Saturday, July 20, 2013

LISTENING WITH 
A GRAIN OF SALT




Quote for Today - July 20,  2013

"You have heard of Murphy's Law. I follow Morton's Law - taking everything with a grain of salt."

Anonymous

Friday, July 19, 2013

THE PASSOVER
 

INTRODUCTION

The title of my homily for this 15th Friday in Ordinary Time is, “The Passover.”

Today’s first reading from the Book of Exodus talks about the Feast of the Passover. [Cf. Exodus  11: 10 to 12:14]

The thought of my homily is twofold:

First: if we don’t understand the Jewish Passover, we will not grasp the fullness of our Mass - and Jesus’ Passover.

Secondly: the Feast of the Jewish Passover is multi-layered and rather complicated and complex - therefore it makes understanding the feast of the Jewish Passover - as well as the Mass difficult.

MANY LAYERED

Let me begin with the idea of many layered.


 Last night I was at a small dinner party that honored Sister Elise from our St. Mary’s High School. She’s leaving at the end of this month.  It will mark the end of the School Sisters of Notre Dame being here at St. Mary’s since August 23, 1867. 

For dessert we had brownies. I picked up that  Sister Elise loves  this dessert. It had a big scoop of home made vanilla ice cream on top of the brownie - and then on top of that chocolate syrup. Being a diabetic I only had a cup of tea. Bummer.

Notice: this brownie Sundae had 3 layers.

Well, the feast of the Passover is multi-layered. It might be the running together of two or three feasts. It certainly celebrates for starters the escape and the saving of the Hebrews out of Egypt.

Well, to prepare for this homily I read different articles in Biblical Dictionaries and Biblical Commentaries on the title: Passover.

As I did that I could see how multi-layered the feast is. Scholars say in time it might have combined with agricultural feasts - that of new corn and new sheep or goats for example.  

As to the brownies covered with ice cream and then chocolate syrup, I don’t know the history of that dessert. I also don’t know if Sister Elise asked for it - if there is a story behind it - or if it is a favorite of the lady named Mary who served it. Where did she learn how to make it and what have you? I would rather have sat there and enjoyed all its layers. As a diabetic I was being refused communion with the “Yum Yum” sounds of delight around the table. I had to pass over the sugary delight.

Life can get complicated, eh?

THE MASS

So too our Mass. It too has a 2000 year history. It too celebrates many, many things.

It’s the feast of the Unleavened Bread.


We can hear in the Mass the words of the death of the First Born Son.

We can see in the Mass Jesus’ blood being sprinkled on the doorposts of our lives - so that evil and problems will fly over our homes.


The Mass connects us with Holy Thursday - and the Passover Supper that night.

It connects us with night - notice the mention of night in today’s first reading.  The Passover takes place in the darkest night.

It connects us with Jesus’ blood on Good Friday afternoon - being shed on the cross - and it becomes dark outside - as dark as night.

It connects us with the rush of life. We shoot into Mass - and shoot out again. I think we should be happy with folks here - and not complain about those who have to run. Today’s first reading has the message - eat with sandals on - and ready to run

Today’s gospel brings in the message to eat when we are hungry - and we can add the message, “May we always be hungry for the bread of life when we come into this holy temple.” [Cf. Matthew 12:1-8]


We can connect the Passover with the message at each Mass: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed  are those  called to the Supper of the Lamb.”

CONCLUSION


There is much more. This is multi-layered so we need more than one Mass to catch some of this. Amen.

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

Painting on Bottom: Bound Lamb or Agnus Dei, 1608 by Francisco de Zurbaran
NEIGHBOR



Quote - July 19, 2013

"Before going to the moon, how about visiting your neighbor next door."

