mary’s foot is on the knotted snake - from Genesis 3:15.

Below that are small figures: a man walking along with his dog and an angel. Authorities say it’s the angel Raphael accompanying Tobias on his way to ask Sarah to be his wife.

A further explanation for the figures at the bottom of the painting is the story that the benefactor of the painting wanted the story told about his grandfather being guided by the Archangel Raphael to see a priest - Father Jacob Rem - when he was having marriage problems that needed to be unknotted.

But the main story is central image of Mary untying our knots.

And that’s what I hear Pope Francis pushing when he got back to Argentina and promoted this picture of Mary - and that’s the grab I picked up - from those who like this image of Mary.

Pray to her to untie your knots - in family, at work, in parishes, in life, wherever. 

Things can get knotted up.

We’ve all have had knots in our shoes laces, our rosaries or what have you.


Another pope, Pope Pius IX - in 1865 - asked us Redemptorists to promote this image of Our Lady or Our Mother of Perpetual Help - and that we did - all around the world - especially through the Wednesday Novena.

We are celebrating 150 years of doing this around the world beginning this week. The image of our Lady of Perpetual Help is Rome - and Father Tizio and so many other Redemptorists are there at this time on that pilgrimage - and they hope to see other Redemptorist holy places as well.

As you know the Icon goes back to at least 1499 - to the island of Crete where it was for years. Then it was stolen and brought to Rome and ended up in a church - where the Redemptorists built a church and our headquarters years later. So that’s how it came into our lives.

It has two angels in the painting: Gabriel and Michael. The third of those archangels is Raphael.  That could be a tie in with Mary, Untier of the Knots, painting.

Another tie in is our need for help when we are knotted up.

For the sake of transparency, I grew up in  Brooklyn and our parish and church was  Our Lady of Perpetual Help - OLPH.

For the sake of transparency, my first job in life was that of candle boy at OLPH.

Mrs. O’Leary needed help. So two boys would do the candles  every Sunday Morning - every Wednesday afternoon and evening - at the Novena - and every Saturday afternoon and evening at confessions time.

We would take out on metal cookie trays - fresh 10 cent candles - they lasted 2 hours of so - whatever it was - and we wore leather hand ball gloves - that were filled with wax - and with a metal gadget, pick the square metal wick holder - all that was left from the burnt out candle - and put in a new candle in the red glass candle holder - that was on the candle rack - sort of like the ones in this church right before us.

They paid us $2.50 cents a week. There it was my first lesson in life. “Don’t work for the church. They don’t pay well.”

The second lesson was the unconscious lesson that people were praying for help. They were worried about sons in Korea. They were worried about marriages. They were worried about sick parents. They were praying to Mary for help.

It took me a while to get that the number one prayer in the world is the word, “Help!”

I am knotted up, “Help.”

I am worried, “Help.”

I need a job, “Help!”

I need a husband, “Help.”

I need a wife, “Help!”

It wasn’t till many years later that I read in the English Classic Spiritual Book, The Cloud of Unknowing, that a person in a burning building doesn’t need to be taught what to say, when he or she is in that building. If it’s on fire, scream, “Help.”

It took me time to figure out what that book was saying: When it comes to God and life, learn the short words - the one syllable words and get to know them. God. Sin. Help.

In time I figured out prayer can be summed up in 4 prayers - each a short basic word: Help. Sorry. Thanks and Wow.

In time I figured out that we need to use those 4 words not only with God, but also with each other every day: Help, Sorry. Thanks. And Wow.

If we can’t say them to each other, how can we say them to God.

Tonight I’m stressing Help.

St. Alphonsus said that this was the key to our salvation: prayer of asking for help.

It’s the first step - asking for help - then getting the wisdom to do what’s next. I love the saying, “Pray for potatoes, but pick up a shovel.”

Light a candle, but then go to the want ads.

And everyone who has seen the movie, My Cousin Vinny, knows that Vinny didn’t like help. He had to do everything on his own. He didn’t want help - till he realize he needed his girlfriend, Mona Lisa Vito. He needed an old Judge friend in New York. Judge Molloy.


The third image of Mary  is your image of Mary.

What is your favorite image of Mary?

Tell each other. Lay bare as the gospel reading I picked at the beginning - the thoughts you have about Mary in your spiritual life.

 A few days ago I was talking to Father Bob Wojtek about this talk and I told him I was looking for images of Mary that told a story: like Mary, the Untier of Knots. That’s a story. You see the big string right down through the center of the picture.

The picture of OLPH is also story. It has Jesus scared and running so fast to Mary - that his sandal falls off as he leaps into her arms.

