I Don't Know Is On Third

by Fr. Mark Kurowski | MySpiritualAdvisor2018

#IDontKnowIsOnThird is the podcast for August 5, 2018.  Abbot and Costello, the legendary comedic duo, describe the logic with which the  people in John 6 approach Jesus and “signs”. “What sign will you give us?” They have no idea. Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #John #John6 #AbbotAndCostello #WhosOnFirst #Signs #GospelofJohn #Moses #RedSea #MannafromHeaven #Manna

Full Text of Abbot & Costello in Video Above (For our Deaf and H/H brethren)

“Who’s on First”

(Lou Costello is considering becoming a ballplayer. Bud Abbott wants to make sure he knows what he’s getting into.)

Abbott: Strange as it may seem, they give ball players nowadays very peculiar names.

Costello: Funny names?

Abbott: Nicknames, nicknames. Now, on the St. Louis team we have Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know is on third–

Costello: That’s what I want to find out. I want you to tell me the names of the fellows on the St. Louis team.

Abbott: I’m telling you. Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know is on third–

Costello: You know the fellows’ names?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: Well, then who’s playing first?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: I mean the fellow’s name on first base.

Abbott: Who.

Costello: The fellow playin’ first base.

Abbott: Who.

Costello: The guy on first base.

Abbott: Who is on first.

Costello: Well, what are you askin’ me for?

Abbott: I’m not asking you–I’m telling you. Who is on first.

Costello: I’m asking you–who’s on first?

Abbott: That’s the man’s name.

Costello: That’s who’s name?

Abbott: Yes.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Costello: When you pay off the first baseman every month, who gets the money?

Abbott: Every dollar of it. And why not, the man’s entitled to it.

Costello: Who is?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: So who gets it?

Abbott: Why shouldn’t he? Sometimes his wife comes down and collects it.

Costello: Who’s wife?

Abbott: Yes. After all, the man earns it.

Costello: Who does?

Abbott: Absolutely.

Costello: Well, all I’m trying to find out is what’s the guy’s name on first base?

Abbott: Oh, no, no. What is on second base.

Costello: I’m not asking you who’s on second.

Abbott: Who’s on first!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Costello: St. Louis has a good outfield?

Abbott: Oh, absolutely.

Costello: The left fielder’s name?

Abbott: Why.

Costello: I don’t know, I just thought I’d ask.

Abbott: Well, I just thought I’d tell you.

Costello: Then tell me who’s playing left field?

Abbott: Who’s playing first.

Costello: Stay out of the infield! The left fielder’s name?

Abbott: Why.

Costello: Because.

Abbott: Oh, he’s center field.

Costello: Wait a minute. You got a pitcher on this team?

Abbott: Wouldn’t this be a fine team w i t h o u t a pitcher?

Costello: Tell me the pitcher’s name.

Abbott: Tomorrow.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Costello: Now, when the guy at bat bunts the ball–me being a good catcher–I want to throw the guy out at first base, so I pick up the ball and throw it to who?

Abbott: Now, that’s he first thing you’ve said right.


Abbott: Don’t get excited. Take it easy.

Costello: I throw the ball to first base, whoever it is grabs the ball, so the guy runs to second. Who picks up the ball and throws it to what. What throws it to I don’t know. I don’t know throws it back to tomorrow–a triple play.

Abbott: Yeah, it could be.

Costello: Another guy gets up and it’s a long ball to center.

Abbott: Because.

Costello: Why? I don’t know. And I don’t care.

Abbott: What was that?

Costello: I said, I DON’T CARE!

Abbott: Oh, that’s our shortstop!

Full Text of Podcast, Open Here (For our Deaf and H/H Brethren)

For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Fr. Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday,   8/5/2018  The 18th   Sunday of Ordin Module Settings ary Time.

Please pause this audio and read John 6:24-35.

On March 24, 1938, the comedy team of Bud Abbot and Lou Costello performed for a national audience on the Kate Smith Show the sketch “Who’s on first?”  It was a huge success and became an instant classic. It was an adaptation on the burlesque theme of taking ambiguous words and using them as nicknames for people in stories. In this instance, Abbot talks about a baseball team whose entire starting line up has these ambiguous words as their nicknames.  The man going by the nickname “Who” is on first; “What” is on second; “I don’t know” is on third and so forth. [I have posted a video at MySpiritualAdvisor.com of the skit for our amusement.]

As the routine goes on, Abbot says, “Who is on first.” Costello says, “That is what I am trying to find out. What is the guy’s name on first?” “No,” says Abbot, “What is on second.” “I don’t know,” says Costello. “He’s on third,” says Abbot. All this to the feigned frustration of Costello which makes all of us laugh.