Anonymous

Thursday, July 18, 2013


CONVICTED

As I shook his hand I knew
he wouldn’t shake his conviction.
He wouldn’t change his mind.
He was he and I was I -
and I wasn’t going to
change my mind.
I knew that. He knew that.
I knew he wouldn’t come back
to another meeting like this.
And as he walked away
I thought of other people
who have passed out
of my life like this.
Is it the way I say things?
Is it my convictions and
my inability to change?
He made me feel
like a kid selling lemonade
on the street - and it was
a cold day - anyway - and
everyone was walking by.
Being a priest can be tough stuff.
Better: being a person can be rough.
Best – being a Christian means
rejection - walking away - and the cross.
Wait a minute! Think for a moment.
Didn’t you know that? And besides
that, maybe he’s right and I’m wrong.
Hey, you never know.


© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2013

SIGN IN PLEASE

Just after I walked in,
I put a check next
to my name indicating,
“I am present.”
Then they began
the meeting
with a roll call.
I said, “Present.”
So I was surprised
when a piece of paper
was passed around
during the meeting
to sign one’s name
if one was present.
I signed – this making
it the third time I said
“I am present.”
But it had become
a blatant lie.
I was absent
from that meeting
from beginning to end.
And from where I was sitting,
so too were most of the
people in the room.

Has this ever happened to you?

“Ooops. That hurt when you said,
‘By the way, I've been 
at a meeting that you ran.'" 


© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2013

LEAF

I was seven - just seven - just realizing -
what it means to be alive - getting
glimpses - unconscious glimpses -
that toy guns run out of caps or water -
and have to be refilled. I was just starting
to notice caterpillars and mosquitoes -
and outside my window so many
green leaves were waving to me in the wind.
All this happened in October.

Well, one day looking out my window -
I felt delight in noticing that all those
green leaves had slowly become gold,
orange, tan, red, yellow flags. While
watching all this I saw a leaf falling -
slowly spinning  down to the ground.
Wow! I ran outside to find it. Impossible.
Yet I found it. I picked it up
and brought it into our house.
I put it on the brown bureau in the
back bedroom my brother and I shared.

The next day, I could see
it was dead, really dead, dried, crisp -
just like very thin toast. Was outside
for a while and when I came in I noticed
my mother threw it out - without asking.
I guess falling, dying, drying up and
being dumped without my permission
is something I have had to learn
over and over again.


© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2013
   

THE BRIDGE

The bridge between us
across this silent room
is only 10 steps.
Yet, it seems,
we’re not willing
to pay the toll
to cross the bridge
to meet and be
sweet to each other
on the other side.



© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2013




SOUNDS


A wrench falling down onto the cement garage floor –
causing a pinging, clinging, lingering sound -
that lasts for a moment till it hides in the corner.

A piano … clink, clink, clink … the same note keeps
slinking out an open window 2 houses down 
            and into mine ….
Practice, practice.... Practice another note…. Please!

A bird keeps squeaking … shrieking … speaking  some very angry screams …. another bird must be invading her territory …. Too many discordant sounds can                      cause some very definite dislikes.

Just then I hear the front door opening …. A click….
I hear the sound of your step on the stairs.
Hurry, hurry! Sounds of you are not enough.


© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2013






IMPRESSIONISTIC PAINTING

Sitting here all alone - gazing down at two 
tall, thin, glazed glasses, with light pink
and blue straws – each straw slanting
the other way - away from me ….
Did I do something wrong?
Summer coolers … just sitting there -
one on a paper napkin with lipstick on it ….
I’m watching ice cubes melting ….
I’m seeing  thin streams of water crawling
down the outsides of the glasses ….
Strawberry – lime – orange –
cool summer drinks - just sitting there
on a bright white table cloth - covering
a heavy black metal clumsy, clunky table …
the kind that makes hard to move sounds …
grunts - when pulled along heavily
on the concrete ground. I’m  watching
the whole scene as if -  as if it was being
painted  - and this whole scene was a canvas - 
and I’m in the painting  - sitting here all alone
in the upper wrong side corner - all by myself?
Did I do something wrong?
My eyes followed a rich green grass lawn
that  lead down to the dock. Oh ….
I didn’t tell you. That’s where everyone was -
down there by the sail boat that just arrived -
carrying the newly wed couple back home
to see some of the family - some of the
old friends back here - back home -  those
who couldn’t make the wedding. It was
the scene - the painting I always pictured
would be mine with her. But, he isn’t me.
Did I do something wrong?


© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2013

THE HEART 
OF THE  MATTER 

The air conditioner is letting me know
it’s working. It’s pushing, pushing.
It’s keeping me cool on this muggy
hot, humid day. It’s not quiet.

The car motor is letting me know
it’s running. It’s turning, turning.
It’s keeping me moving on this trip
back home. It’s not quiet.

However, my heart is not letting me know
it’s working. Yet it’s pumping - pumping.
It’s keeping me going this day so far.
Thanks God. But both of you are quiet….


© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2013

IN THIS HOUSE 

Quote for Today - July 18, 2013


IN THIS HOUSE …
WE DO REAL
WE DO MISTAKES
WE DO I’M SORRY
WE DO SECOND CHANCE
WE DO FUN
WE DO HUG
WE DO FORGIVENESS
WE DO REALLY LOUD
WE DO FAMILY
WE DO LOVE


Comment: 

I spotted the above words painted right on a wall in a house here in Annapolis yesterday. 

Mary Joan Foley, one of our Eucharistic Ministers, and I were visiting one of our parishioners to bring her communion and the sacrament of the sick. 

As I was sitting there "I saw the handwriting on the wall." 

Actually they were printed. 

I don't know the author's name - or the history of the comment - because the lady was losing it. 

It was all in capital letters with some words bigger than others. 

That last word LOVE might have been the biggest - but words like REAL, FUN, HUGS and HAPPY were also bigger. 

I didn't have a camera with me and I don't have a cellphone, so I took out a piece of paper and wrote down the words - the old fashioned way. 

This morning I looked up on Google, "Wall Sayings" and there it was - not the house I was in - but on a wall in some house somewhere.

Go for it.


GREAT! 

Go for them.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

PERFECT CHURCH

Quote for Today - July 17, 2013

"Why look for a perfect church?  We would feel out of place in it."

Anonymous

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A CRY 
CAN BE THE BEGINNING 
OF REDEMPTION



INTRODUCTION

The title of my homily is, “A Cry Can Be the Beginning of Redemption.”

When was the last time I cried?

Ooops! I’ll be talking here about the cries of sadness - loneliness - aloneness - hurt - being trapped - feeling stuck - caught - rejected - in the need of redemption - in the need of being saved - in the need of being delivered from a horror or harm. A cry that is a scream for “Help!”

FIRST READINGS

Yesterday and today’s first reading from the Book of Exodus triggers these thoughts. Yesterday we heard in the last sentence: “Pharaoh then commanded all his subjects, ‘Throw into the river every boy that is born to the Hebrews, but you may let all the girls live.’” [2:22]

Today we heard about Moses - 3 months old - no longer being able to be hid - being put in a basket - made of papyrus and pitch and bitumen. And Moses is put into the waters …. In Hebrew the word used for basket or container is TEVA. It’s a  box - coated in clay.

Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg - a daughter of a Rabbi - a teacher of the Torah - in her book, Reflections on Exodus - says the basket is in the form of a clay brick - and pharaoh’s daughter - sees the floating box, basket, ark, brick, and opens it. Inside is a baby and the baby cries.

And the author of Exodus gives the profound message: “On opening it, she looked, and lo, there was a baby boy, crying! She was moved with pity for him …. “

The title of my homily is, “A Cry Can Be the Beginning of Redemption.”

The baby’s cry got to her. She knew it was a Hebrew baby boy. She knew the edict - let the kid die - but she was moved with pity for him - and immediately set in motion a way to save Moses.

The rest is history.

EVERY PERSON

Every person is a box - a basket - a baby in a clay brick - floating on the waters of life  - and once opened - we cry.

In fact, if we don’t scream for help, we are not going to be saved.

How many times have we heard the Bible words, “The Lord hears the cries of the poor”?

How many times have we heard Psalm 130, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord”?

De Profundis….

In that Psalm we Redemptorists have our motto and our reason for being Redemptorists: “With him there is fullness of Redemption.” Our goal is to hear the cries of the poor - the screams of the stuck.

Prayer is that scream.

Ministry is hearing that scream - listening to it - being with the screamer.

Therapy is that scream. It is attempts to spell it out and spit it out.

The Human News: open up any person or every person - and there is a scream. It’s in us - from the womb to the tomb. It’s the ultra sound. It’s the Primal Scream in each of us.

What are your sounds - your deepest screams - your hurting hurts?

When was the last time you cried/

A parent left us at 11. A teacher or a priest or someone abused us at 7 or 13. A person whom we thought loved us - rejected us. Down deep that scream, that cry, has many sounds and forms.

In the middle of the tears you often hear the word, “unfair”. Or I thought things were going to go this way and they went that way.

The Pharaohs in our lives aborted us - hurt us - wanted us to disappear.

There is a Spanish proverb: Quien bien te quiere te hara llorar. [Whoever really loves you will make you cry.”

A cry can save us. A cry to God is prayer. A cry to  another whom we trust can be what saves us.

MOSES

Moses had a horrible scream - and as we continue with the book of Exodus we’ll find out that he had a horrible voice and speech pattern - and yet God called him - and he knew it - yet he knew how to scream - cry to God for help - but his words were hard to grasp.

The beginning of Redemption in any slavery  - addiction, drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, gambling, anger, laziness is that first step: the cry for help. It’s the beginning of redemption.

CONCLUSION

Tennyson in his poem, In Memoriam [1850], writes,

      I AM A CRY

“But what am I?
An infant crying in the night:
An infant crying in the night:
And with no language but a cry?”

Cry for help. Run for help.

Jesus hears the cries of the woman at the edge of the crowd who touches the edge of his garment.  Jesus hears the cries to Pharisees whom he challenges. Jesus hears the cries of widow who lost her only son. Jesus hears the cries of Lazarus in the graves.


We Redemptorists like to stress Mary is a symbol of Perpetual Help - which pictures Jesus scared and running to Mary - this same woman also called Our Lady of Mount Carmel - today’s feast - also Our Lady of Mercy. We know her message in the Gospel of John. Go to Jesus - the new Moses. Reach for Jesus floating on the waters to us as a baby - open him up. Hear his cries. Voice your cries. Grow old with him - moving from being a baby to becoming an adult. Amen.
HANDCUFFS



Quote for Today - July 16, 2013

“In every cry of every man, 
In every infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind forged manacles I hear.” 

William Blake, London

London

Monday, July 15, 2013

FOOTPRINTS



INTRODUCTION

The title of my homily is, “Footprints!”

Today - July 15th -  is the feast of St. Bonaventure. I’ve always liked his message about the footprints of God as a way to discover God. So that’s what I would like to preach about today: footprints.

Last week I was at lunch with a group of priests and someone mentioned St. Bonaventure’s feast was coming up next Monday.  That’s today. This one guy mentioned that what grabbed him most about St. Bonaventure was the “What if’s....” God knows the “what if’s of our life” - the things that didn’t happen. What if I married so and so instead of so and so?  What if so and so didn’t die - and lived? What would have happened for the rest of history because of that person  - and on and on and on? What if…..?

I didn’t remember hearing that when we were taught the theology of St. Bonaventure. I've never really thought about that. So it will have to go into my future homework to be done file.

FOOTPRINTS

What stands out for me about Bonaventure is his writings about footprints.

In his book, Journey of the Mind to God, he has 3 ways one journeys to God. The first way is the footprints. They tell us that someone was on the beach. Well creation is God's footprint! The second way is us human beings. We have a mind and we can reason. We are different from the animals. This can lead us to realize we are created in the image and likeness of God - because we can reason and figure. The third way is abstract. It’s going beyond the physical - to metaPHYSICAL - to the being of God.

I like #1. It’s the most obvious. I was never good in logic or metaphysics or the abstract. I’ve seen footprints.

If there are footprints in the snow or the sand, I know someone was there.

If there is a heart carved into a tree with the initials J.L loves B.K. then we know someone was there.

If there is graffiti on a  highway overpass, someone with a spray paint can was there.

It there is trouble, there are people around - as we heard in today’s first reading from Exodus 1: 8-14, 22 - as well as in today’s gospel from Matthew 10: 34-11, 1, with the family anger in the lives of peoplel in the early church when people became Christians - causing fights in the family.

So we see effects. They tell us that something caused them. St. Bonaventure says we are surrounded by the footprints of God. 

To me, the two most famous footprint stories are that of Robinson Crusoe and that of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on the moon.

So if anyone has doubts about God - or doesn’t believe in God - point to the Moon or the stars and if they don’t believe in God as a creator then don’t bother arguing or discussing this with them. It’s tough putting graffiti on a highway overpass, but people do it. Who put the stars up there - as well as a moon to land on?

What I like about the Robinson Crusoe story is that Daniel Defoe points out how Robinson changed as a result of that footprint. First it was fear - big time fear - making his castle stronger.  He meditates on fear and hope, love and hate, life. Then his life changes when he brings another person into his life - Friday - even though he treats him as an inferior.

CONCLUSION

To me people change when another - a spouse - a child - children - enters into one's life.

God’s fingerprints, footprints, markings are everywhere.  We can bring this God into our story - into our life. 

This could cause panic. Maybe people intuitively reject allowing God into their way of seeing life, because they think He’s going to be a downer when it comes to life. They are right in that God can bring change and new life.

If you are into the babysitting world or caring for children, tell them about God - and go by way of footprints - that God is here.

Talk to kids. Point out the beauty of sunsets, sunrises, waves and lakes and rivers and monarch butterflies - eagles and owls - nests and mountain caves - they all tell us of the wonder of God.

Pray: Open up our eyes O Lord - to see your footsteps everywhere.
BOREDOM




Quote for Today - July, 15, 2013

"Somebody's boring me; I think it's me." 

Dylan Thomas [1914-1953]


Sunday, July 14, 2013

THE GREAT RIP OFF


A funny thing happened at St. Mary’s Church - Annapolis Maryland - on July 14, 2013.

It happened at the 12:30 and 5:30 Sunday Masses. People opened up the Breaking Bread Missalettes in the benches only to notice the readings for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time were missing. Someone ripped out pages 193 to 196 - actually 2 pages - print on both sides.

“That’s funny!” or “That’s strange!” or “What happened here?” went through the different minds of the different people at the different Masses in the different benches that Sunday.

“Well,” different people thought, “I might as well listen to the readings since they’re not in the books.”

But as they did that, they noticed that different people were looking around - especially at people next to them - or in front of them - or even right behind them - because it seemed everyone was trying to figure out what happened. By the end of the first reading, it was quite a distraction.

Some people just shrugged their shoulders. Some people stiffened their shoulders. Some people cursed inwardly - like getting a library book and one discovers someone ripped out a few pages - and the story was really getting interesting - or someone marked up a book. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Ugly. And in Church mind you!

Well, as a result, sorry to say, some people found it difficult to pray that Sunday Mass.

What happened? Who did this? What’s going on?

Engineers and logical types - carefully examined the missalette they were holding - and if possible any other book still on a bench or in the book holders below the benches - to see if other books were altered. It was obviously a rip off or a rip out.

After Mass - on the way out, many people reported to the priest who had the Mass, “Father someone ripped out the pages of today’s readings from the Missalette.”

The priests for those two Sunday Masses at St. Mary’s at first were confused. “What?”

People repeated themselves, “Someone ripped out the pages for today’s readings in the missalettes .”

By the twentieth person the priest said, “Call the pastor!” - one of whom was the Pastor. He’s smart.

Different people called the pastor, but being Sunday - they only got the parish answering machine - which led to more frustration. Some found his e-mail address on line - and reported, “The Great Rip Off.”

Word got around the parish by Tuesday - even though it was summertime - what had happened.

Now for the rest of the story….