It’s a scene and a moment that has happened to every kid that has ever lived. We get scared at times. Where’s mommy? We stress and still bite our thumb nails at times.


So I told Father Bob I was looking for images of Mary with something in her hands and he says, “The Child.”

I laughed at the obvious.

Surprise. There are many, many,  statues and images of Mary that have the child in her arms - or the dead Christ, the Pieta, the Sorrowful Mother, images.

But I was looking for something else to come up with for  my third image of Mary besides the one Pope Pius 9th told us Redemptorists to promote, OLPH, and  the one Pope Francis pushed in Argentina and Latin America, the Untier of the Knots.

I could not come up with a third, so I came up with this idea.

Get a piece of paper and a pen - or crayons - or clay  - and make one’s own  image of Mary - but make it a story - like so many images of Mary.

In doing this myself, I came up with two first draft  images. But I’m not an artist.

The first would be a bronze of Mary  standing there - lifting up the hem of her garment and pointing to Jesus to touch the hem of his garment as the gospel story puts it and her mouth and her face is yelling, “Ahem. Touch the hem of his garment and be healed.”

That’s our theology of Mary. She is not God - she points us to Jesus and he can help us enter deeper and deeper into the story of God - into the trinity.

The second image would also be a bronze or a painting and Mary is standing there next to 6 large water jars - pointing to Jesus, “Work a miracle. This marriage is out of wine.”


Want a great job description on how to do life well? It’s “help!”  It’s a nice short word like “love” but it’s loaded with the call to act.

As the song goes, “Don’t talk about love, show me.”

Isn’t that what Mary did in the gospels, and all through the years in our church? 

Better: hasn't she been a perpetual help, perpetually?
June 22, 2016


Those who are right - and know they
are right, claim Jesus as their own.

You’re wrong! I’m right! Case closed!

And those who are left - and know they are
left, know they are left with Jesus as well.

You’re wrong! I’m left! Case closed!

And we’ll never know - whether Jesus was
righty or lefty that day he wrote in the dust.

You’re right! There is nobody left to judge you.

Cf. John 8: 1-11

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

The title of my  for this 12th Wednesday in Ordinary Time is, “Covenants: Written and Unwritten.”

Today’s first reading ends with the statement, “And all the people stood as participants in the covenant.” [Cf. 2 Kings 23: 3.]

If we had a photograph of that crowd that day - would we be able to read body language, faces, to see if all were enthusiastic with their “Amen!”

The word “covenant” is used four times in today’s first reading - 2 Kings 22: 8-13, 23: 1-3 - and it appears 289 times in this New American Bible translation of the Bible.

So I thought I’d give a few basic  thoughts about the idea of “Covenants: Written and Unwritten.”


First of all the word covenant is still used - especially in church.

It has declined in use out there in the marketplace - government - family - and in dealings with one another. At least that’s my perception.

Covenants are agreements, approvals, consents, contracts, endorsements.

Covenants are an “Amen” - giving the green light to - “Yes” vote towards - consensus - co-signing - go along with - dittos - shake hands on - signed or undersigned - sealed the deal - sworn to - good.

If you live in Sherwood Forest, or Heritage Harbor, do you have to sign a covenant?


In our lifetime, the word “covenant” is regularly used in religious ceremonies - marriages, mass, prayers.

We are people of the covenant: the old and the new covenant.

Marriage is a legal contract - because we’re dealing with property and money and children and rights.

We add the word “covenant” - especially when we have marriages in the context of a religious ceremony.


Without knowing it at times, we make covenants with each other all the time.

We know there is often an unwritten covenant going on when we get angry - really angry with another.

We assume that everyone has signed on to keep the Golden Rule - and when that is broken uh oh! The other does dirty to us.

We assume the great unwritten rule for all human beings is, “Fair is fair!”

Little kids let us know about this basic human covenant - whenever it comes to cake and cookies.

When driving and we come to a “Men Working” sign, there is an assumption all will honest and not sneak up on others - not allowing others to jump three cars - instead of every other car.

Fair is fair in traffic - while waiting to get into a restaurant - what have you?

Dictators who have not signed the Hague Convention of 1899 and 1907 - with its Declaration of Human Rights - are arrested at times and have to appear for trial at the Hague - for breaking basic human rights.

That’s covenant stuff. That’s Nuremburg Trial stuff.


We have been plowing through the Sermon on the Mount these 3 weeks

Is Jesus saying that there are unwritten expectations for all people - basic human goodness - like in today’s gospel - not to be a ravenous wolf when the other expects us to be a good sheep. Is Jesus saying, “Hey, guy, hey gal, you’re expected to bear good fruit. That’s a no brainer, dummy. Get it?


Besides Saint Paulinus of Nola, today is the feast of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More - who were face to face with keeping church law or Henry VIII’s wishes.  They went with the King of Heaven and they both lost their heads - on this conflict of covenants.


We’re here today - and at every Mass to pronounce our Amen to the new and eternal covenant of Jesus.

And at the Great Amen to that covenant, the priest holds up the chalice - as the Father of the Bride does at every his daughter’s wedding and we say, “Amen” and at communion we add, “I’ll drink to that.”

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

June 21, 2016


I’ve been called and thought
to be many things: strange,
creative, late, out of focus,
but the one criticism which
would really hurt, would be
to be called, “mediocre” - as
mediocre as boiled potatoes.

Does everyone have one word, 
one label that would really hurt - 
like “failure” or “passe”, or  “can’t 
trust" or the worst, “mediocre”, 
aimed at us by someone with 
a squeezed and squinched nose - 
with a Pharisee sneer.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016



The title of my homily for this 12th Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “Massive Killings.”

In today’s first reading from the Second Book of Kings 19:35, we have the following sentence, “That night the angel of the Lord went forth and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp.”

I assume that is being read  all across the world today at weekday Masses and then we tip toe away from it. I know I do. Unless people ask for different weekday Mass readings for today’s feast of St. Aloysius.


A rabbi at a Jewish Catholic wedding asked me if I had read the Koran. I said, “No.”  He said, “I think we rabbis, priests and ministers should read it.”

So I bought a copy and started reading it. I began to notice the word “burn” and “fire” over and over again.  Then I got myself an orange highlighter and started reading the Koran again - from page 1. And every time I saw the word “fire” or  “burn” I marked it.

Violence was burning on its pages.

At the same time at a morning weekday Mass the reading talked about killing and God killing and what have you. So here it is - the killings - in our Bible as well.

Once again in today’s first reading it has God zapping 180,000 of the Assyrian army,

And I’d assume this is the history of our world - deaths - and people bringing God into the battle and bringing God into the killing.

One can read that through the Bible as well. Should I mark my Bible in red?


Last night - after reading that -  I said to myself, “Now what?”

Does God kill like this?  Does God want all this killing.

Answers? Please?

Then I found myself falling back on my constant out - my favorite saying from the Talmud, “Teach thy tongue to say, ‘I do not know.’”

Then, last night, I began wondering about the numbers killed in different wars and what have you.

I typed into the Google search engine questions like: “Deaths Sudan? Irish Potato Famine? Argentina’s Dirty War? [1976-1983] Mexican Revolution?”  I had seen the movie, “Duck You Sucker!” about all the killings and fighting in the Mexican Revolution. How many people were just gunned down at point blank range?

I found out that the U.S. Civil War had 625,000 deaths at least.

World War I has a lot more when it comes to deaths - 11 million military and 7 million civilian deaths. Another statistic has 17 million killed and 20 million wounded.

The Second World War lists 80 million killed.

Then there are the unknown number of those killed in the whole modern history of Russia.

Mao - in the Chinese Revolution - is said to be responsible for 40 million dead.

Then there is the Korean War - with one listing of 5 million killed.

I saw a listing of 1,622,973 killed in the Vietnam War.

In the last bunch of years we have millions more killed in  Iraq, Syria, and the Middle East.

And we can go back and look at the genocide in Armenia or the Jewish Holocaust - and on and on and on.


I don’t know about you on all of this.

That number - of 185,000 - killed in today’s first reading - hit me - and triggered my questions and the looking up of so many numbers.

There is a just war theory in Catholic Christian morality. When I was in my 30’s and 40’s  I’d appeal to the Letter of St. James when it comes to war and atrocity. We just can’t stand there and say, “Best of luck. Get help. Hope you make it.” In the meanwhile our brothers and sisters are killed.

We need our police - our military - our security systems.

How many more would have been killed in Orlando - if the swat team didn’t finally kill this guy who was killing so many people.

In the meanwhile craziness begets craziness, wars beget wars, assault rifles make money and killings and political rant.


At 76 I stand by and say God is crying - and Jesus I get it when you say turn the other cheek and put down the sword.

I know that’s the narrow way and the narrow gate - and somehow it will lead to life - and the other way - the broad way - leads to death.

And these texts in scripture about God killing - I see them now as hopes and dreams and projections of people who don’t want to be killed so they want God  to kill - to do that dirty work.

But why war and horror?

And  this will be one more of my questions when I get to see God.

