Saturday, September 8, 2012


Quote for Today  September 8,  2012

"Women and elephants never forget an injury."

Saki [Hector Hugh Munro 1870-1916]


Do elephants really remember?

Do men ever remember?

Do elephants forgive?

Does anyone forgive and forget?

Do men cry?

Friday, September 7, 2012



The title of my homily for this 22 Friday in Ordinary Time is, “Comparisons: The Old and the New.”

Today I’d like to briefly reflect upon three things: comparisons, the old and the new.

We think and deal with all three every day.  

All three  have their pluses and their minuses.

All three have an, “It all depends.”


I thought about all three as I read today’s gospel [Luke 5: 33-39].

The Scribes, those who could write, the educated, and the Pharisees were always finding fault with Jesus didn’t like his “new!” They compared what he was saying with their “old”.

They weren’t happy campers.

So Jesus gives a great comparison. Look at people faces at a wedding and look at people’s faces when it’s a religious season of fasting. Compare faces. My disciples are celebrating life. I’m the bridegroom and this is a time of celebration.

Then he talks about new cloaks and old cloaks.

You don’t cut a piece off a new cloak to patch an old cloak.

Nope! Old goes with old and new with new. You find that out when you wash either.

It’s the same with wine: there’s new wine and there’s old wine. There’s new wineskins and there’s old wineskins. Don't mix them up - otherwise you'll have leakage.  Old people in old skin must have laughed when Jesus said this!

I don’t know wine, but I’ll accept what Jesus is saying.


How are you with the new and with the old? For starters the answer has to be, “It all depends.”

For the sake of transparency, I’m old. I’m 72. Do us old folks tend to favor the good old days and keep saying, “It ain’t like it used to be”?

I prefer a new car to an old one. I’m not into collecting antiques.

I like the new High Definition TV monitors. I don’t like the new translation of the prayers into English.

When I go out to eat, I like what I like. I remember going on vacation in the late 60’s with my mom, dad, and my sister Peggy. We went out to a restaurant every evening - 6 nights straight. 6 nights straight I got veal parmesan. I like veal parmesan - and I was comparing how it came out in 6 different restaurants.

Somewhere along the line I also discovered Cobb Salad - so if I see that on the menu, that’s what I’ll get.  Cobb Salad has a plan: bacon bites, bacon bites, bacon bites, hard boiled egg slices - ummm!

Some people when they eat out get the same thing every time; some people listen to the waitress or waiter giving the house specials - and often risk taking something they have never had before.


A beautiful woman walked into a room and I said to her husband, “Who’s better looking: this gal or your wife?”  He paused, smiled and said, “No comparison.”

Perfect answer.

Let me go deeper than skin.

Comparisons can crush. Comparisons can challenge us to move it and be more creative.

We can miss out on a decent veal parmesan meal or Cobb salad, because we’ve tasted better.

We can sit there in traffic or at a dull sermon, because we’re comparing what we’re experiencing with the best or a traffic free trip.

Do people with long faces - non-looking like they are at a wedding faces - crush themselves because they are comparing being in the present moment with a non existent other moment?

A wedding is not a funeral.

Be where you is, because if you be where you ain't, then you ain't where you is. 


The title of my homily is, “Comparisons: The Old and The New.”

Take a few moments when you have a few moments to reflect upon these 3 realities: comparisons, the old and the new.

Compare your life to the life Jesus calls us to. Compare both. Feel the call to the New and go for it. And in time, the New will become old hat. Amen.


Quote for Today - September 7, 2012

"Oh, a troubles's a ton, or a trouble's an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it,
And it isn't the fact that you're hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it."

Edmund Vance Cooke [1866-1932], How Did You Die? Stanza 1

Thursday, September 6, 2012


If Jesus lived to 90, what would he have been like? If Jesus lived to 90, how would the story unfold?  If Jesus lived to 90 what would have been his observations? How different would his comments, his teachings be from what he told us at 33?

We don’t know the answers to these questions, but we can know what he knew at 33 by reading the gospels.

One thing I think Jesus would say would be, “The World Was My Classroom,” so that’s the reason - for this theme for this homily.

I love to read the gospels and then ask what happened, what did Jesus see, to trigger what he just said.

I think he walked his world, worked in the family carpenter shop, did village and home repairs, went to the synagogue, stepped back in the market place and observed what he observed,  learned what he learned.

He must have seen a pearl merchant searching for fine pearls - found one - sold all he had and bought that pearl at any price.

So too the man he saw who found a treasure in a field - pooled all his money - and bought that field.

He must have studied grapes and saw that one farmer pruned his vines - and had greater grapes and greater wine - and another vine grower didn’t prune and his yield was nothing like the first vineyard owner.

He must have heard about a vineyard owner who hired workers all day long and paid each one the same amount - because everyone needed a days’ wage like every worker does.

He must have had a sense of humor when he called Matthew a tax collector to give up everything to follow him - and Matthew did. In fact, he threw a party for Jesus to meet his friends - and this really taxed people and their take on Jesus.

He must have sat down near the sea shore and watched how hard working fishermen were - and said, “These are the types I’m going to need. These are the types I’m going to call. They know where the fish are and they are the ones who try, try and try again - even when their nets come up empty.

He must have heard about a woman who lost a coin - searched everywhere for the lost coin, finally found it and threw a party in celebration - without worry about the cost in coins.

He seems to have liked parties and celebrations, bread and wine - lots of bread - lots of wine.

He must have seen some people praying to be seen and heard - and some people who loved hiding in the back or behind pillars - so as to be near Our Father.

He must have heard about lost sheep and lost children and lost lives.

He must have walked by a cemetery and then walked by the Pharisees and said to himself, There is no difference. Both are dead, It’s just that these ones  - who look like white washed tombstones - haven’t been buried yet.

He must have seen mothers and fathers giving their lives  - giving their body and blood in sacrifice - for their children.

He must have seen a rich man dressed up big, big time - a man who didn’t see the poor man at his gate -  and then Jesus laughed when he saw the birds of the air or the flowers of the field - and laughed - because birds of the air and the flowers of the field as far more beautiful - than all those best dressed folks strutting down Fashion Street.

He must have realized when he watched folks in the market place, “I’m sure there are people who are like merchants. One is stingy, exact, a penny pincher, and the other is totally generous - and there’s a message in here somewhere. Amen.  He must have said many, “Amens” as he realized, "The World is My Classroom. Amen! Amen! Amen!"


* Homily at St. Mary's - for Thursday 22 Thursday in Ordinary Time © Andy Costello, Reflections 2012


Quote for Today - September 6, 2012

"As Gregory of Nyssa pictures it,
He entered paradise bringing with
Him His bride, Humanity, whom

He had just wedded on the Cross."

Jean Danielou

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Quote for Today - September 5, 2012

"That is not the question."

A line in Shakespeare's play, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act. 1, Scene 1, line 227


Could you say to someone when they ask you a question, "That is not the question"?

What would happen next?

How many times have you been asked a question and you know or you sense or you guess the other is really is trying to get at something else?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012



The title of my homily for this 22 Tuesday in Ordinary Time  is, “Demons. 


Yesterday we began the Gospel of Luke as our weekday gospel reading. Here we are at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry in Luke. Yesterday we had the coming out of Jesus in the synagogue in Nazareth Today’s scene has Jesus going into the synagogue of Capernaum. This time the crowd doesn’t get angry at him. The unclean demon in this man in this synagogue acts up. He yells out that he knows who Jesus is: the Holy One of God. [Cf. Luke 4:31-37]

To understand the Gospels more, to understand the scriptures more, to understand life more, we better have an understanding of demons.

Making a very broad generalization, all cultures up to the Age of Reason - accept demons - evil spirits - the evil eye - unknown forces - that force or seem to push people to do dumb things - as well as hurt themselves and others.

In today’s society, we don’t talk about demons like we hear about them in the gospels. Yet if we read the papers, watch the news, we hear story after story of hurtful things people do to other people.

And if we know ourselves, we know we sometimes do something we regret . We resent doing something, but we did it. And we say things like, “I don’t know what got into me.” “I was acting kind of crazy last night.”

People can become crazed, dazed, dumb. Sometimes they can do something in a split second that ruins their life. They say, “Something possessed me.”


I always thought that the movie The Exorcist [1971] did our faith a lot of good.

Of course the firm story was a bit much too much with the head twisting and the throwing up pea soup scenes - but if you watched the movie as a parable - it had some scary and powerful messages.

The one that grabbed me was when the mother of Regan, Chris MacNeil, comes to the priest and asks, “How do you go about getting an exorcism?” I thought it was interesting that the mother is called “Chris” - a name very close to the name “Christ” and the priest name is “Damien” very close to the name “demon”.

Father Damien Karras who is also a psychiatrist - when asked to do an exorcism says: “I beg your pardon? Well, the first thing I'd have to get into a time machine and get back to the 16th century. Well, it just doesn't happen anymore, Mrs. MacNeil since we learned about mental illness, paranoia, schizophrenia. Since the day I joined the Jesuits, I've never met one priest who has performed an exorcism. Not one.”

Even though exorcisms are rare, even though we have a better grasp on mental sicknesses, chemical unbalance, a host of other understandings of the human personality, there is still a need to articulate what the wisdom in the scriptures have come up with.

In today’s first reading from First Corinthians 2: 10b-16, Paul says we can life a natural life or a spiritual life.  We could add that a person can lead a demon filled life as well.

Faith and prayer can help. Counseling can help. Psychiatrists can be very helpful - and often necessary.

And this man in today’s gospel reveals what the other characters in the crowd don’t know or get. He says, “I know who you are - the Holy One of God.”


So the Christian message is that Jesus is central. We know who he is and he can help us every day. That’s our faith. Christianity is more the following - connecting - with Christ - in a relationship - more that thinking our religion is just us with a list of truths we follow.

 Next, we are not a Christian who refuses medical treatments - saying we’re relying totally on God - so we will not use modern medicines.

If our children or our people are having mental problems - we need all the help we can give them - and there is help at times.

And finally there are observations in the scriptures to this day that can really help us. In a homily for today’s readings, entitled, “Evil Spirits”, by Father Joseph Donders, gives a good example about what it means to be possessed by an evil spirit - what it might mean.

He was working in Africa and he  tells about a 14 year old boy in Kenya who got a bike. He was a poor street kid. He fixed it up a bit - but he needed gears. He brought it to a bike repair shop. When he went to get his bike, he didn’t have any where near the money to pay for it. The shop said if he didn’t find the money in about 2 weeks, they would confiscate it.

To get money, he stole a radio from the school. He got caught - couldn’t sell it - and when he handed the radio back to Father Donders he says, “Father, don’t think I stole the radio!” The priest asked him, “If you didn’t, who did,” He answered, “The bike.”

Then Father Donders said, “He was right. The bike became an obsession, like an evil spirit mastering him.”

Grasp that, you’ll get  a better grasp on understanding the scriptures whenever Jesus and demons are mentioned.

 PICTURE  ON  TOP: Jesus healing the man in the temple at Capernaum.

Quote for Today - September 4,  2012

"Wisdom travels by oxcart."

Yiddish Proverb


List three key wisdom learnings you have picked up so far.  If possible spell out what triggered the learning, the experience, the hurt, the disappointment or what have you.

List three proverbs that you use often - that you utter or mutter them - in a déjà vu situation.

Do this homework with another. Listen. Dig deeper. Listen to each other.

Monday, September 3, 2012


Quote for Today  - Labor Day - September 3, 2012

"Avoid working with a worker who quarrels with his tools."


Sunday, September 2, 2012



The title of my homily for this 22 Sunday in Ordinary Time, B,  is, “Watching My Own Nose!”

Unconsciously we human beings watch other people’s noses without knowing we’re watching their nose.

We are!  We do that. Body language is often louder than mouth language - more subtle - more unconscious.

We’re watching other people’s noses …. I’m up here preaching and you can see my nose. If you watch very carefully - you could spot my nose rise a tiny bit whenever I put someone down in my homily - ever so subtly - trying to paint others as stupid or sinful -  wrong or irreligious. In fact, for this sermon, which provides a lot of opportunities for nose lifting, we could put those tiny yellow golf pencils in the benches with a piece of paper and ask all of you to watch the preacher very carefully and every time he lifts his nose in judgment or put down, you mark a check on that piece of paper. Then on the way out, you’d hand those papers to the preacher.

And surprise, every time - you’d notice one, without knowing it, your nose is lifted a tiny bit as you say to yourself, “Aha, I got him!” Check.