The priest - an old guy in his 70’s - who had the 10:30 Mass said that if you grasp the 3 readings for today - you have it all.

He pointed out that the first reading from Deuteronomy 30: 10 to 14 said that Moses said, “It’s not that complicated. God’s command is not mysterious or remote.  It’s not something you have to go up into the clouds or across the sea to discover. It’s right here - already in your hearts and minds - you just have to do it.” “Just do it!”

He pointed out that the second reading from Paul to the Colossians said that God is invisible, but Christ is the image of the invisible God - and you’ll find everything in him. He holds everything together. Get Christ and get him big.”

He pointed out that the scholar of the Law in today’s gospel from Luke  wanted to know the secret of inheriting eternal life. Don’t we all? So Jesus  threw a question back to him. “What’s written in the Law? How do you read it?” 

And the scholar answered, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

And Jesus told him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”

The old priest then said, “Well, the scholar knew Jesus was correct - but he also knew how difficult Part B was -  loving one’s neighbor as we love ourselves - so he hit Jesus with a what if - as if to say, “Do you have any idea who my neighbor is - and what he or she is like? In other words, he tried to justify himself - and get out the Part B obligation - loving one’s neighbor.”

“Thank God the scholar in the story did that,” the old priest said, “because as a result the world got the great Good Samaritan Parable.”

“How many people,” the old priest said, “have been helped down through the ages - thanks to the scholar of the Law asking Jesus, “Well, who is my neighbor?”

“How many people down through the ages changed their plans, opened their wallets, stopped their carts or cars, to help a person who was stuck?”

The old priest also told a funny example. He said, “You’re not going to believe this - but last Monday I was up in New Jersey for a picnic at our retreat house there. Well, there was also a group of young priests - mainly diocesan priests - making a workshop there at the same time.”

He continued, “Well on the dinner line the night before, I found himself next to a priest who looked familiar. I introduced myself to him saying, ‘I met you somewhere.’ And the young priest, ‘Yes, you look familiar. Maybe it was here. I was here two years ago for another workshop.’”

The old priest said, “The next day, Tuesday, I was on the lunch line this time and I heard this same priest talking to someone about a trip he took to the Holy Land in the year 2000.” 

The old priest continued, “Ten minutes later I realized that’s where I met this guy. I was on that same trip with him. It was a Priest Retreat - run by Father Steven Doyle - a Franciscan - and the young priest was with me on the bus. I think he was from the mid-west.”

“Now, here’s where it really gets interesting,” the old priest said. “We were in the bus  on that same road from  Jerusalem to Jericho. It was    the opposite way from today’s gospel. We were going from Jericho to Jerusalem. Well the young guy said to me that he was stuck for money - buying too many souvenirs for the folks back home. Would it be possible to lend me some money and I’ll pay you back when I get back  to the states?’ So I gave him a hundred dollars.”

And the old priest laughed. He said, “God, you have a great sense of humor and a great sense of timing.  It’s the story of the Good Samaritan again - who gave the Inn Keeper two silver coins and told him - if it’s costs more - I’ll will cover your costs the next time I come this way.”

“Obviously, as to the young priest, I let it slide about the money. That was a long time ago, and not wanting to embarrass him, I didn’t go over to  the young guy to tell him  where I remembered him from.

Then the old priest concluded, “These 3 readings contain it all. If we had these 3 readings in our wallets and read them from time to time - what a difference our lives would be.”



Well, evidently, many people discreetly ripped those 2 pages out of the missalette at that 10:30 Mass - thinking nobody would notice The Great Rip Off.



* Painting on top: Vincent Van Gogh, 1899, The Good Samaritan after Delacroix [1849] painting - below.






WELCOME

Quote for Today - July 14,  2013

"If we want the perfect host to take us into his eternal home when we come to knock at his door, he has told us himself what we have to do: we must  be ready to open our own door to the earthly guests who come our way."

Jean Danielou, The Lord of History, [1958]


Comment: Read this quote in the context of today's gospel from Luke 10:25-37 - especially the opening question from the scholar of the law: "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"