Wednesday, August 16, 2017



The title of my homily for this 19th Wednesday in Ordinary Time is, “Face to Face.”

Today’s first reading says that Moses had a face to face relationship with God.
What would that be like?

For starters, I can only take it on face value - that the author of today’s first reading from Chapter 34 of Deuteronomy is saying that Moses’ relationship with God was like a face to face relationship between two people.

It’s eyeball to eyeball. It’s intimate.  It’s close….

However, where it differs is that one part of the relationship is a human relating to God in a human way and God relating to one of us - in a human way. The scriptures are also  saying, nobody else but Moses had such a relationship with God.

I would think Adam and Eve had an equivalent relationship; with God.  They walked with God in the cool of the evening.

Of course this is poetry, this is imaginative writing, this is an author’s way of trying to get us to see a relationship with God  in a very human way.

The Book of Exodus is telling us that Moses face began to radiate, shine, as a result of his face to face relationship with God.

I would think that the impact of any great relationship with another person - should show up in our face, in our eyes, in our step, and body movement.


Let me jump to today’s gospel - while keeping in mind this idea of having a face to face relationship with God. [Cf. Matthew 18: 15-20.]

The gospel tells us that sometimes we don’t get along with each other or with the community. The gospel tells us that sometimes we have to go face to face with each other - with folks we have trouble with. The gospel has the hope that brothers and brothers and sisters and sisters - the whole community - that we’ll all work to live with each other in peace, that we’ll pray with and for each other, that we’ll respect each other - face to face.

Who are the people in my life that I should be in communion with face to face with? Whom should I be having a face to face relationship with because we want to get along better with each other.  When was the last time we were looking - really looking into the eye of another? 

Jesus said we can tell a lot by the eyes. I think we know this, but ….

Maybe we are neglecting - our brothers and sisters - walking right by them every day.

I know I need to hear this message.


As I think about all this, I know I need to think more about communication and communion with others.

I think that I think better, when I’m trying to say something to another - and I don’t look them right in the eye - face to face. - because that sometimes gets in the way of what I’m trying to communicate or figure out. I’m not sure about this - and the whole process of communication. It’s a lifetime tennis match.

How about you? How do you communicate best? How about cell phone to cell phone, e-mail to e-mail, smart phone to smart phone. Is there better communication going on when people see each other on their phones?

A test would be: what color eyes does the other have?

I remember I took an old photograph of my mother from way back and brought it to Macy’s to have them enhance it. I wanted them to remove a person in the picture - so it would just be a picture of my mom. So I wanted to fix it up, have it framed  and then give it to my mother for Mother’s Day. It was a sepia colored photograph.

So I went to the counter and the lady asked if I wanted the picture colored.  I didn’t know they could do such a thing.

The lady at the counter looked me the eye and asked, “What color is your mother’s eye.

I had no clue.

So she said, “I’ll make them yours.”

To be honest,  I  didn’t even know what color eyes I had.

I gave the picture to my mom.

When my sister Mary looked at it, she said, “Mom doesn’t have green brown eyes.”


For starters, when I’m looking at some one, I need to look at them face to      face, see what color eyes they have.

And - Ooops! Does I know what color eyes God has?
August 16, 2017


Life is both sukha and duhkha….
Pleasure and pain ….
Sweet and sour ….
Easy and difficult ….
SU [good];  DUH [bad] ….
KHA is the axle hole on your cart.
SU is a good fit; DUH is a bad fit.
How to live with both as we
roll down the road of life - now
that is the question both
Buddhism and Hinduism ask ….
What are the things you are 
doing that cause sukha and what
are the things that cause duhkha?

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Always take the stairs,
if possible….

Okay, it’s slower. And
you might miss out on a chance
to chat a few blurted words to
someone on the elevator.

But still, always take the stairs.
You’ll  learn a lot more - like
life is steps - and steps teach
things like - a day at a time.

Always take the stairs, if possible….
like in conversion and recovery  -
as we see in Alcoholics Anonymous -
and several spiritual systems.

Life takes steps. It’s a staircase
to many floors - to many doors -
and sometimes we think we’re there,
but we’re not. There are more doors.

So, always take the stairs
if possible….

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017


The title of my homily is, “Mary’s Blurts.”

I assume that I have to make this sermon for this feast of the Assumption shorter than usual - because this Mass calls for the Gloria, 3 readings, the Creed, a collection - and some of you have to get to work.

I assume that Mary was like the rest of us - in that she inwardly and outwardly - blurted out - tiny blurts - tiny - one, two, three or more words -  short sentences  - shorter - much shorter than tweets - during her life.

I assume she thought and spoke in Aramaic and I only know the few Aramaic words in the gospels that Jesus spoke, “Talitha  cum” , “Ephphatha”, “Mammon”, “Hosanna”, “Boanerges",  “Cephas”.

So I imagined some of Mary’s blurts in English - and to make this homily practical - think of what your blurts are  - and what you imagine Mary’s blurts were.

So here are my assumptions for what Mary’s blurts would be.

“Uh oh!”

“What does this mean?”

“Full of grace?”

“A compliment? Okay, now comes the request.”

“Be a mother?”


“Okay - be it done to me as you wish.”

“No room in the Inn? What were we thinking?”

“I don’t believe this.”

“Oh my God, so many innocent babies killed.”

“But we don’t know any Egyptian.”

“It’s time to go exit, exodus, go home.”

“Nazareth!  It’s good to be home again.”