So I’m telling myself for starters - to keep an eye on my own nose.  Yet, surprise, it’s very difficult to see one’s own nose - except in a mirror.  And, there is one other way: I can sort of see the side of my nose if I close one eye and go cross eyed. I discovered that yesterday while working on this homily. It’s an interesting topic. I began thinking about all this after reading today’s gospel. Hey I had to come up with a homily for this Sunday - so I don’t know if all of this is true. Check it out for yourself. So be aware of your nose!


This week keep your eye on your own nose - and catch yourself when your nose goes up in the air - any tiny little bit.

To misquote Jesus - or to twist Jesus’ words a bit, “”We see the lift in our brother or sister’s nose, but don’t see the twitch of our own nose.” [Cf. Matthew 7:3-5.]

Sometimes it happens with a silent sound - an “uh!” that is ever so slight - sort of like this, “Uh! [lift head a tiny bit].  Did you see my head go up?

The inner give-a-way is when we inwardly say about another, “Uh, who does she think she is!” or “Look at him. Uh! A bit uppity there aren’t you?” or, “Thank God, I’m not like her or him!”


Does that sound familiar? That’s the sound of the Pharisee in all of us. That’s the sound of the Pharisee in the Gospels.

Jesus loved the Pharisees - but he loved them enough to challenge them to humility. Lower those noses. Stop being nosey and wanting everyone to do what they were doing to impress others on how holy they were.

I would suspect, subtly they wanted mess up by others - because mess ups made them look better.

So in today’s gospel, they are presented as the ones who washed their hands  - purifying, cleansing, washing, washing - because that was something you could see - who did and who didn’t.

And when they prayed, they prayed perfectly - to be seen - to look holy - to look clean.

But Jesus knew the human heart. He knew that’s where the action is. Today’s gospel reading from Mark ends with Jesus calling the crowd together and saying, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”

These inner urges, temptations, inner feelings - these nasty thinkings - can’t be measured - they can’t be used for one upmanship on another. I can’t lift my nose and say, “I only had 3 thoughts of licentiousness and two feelings of envy today, and you had 16 of licentiousness and 234 of envy, “Aha! I’m totally more holy than you - you arrogant greedy sinner!”

And so we pick externals to show we’re holy and better than others.

Bummer. Can’t put our nose up on the inner stuff - so let’s stick with who comes to church and who’s dressed churchy-like or what have you.

But I’ve had heard people make comments like: “Her nose is out of joint!” and “He has his nose up in the air again.”

Once more, no wonder they crucified Jesus - he knew the human heart - and could really challenge us to be holy - really holy - really whole - the way God made us.


Today’s second reading is from James. We have him for 5 Sundays in a row here. He caught Jesus’ tone and teaching big time - so listen these 5 weeks for nose lift stuff - especially.

Today he tells us to be doers  of the word - and not hearers only - otherwise we’re deluding or fooling ourselves. Then James stresses what religion really is: caring for the orphans and widows in their afflictions and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

The world has a whole list of possible nose lifts - on how to make oneself better looking than others. Keep your eye on them. They are the ones we use to get out nose up.

One of mine is cell phone users. They are everywhere - using them all the time - driving, walking, and we have to tell folks to silence them before Mass - and when I see someone get interrupted at a meal, I think they are nuts and up goes my nose. I’m better than you.

And when I say I don’t have a cell phone - noses go up at me for being a Neanderthal.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself - but James has some great nose lifters in next week’s second reading - stuff that happens in church.

Yet his stuff happens everywhere. It’s life stuff that take in comments and comparisons at and about weddings, parties, cars, office location, body shape, age, weight, clothes. You name it. There’s lots of stuff that can give our noses exercise - even making fun of people who get nose jobs or other plastic surgery jobs.


So that’s my homily for today: “Watching My Own Nose.”

Notice I’m only taking about noses. I’m not talking about touching one’s nose with one’s hand. Some body language folks say putting one’s hand to one’s nose while saying something can be an indication that lies are happening. That’s the stuff of Pinocchio fame. Today I’m just talking about that tiny nose in the air lift that goes with the inner sin of pride.

Now how many nose lifts did I get off in this sermon?

I’ll be expecting about 3 people to slip me a piece of paper after Mass with at least a dozen checks on it. 


Quote for Today - September 2,  2012

"Keep your nose out of another's mess."

Danish Proverb