Monday, June 20, 2016

June 20, 2016

A little kid opening a door and seeing
a crowd of  people singing “Happy
Birthday” around a big birthday cake
with five lit candles on top. “WOW!”

Walking in the rain - lots of rain -  
walking through the green leaves - lots
of lush green leaves - and the green grabs 
us - as the leaves glisten in slabs of rain.

An old couple coming up out of a
church basement - holding hands -
with a great smile on their faces.
“Bingo. Wow did we just win in Bingo!”

A whole college crowd at a basketball
game  - climbing - heading down onto the
basketball floor - screaming. It was their
first win in three and a half years.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016



The title of my homily is for this 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, is, “Who Do You Say That I Am?”

It’s a question Jesus asks of his disciples in today’s gospel.

It’s a question that pops up in many gospel stories as well as in Paul’s letters.

It took the church 7 ecumenical councils and various heresies to nail down some of the great understandings of who Christ is.

The Council of Nicea in 325 declared against Arius that the Second Person didn’t start with the Birth of Christ. Christ is co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

The Council of Chalcedon of 451 declared definitively that Christ has two natures: human and divine.

And as we heard in today’s second reading from Paul to the Galatians: we humans are called into the divine - first by being baptized into Christ -  becoming clothed in Christ - so we are no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, but we are one in Christ - becoming heirs to the promise. Now that’s a great message. No wonder Paul says all is hinged, all is connected to Christ’s resurrection. If he didn’t rise from the dead, forget about life eternal. [ Cf. 1 Corinthians 15: 12-19.]

Then there are the teachings of Aquinas - in the 13th century - coming out of Aristotle’s Greek Philosophy and then the Scholastic theories that followed -  teaching about the perfection of the attributes of Christ - as well as  God.

Then came in the centuries that followed many warmer and more physical and  human images of Christ - as baby, as crucified, as heart, as Eucharist.

So there are many reflections, projections, images, paintings, statues, answers to the question of Christ to us: “Who do you say I am?”

And there are various possible heresies - missteps - mistakes - misperceptions of who Christ is - happening from time to time as well.

We now the reality of missed perception. We’ve all experienced people who think they know us, but we know they don’t really know who we are.

Haven’t we all said in frustration, “Who do you think I am?” and have we added to that, “Jesus Christ.”


It’s Father’s Day - and we hear from Jesus - over and over again - messages, revelations, descriptions - about God Our Father.

And we hear in the Gospels various misperceptions according to Jesus about how people see God Our Father.

God  doesn’t cause blindness. He doesn’t only send rain on the good. Good and bad things happen to good and bad people.

In fact, Jesus also tells us over and over again, that he and the Father are one. He tells us: see me, see the Father. Hear me, you’ll hear the Father.

So it’s important to get to know Christ - if we want to get to know the Father. 

That is a central Christian teaching.

And it takes us a lifetime to discover Christ - God - Trinity - and then there is eternity - for more - the Great More called God.

We believe that God is a Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I don’t know about your spiritual experiences - but I know I have better understandings - perceptions - of Father and Son - than I do of God the Holy Spirit.


Today is Father’s Day - and we think about our dads - living and dead.

Every Father hopefully knows consciously - and unconsciously - the responsibility of revealing God - Love - Light - Goodness - Presence - Thereness - Food - Forgiveness - Mercy - to their child - to their children.

Every priest has the “If you ever knew my father” moment. It happens after Mass - usually - one to one - or on a high school or an adult retreat.

It wipes the priest out that day - that Sunday afternoon - that week.

It goes like this. Someone says to us, “If you ever knew my father, you would know how difficult it is, to hear God described as our Father. It’s hard to say the Our Father…” because of the dad I had.

Every priest also knows how difficult it is to be called “Father So and So” when someone tells them about a horrendous moment or experience with some priest.

Every priest also knows how difficult it is to hear someone cry, vent, as they talk about God abandoning them, because of the loss of a child, a spouse, a parent, a loved one - because of cancer, abuse, rape, accident, murder - or what have you.

So to be a Father - is quite a responsibility - as well as being a Mother.

In general, we don’t mention the tough stuff on Father’s Day or Mother’s Day.


I have a sermon somewhere that I preached on some Father’s Day - and the gist of what I said was this.

If your dad was great, praise him and give him thanks - living or dead.

If your dad made some mistakes, forgive him - please, because if you don’t,  then you might be a repeat performance.

Instead of being a person with anger or breathing the aftertaste of disaster, become a better person - a better  father, mother, son, daughter, friend.

Jesus had a lot to say about this - with his turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, forgive 70 times 7 stuff.


Have you had a Luke 15 experience yet?  

Luke 15 is not today's gospel. That's coming up later on this year of Luke.

If you want to read one chapter of one book in the Bible, read Luke 15.

I’m sure you’ve heard the story about W.C. Fields - about someone catching him reading the Bible. The other person said, “I didn’t know you were a church goer or a Bible person.”  And W.C. Fields said with his great smirky smile, “Just looking for loopholes. Just looking for loopholes.”

In Luke 15, we have 3 stories, 3 loopholes, 3 images. They are right there in the center of his gospel.

I’m meeting people wanting to know where are these special doors of mercy so they can walk through.

They say they want mercy, forgiveness, indulgences.

I want to scream out that the door is a metaphor.

I want to scream, "The door is Jesus. Walk through the door, the gate, the upper room, the temple called Jesus."

I want to scream, “Open up Luke 15 and enter into Jesus and have him tell you those 3 stories there.”

Eat up the 3 stories there: about being a lost sheep, being a lost coin, or about being a lost son or daughter.  Eat, chew on, digest those 3 stories and experience the Luke 15 experience.

In life sometimes I become a lost sheep. I stray. If lost, start baing. Start screaming,  “Baa, baa, baa,” louder and louder, till God the Good Shepherd finds us and brings us back to the 99 - to the flock.

In life, sometimes I am the lost coin. sometimes I lose my shine and don’t reflect the light. It that has happened, pray to God our Mother, that she will feel us - feel our coldness under her foot and rejoice and celebrate because she has found us her lost coin - and scream to everyone - that she has found us her lost coin.

In life, sometimes I am the lost son or daughter and I have wandered way far from home and God our Father has looked out the window and up the road a hundred days and a hundred nights hoping to see us in the morning light or the evening sunset - coming home - smelly as a pig pen. And Jesus is this one of his greatest stories says the father ran towards us - embraces us - celebrates us - clothes us - and has a dinner for us - even if other family members won’t celebrate our return - after all we’ve done to hurt our dad - ruin the family name - have people pointing towards our front door.

Jesus is telling us in that story about what God our Father is like.

Jesus is telling us in that story about what every dad should be like.

Jesus is telling us in that story what he is like.

Jesus is telling us in that story what every priest is to be like.

I love it  that Pope Francis is still telling us to smell like the sheep.

So have you had a Luke 15 experience yet.

I had mine years ago. I was simply sitting there in a church praying. I was picturing myself dying and appearing before God.

I began wondering what it’s going to be like appearing before God - what God will say about my life - my mistakes - my laziness - all the things I forgot - all my broken promises.

Then I said to God: “Wait a minute if you’re not like the Prodigal Father in the Prodigal Son Story, the hell with you. I’m going to go find that Father - the one your son Jesus told us about.”

Then I went, “Uh oh,” as I put my hand to my mouth.

Then I said, “No, that’s the God I want to meet. That’s the God I’m following and expecting the promise.”


The title of my homily is, “Who Do You Say That I Am?”

I was talking to a father last night - just before the baptism of his baby son.

He was a little bit early, so we got talking.

I said, “Happy Father’s Day.”

And I said, “With Father’s Day coming tomorrow, I was thinking of my own dad - and maybe mention him in my homily for today.”

And this father said, “When I was a little kid, my father was perfect. When I became a teenager, and when I was leaving home, my dad wasn’t so perfect. Then when I got older, especially when I became a father,  I saw my father in a whole new light.”

You and I have heard that scenario a hundred times - at graduation addresses, 50th anniversaries as well as at funerals.

So the answer to the question, “Who do you say I am?”  when it comes to our fathers, for starters, is, “It all depends.”

My dad died June 26, 1970 - a week after Father’s Day - and my answer to the “Who Do You Say That I Am?” question has changed since I preached his homily at his funeral.

My dad was Mister Quiet - Mister Smile - a reader and an observer - from the corner - always there - always quiet.

I had sat down with him before he died and jotted down on yellow legal pad paper all kinds of information about his growing up in Ireland, coming to America in 1923 - at the age of 19 - looking for work in Boston, Portland Maine, Philadelphia, and finally New York City.

Before my mom's death,  I used a tape recorder and asked her  about her life and my dad’s life and got even more answers about who my dad was. I was also in Ireland in 1996 and I talked to my dad’s brother about his brother. They told me if I went down to see him alone - in the afternoon - he would speak in English. In the meanwhile I have talked to my two sisters and my brother about our dad.

It’s good to hear answers and to go figure not only who Christ is, who God is, who our dad is, but also who we are.