All along, if Costello’s perception changed, then he would understand what Abbot was saying. He would link the ambiguous terms to human beings and he then would know that “Who” is the guy’s name on first base. It is a classic. It probably did not need any explanation.

For our purposes, we are in the Gospel of John; in the famous Bread of Life discourse in John 6. Last week, at Chapter 6’s beginning, we saw Jesus feed the five thousand. Today, the people who have been fed, get up, notice that the disciples were loading up, getting in their boat, and moving out. They noticed that Jesus was not there. So, the groupies got in their boats and followed the disciples, presumably so that they could get to Jesus, who, if you recall from last week, they wanted to make king.

They follow the disciples to the other side and find Jesus there. How did that happen?!? Even before he is resurrected, he is able to be transported like Elijah, Enoch, and later like Phillip in Acts. So, they ask, “when did you come here?” What they are really asking is, “How did you get here?” They have an inkling that he did something. Jesus though, as usual, doesn’t answer their question, but zeroes in on their intentions. He says that they are not interested in him because of his larger mission, which is to glorify the Father, but they are interested in him because he can give them food easily.

If you recall, these are Jews. Jews have in their consciousness the wandering in the desert after the Exodus. Remember how they were slaves in Egypt, were hunted down by Pharaoh as they ran for their lives toward the Red Sea? Do you remember how Moses, at God’s request, commanded the Sea to part, and they scurried through as the waves came crashing down on their pursuers behind them? Remember that? Immediately after being removed from slavery, the people of Israel began to complain because there was no food in the desert. So, the Lord told Moses that he would give the people Manna, bread, from heaven. Every morning the Hebrews would collect the baskets full of bread until one day they opened their refrigerators in the desert and said, “Is this all there is to eat around here?”

One of the underlying things about this story and about Moses, is that they followed Moses only when he was able to give them a sign. If you recall also, when Moses left to get the Ten Commandments, the people went into a frenzy demanding a sign, so Aaron made them a golden calf to worship. As long as Moses provided something better, they followed him.

Jesus knows this. He is both God and man. He knows the motivations of people. He knows that people will follow someone as long as their needs are met. The people say, “We followed Moses.” Jesus reminds them that it is not Moses who gave them the bread from heaven, but God who did that. They should not have been so concerned about following Moses on this earth, they should have wanted and followed God. Jesus just left them because they wanted to make him their earthly king, knowing that they wanted to “follow” him so that he would “serve” them.

The evidence is right there like the Abbot and Costello sketch. Jesus takes five loaves and two fish and feeds 5,000+ of them with left-overs for another day. Jesus shows up on the other side of the Sea of Galilee without them knowing how he got there. They follow him and he says, “Do the works of God which is to believe in the One he has sent.” They say, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate manna in the wilderness…” He JUST fed 5,000 and transported without a boat! What did they not see?

“I don’t know” is on third.

These are the same folks who will go to a church and even follow God as long as their needs are met. Their focus is on this world. Their focus is on themselves.  They get the “God will take care of me” part of faith, but just can’t get to the next stage of faith which is the “God sends me to take care of others” part. Maybe it is not easy to believe in God when he gives manna and then quail from heaven to eat in the desert. Maybe it is impossible to believe in the One you wanted to make King because he fed the 5,000. What more do they need? What more do we need?

The healings, the jobs from nowhere, the assurances we will be ok, and the other ‘comforts’ we receive from God are wonderful. We should not overlook them, but the problem is, we often do overlook them. They should point us, not to the person who has healed us in the flesh, or the to the person who has given us the job, although we should be thankful they said yes. We should be thankful for the food, the job, the paycheck, the love, the life, the housing, the everything to the Father in Heaven.  Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his loving kindness endures forever!

We are not meeting [in our churches] [here] to glorify ourselves. We are here to glorify God. We are not living our lives just to build our own nest eggs and ride off into the sunset. We are living to honor God through service to him and service to his people. Serving God and others is not always, in fact rarely is it, without pain or discomfort. So, who do we praise then? According to the apostles who were just flogged by the leaders of the synagogues, we should give thanks to God for even the flogging!

The goal is to love God and enjoy him forever in the renewed heaven and the renewed earth, not to eat our fill or get healed of every disease. That focus is on the temporary. The focus we are to have is the eternal. We should always do the littlest of things with the long game in mind: we are going to be here when Jesus comes again and the Father renews heaven and earth without evil tempting us ever again. That is our reality. That is what we should see in the taking, blessing, breaking, and giving of the bread. We believe in the One who is sent because he is the One who is sent, not because he can give us something better.

As we go, we know that “Who” is on first, “What” is on second, and “I don’t know” is on third because we know. Although “because” is playing center field. Amen.

This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated.  My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2018.

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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.

Mark Kurowski, M.Div.

Executive Director

Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian