Saturday, March 25, 2017

March 25, 2017


God slipped into this world -
through Mary - light sliding
under a door - in a small
village - named Nazareth - not
too far from the Sea of Galilee.

The Word of God whispered
by the Holy Spirit - took flesh
and began slowly  to become
a baby - Jesus - Savior - born in
a stable. Mary was his Mother.

Jesus took his time - watching,
learning, growing in grace, wisdom
and understanding - till he finally
announced to the world, mercy
and mystery and the meaning of life.

The Light of the World continues
to slip and slide under doors - into
the dark corners of our minds and
the dark continues pushing sin - but
the dark has never put out the Light.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Friday, March 24, 2017

March 24, 2017


When we stop being bothered
beware! We think arthritis in
one’s left hand or right foot
is painful - worse, much worse -
is arthritis of one’s conscience.

So when we can’t stand b.s.
or baloney constantly coming
out of the mouth of the person
in the podium or the pulpit,
rejoice that we are still bothered.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Thursday, March 23, 2017

March 23, 2017

Everyone has a wish list.

I wish my dad ….
I wish my mom ….
I wish I lived in ….
I wish I didn’t say that ….
I wish he didn’t say that ….
I wish I had more ….
I wish we did ….
I wish things didn’t happen this way….
I wish I didn't have to put the dog down ....
I wish I was better in Math and ....
I wish God would ….
I wish life didn’t ….
I wish my ….
I wish I could see all the good that ....
I wish I had the ability to….
I wish I knew 10 years ago that ….
I wish I realized ….
I wish I filled my bucket with ....

Everyone - yes everyone - has a wish list.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March 22, 2017


It started way back when their high school
daughters and sons entered their senior
year of high school - probably much sooner.

“Have they decided yet on their top college?”
“What are there three top choices?
“Is there any scholarship money?”

At some point there is the scream, “Enough
already!” And that’s just the questions. There
is the leaving, the missing, the cost and more.

©  Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Once upon a time - a wise woman - in her early 60’s - but she looked like she was in her late 40’s - because she was a serious walker - well she came up with a million dollar idea.

She was at the beach - one beautiful summer evening with her granddaughter - and the two of them were just sitting there - finishing off -cold giant vanilla milk shakes. They were sitting on those hard wooden benches on the boardwalk - looking out at the ocean. But sometimes hard wooden benches are not even felt - on one’s butt - when you have a beautiful ocean right in front of you.

And the waves that evening were big and beautiful - crashing and splashing - like Schiller’s Ode to Joy at the end of Beethoven’s 9th  Symphony - or Louis Armstrong singing, “What A Wonderful World.”

Grandma said to her 11 year old granddaughter - Deborah - who was aware of everything - “What’s that man doing down there with the ear phones and some kind of stick with a plate on the end of the stick?”

“Grandma - haven’t you ever seen someone with a metal detector? He’s down here every evening searching for coins in the sand that people lost that day.”

“You’re kidding?”

“Nope. Just watch him. He’s getting rich by the minute. Look, there he goes. He probably just found another quarter. Notice how his backpack is getting bloated.”

“I just got a great idea Deborah - a million dollar idea.”

“What is it grandma? Tell me your secret. Tell me your million dollar idea?”

“I’m going to invent a hurt detector.”

“Great idea grandma. Great idea. Tell me more. I hurt sometimes.”

“Well Deborah, you know I’m a psychiatrist?”

“I knew that grandma. You’re a shrink. I’ve heard people talk about you behind your back and everyone says you’re great at what you do.  You have people coming to you with all kinds of problems, right?”

“Yep, that’s what I do.”

“I’ve noticed my two older sisters often talk to you when they have problems - and you  - well you just listen, listen, listen. Nice.”

“Well, Deborah, sometimes I use the old couch method of helping people - not all the time - but sometimes - especially when people don’t seem to be telling me -  what’s bothering them.”

“You have a couch in your office?  Do people ever fall asleep.”

“Yes to your first question. And yes to your second question.”

Deborah then asked, “Okay grandma, pretend that I’m a psychiatrist. Close your eyes and tell me all about your hurt detector?”

 “Okay, everybody has deep down hurts in their life  that they can’t deal with, but they keep them in - and hurts are covered with sandpaper - when they rub someone the wrong way.”

“Well, I’m going to have a person lay down on my couch. I’m going to take out my stethoscope and show it to the person I’m with - calling it my “Hurt Detector”. And like the man there with the metal detector -  I’ll move it around their skull and ask them, ‘Where do you hurt?’ Or, ‘Tell me about something someone did to you that you can’t forgive - or something you did, that you can’t forgive yourself for?”

“Their eyes will be closed as I move my stethoscope around the top of their head. But,  I’ll be watching their face very, very carefully.”

“As they are thinking, I’ll see their face or their closed eyes, squint or squeeze at certain moments. I’ll spot hurt signals from their minds - showing up on the skin  of their face.”

“Actually I do this already, but now I’ll have a gadget - which I’ll call my ‘Hurt Detector’. I hope I don’t get sued. I’ll run this by a few people.”