“Jerusalem, again, now what?”

“Jesus,  where are you?”

“Why did you do this to us?  We’ve been looking for you for 2 days now.”

“Where did he get this wisdom?”

“They have run out of wine.”

“Listen to him.”

“Me blessed, no? You, yes if you do the will of our Father.”

“That’s sword number 5. Two more to come….”

“On no, they’re going force him to carry his cross up this way to Calvary.”

“Oh no!”

“Come Holy Spirit.”

”Oh my God.”

“My soul magnifies the Lord.”

- O - O - O - O - O - O - O -


Painting on top: The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1898. It can be found in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

For these imagined annunciations or blurts by Mary I followed the scripture stories - especially in Luke and Matthew.

August 15, 2017


I assume we all die.

Otherwise this would be a very complicated and congested planet - with a lot of people to take care of.

I assume we all wonder if there is anything after death.

I assume that Christ rose from the dead.

I assume Mary, his mother, also rose and was assumed into heaven - by, because, through Christ the Lord. 

Now those two assumptions are mighty big assumptions - but as St. Paul said, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised , then empty is our preaching, empty too, your faith.” [1 Corinthians 15: 13-14]

Mary’s assumption into heaven is not in the scriptures specifically. And it took the Catholic Church till November 1st, 1950, to declare that Mary was assumed into heaven - body and soul - our hope and Christ’s promise.  Pope Pius XII was the pope who made this declaration of faith. [Cf. Munificentissimus Deus, Pius XII, November 1, 1950.]

The Catholic Church is not saying that Mary is God - or a Goddess - something some people assume we think and believe. The Church is saying because of Christ - we assume by faith that all of us can live forever - after we die - and Mary models this for all humans - she being human not divine. 


Painting on top: Francisco Botticini, The Assumption, 1475.

Monday, August 14, 2017



The title of my homily is, “Lessons From A Life:  Saint Maximilan Kolbe.”

We can look at any person’s life and ask: “What are the lessons I can learn from this person’s life?”

I just did a funeral up Bestgate Road a big: at Lasting Tributes. Like every funeral, it got me thinking.

I think every person at a funeral or a loved one - sort of sits there and answers that question. What have I learned from this person _______.

Today, we’re commemorating the life of St. Maximilan Kolbe who died this day in Auschwitz - August 14, 1941.

When we look at a holy person’s life, we can ask that question, “What does this person teach me?”

Since I used the number 3 yesterday in my homily, let me take 3 lessons from Max Kolbe’s life.


The first thing people think of when it comes to the life of Max Kolbe, it’s that he gave his life for another human being.

A prisoner escaped from Auschwitz where Max was being held prisoner. He was one of the many priests who were arrested by the Nazi's. The commandant lined up all the inmates from Cell Block 14 and picked out 10 to be executed. One of the 10 was Franciszek  Gajowniczek. He screamed out that he had a wife and 2 sons who needed him. 

At that Max Kolbe stepped out of line and said, "I want to go instead of this man. I am alone. I am a Catholic priest."

And they allowed this request and 47 year old Max Kolbe was thrown in a cell with 9 others who were being starved to death.  

After 10 days 3 were left, so to get more room a doctor went into their cell and injected them with carbolic acid.

As Jesus said, "Greater love no one has than to lay down their life for their friends."


The second thing that hit me was the question of how a specific spirituality hits and forms and impacts a person.

Max Kolbe was a Franciscan.  How much did Franciscan Spirituality impact the life of this priest? 

Those of you who are Third Order Franciscans can answer that question.

Those of you who have made Jesuit retreats or went to Jesuit schools, how did their spirituality hit you?

We have Redemptorists in this parish. How does their spirituality inform and impact you?

Great questions.


My third learning is this: if we are for someone or against someone, we select stuff about that person to criticize them or to build them up.

At the time of Max Kolbe’s process for canonization as a saint, some people brought up the issue of anti-Semitism.

Yes there are some digs at Jews in the newspaper his group put out, but…. They faced this question in the investigation by Rome whether to declare Max Kolbe a martyr and saint or what have you.

I still hear those same “money hungry” comments about Jews till today. Is it jealousy, ignorance, prejudice, or what have you?  

If someone is in favor of Max Kolbe people bring up an organization he was very much part of stress how they helped immigrants, 2/3 out of which were Jewish.

Moreover Francis Gajowniczek - the man whose life - he substituted himself for - was Jewish.


The title of my homily is,  “Lessons From A Life:  Saint Maximilan Kolbe.”

In the meanwhile, we can also look at our life - our legacy - our values and our behaviors.
August 14,  2017


Did you ever wonder what word
or phrase was used before someone
came up with,  “Tipping Point”?

How did Shakespeare or the songwriters
or the world’s scriptures sing it or say it
before Malcolm Gladwell booked it?

Waiting for the dawn, looking out the
window, watching for the phone to
ring or sing or say, “I’m coming home.”

Or do all of us have a breaking point -
a boiling point - when we’re steaming -
when we burst - and the fireworks go off?

We realize we can’t give a sign of peace.
Instead we scream,  “I’ve attended a
Critical Mass and I’m out of here.”

The learning curve sometimes becomes
a circle and our song is, “Déjà vu” or
“Sorry! I guess … you’ll never learn!”

Then again, sometimes it rains in the
desert.  We get an insight. Surprise,
it’s Easter Sunday morning and I’m it.

 © Andy Costello, Reflections  2017