“Then I’ll say - when I see them wince or flinch. ‘That one. Tell me what you were thinking about just then.’ And just then - they’ll tell me about some hurt memory. It will be a divorce or a teacher or a coach whom they thought was unfair to them. Or they will tell me about something they did dumb to hurt someone else somewhere along the time line of their life.”

“Then, and this might surprise you Deborah, but I’ll tell them about Jesus’ great message of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not for the other person for starters, but for the person who can’t forgive or be forgiven.”

Deborah said, “You’re going to give them religion. I thought you were a psychiatrist and not a priest?”

The answer once more is ‘Yes’ to your first question and ‘Yes’ to your second question.

“Deborah,” her grandma said, “everyone needs to learn how to forgive and be forgiven - at least 77 times in their life time as Jesus put it. That means a lot of times.  Otherwise the hurt messes up one’s soul and body - and that’s where millions in health care will be saved. The stuff of the soul can hurt the stuff of the body - so that’s why I said this is a million dollar idea.”

“Interesting grandma.”

“Yes,  Deborah, thanks.”

“You’re a good listener, Deborah. Maybe one day you’ll be a psychiatrist.   When thinking about forgiveness - people always put things out there - into God and into others.  Jesus and my hurt detector will get people finding out that it’s what’s under the sand of our soul - or what’s in our inner room as Jesus put it, that counts.” 


NOTES:  This is a story I wrote last night for a reflexion on the gospel for this 3rd Tuesday in Lent, Matthew 18: 21-35.   © Andy Costello, Stories, 2017

March 21, 2017

Who said Jesus didn’t have a sense of humor?
He must have smiled when the last wine became
the best wine - even though it was watered down.
He had to smile when the first invited to the feast
ended up without the feast - because they didn’t
show -  and the last - those found in the outback
and in the hedgerows - ended up in the first row.
The poor, the hungry, the lame made it to the dance.  
Life is funny, with Jesus, if you learn to laugh at life,
especially if you say yes to his invitations to be there.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Monday, March 20, 2017


We need heroes  - male and female.

We need examples - male and female.

We need models -  male and female.

It seems that the word, “heroine” has dropped out - and that our heroes can be male and female.

Just walk into any home, business, organization, government building, church - and we’ll see images of heroes - people who are examples and models of the values of that organization or that family.

Statues, pictures, images of great people sit atop of horses and pedestals in our parks and museums and government buildings - as well as churches.

Today we celebrate Joseph as hero.

He was the model husband, father figure, protector of Mary and Jesus.

In the scriptures he gets little press, but the press that he gets, says he was righteous.  Since that sometimes has negative connotations, I prefer saying, “He got it right.” It says he was a dreamer. He was a presence. He was a protector.

In the history of the Church - he comes down as a hero.  He is an example of a good worker - a carpenter.

He is a dreamer - and I wonder if this is a way in the scriptures of connecting him to the great Joseph - the Master Dreamer - as he is described in the book of Genesis. That Joseph gets a lot more press - and a lot more information about his personality.

Most Catholics have images of St. Joseph - always off to the side - background security for Jesus and Mary. I say off to the side also, because in many Catholic Churches his statue or picture is off to the side.  We’ve all heard people talk about the St. Joseph side of the church and Mary’s side of the church. Here at St. John Neumann - as well as St. Mary’s - St. Joseph is on the left - facing the front of the church and Our Lady of Perpetual Help on the Right facing the altar.

In our time Joseph has become best known in popular myth and meaning as the statue to bury upside down in your yard - or flower pot - if you want to sell your house. I’ve heard people say, “It works.”

I don’t po po that, because I think religion needs humor - the ability to laugh at all kinds of stuff.  Mine is to laugh at bishop’s hats and cardinal’s outfits.

I rather see Joseph as the patron of fathers as presence and protector.

I rather see Joseph as worker - a great stress when the communist party was stronger in Italy and Europe.

I rather see Joseph as the Patron of a Happy Death - I assume and assumption based on Joseph being older than Mary and dying somewhere in there before Jesus’ public ministry.

What’s next?

In reading the work - the writings of Elizabeth Johnson - who is a Sister of St. Joseph - from around my time at OLPH Brooklyn - taught by the Josephites - I see she explores more and more the feminine and mother side of God.  Pope John Paul the 1st, Albino Luciani, spoke about that as Cardinal and a tiny bit as pope. He only lasted a month. We are made in the image and likeness of God - male and female he made us.

All my life as priest I have wondered about the Catholic Church’s great stress on Mary - and I wonder - wonder - that’s the word I’m using. I do not know what I am talking about when it comes to this. But I wonder if because we stress the masculinity of God - the femininity of God has to show up somewhere. Protestants think we see Mary as God. We don’t. But I wonder about all this at times. I see the feminine side of God in Mary and I Hope we all see God in all of us - male and female.

So if we explore the feminine side of the image of God, will Joseph get more stress - on the masculine side?  
I don’t know.


Ooops I neglected to say more on Joseph as hero - the title of this homily - maybe not. He is someone we look up to. Amen.