Saturday, March 28, 2015

March 28, 2015


My life, my house, my parents, my brother and sisters, discovering Santa Claus was like the stork, playing baseball for the Bay Ridge Robins and I sat on the bench - except for one inning  the whole season, going to my first baseball game  to see the Dodgers playing at Ebbets Field and  seeing Jackie Robinson in the summer of 1947, Coney Island - the summer of 1948, what my first year in high school was like,  how I felt when people made fun of a cake I made and nobody would eat it, Bliss Park [a park we went to in Brooklyn as kids], being a priest, failing my first drivers test, passing my second drivers test, getting a book published, diving off the high board for the first time in Sunset Park Brooklyn, seeing the movie Doctor Zhivago, a day I had 2 years ago, missing the taste of Butter Almond ice cream - now that I'm a diabetic, not being able to understand what you're feeling right now as well.

                                                   © Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015

March 27, 2015


From time to time we nag ourselves,
“One of these days, I gotta get me 
to an art museum. A little culture …. 
I need some more culture.”

In the meanwhile we can close our
eyes and see our ten top paintings
or open our eyes and see all the
beautiful sights surrounding me.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

March 26, 2015


Sitting there with a fat person,
it hit me that they are carrying more than
pounds. Me too. I keep remembering
what an overweight friend once told me. 
“Don’t talk to me about weight
and a great diet you have. Don’t
you know that fat people are beating
on themselves every day about their
weight and other things and keep 
telling themselves, “Oh my God, 
I gotta go on a diet! I gotta go on a diet.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March 25, 2015

        Annunciation moments ....

        Some wonderful, so marvelous to hear:
                       a pregnancy, a birth, new life,
                       a marriage, new wine, a new beginning.

        Some terrifying, so devastating to hear:
               a death in the family, a loss of faith,
               a divorce, crushed grapes,
                       young children involved.

        Some unsure, unknown, unclear to hear:
               yet Mary said, “Yes, be it done to me
                       according to your word;”
               and Jesus said, “Father, into your hands
                       I give my spirit.”

 © Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


The title of my sermon for today is, “Oscar Romero: Having Convictions and Having Courage.”

Today, March 24, 1980, in the evening, Bishop Oscar Romero was shot saying Mass in a San Salvador Carmelite sister’s chapel – part of a clinic cancer ward where he lived.

It was a funeral Mass for Dona Sarita, the mother of a friend – also connected to an Independent newspaper.

In our life time we might see the beatification as well as the sanctification of Oscar Romero.

Thanks to Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict,  the cause for Oscar Romero has advanced. And Pope Francis stresses how he sees Romero as a prime inspiration in his life.

If you saw the movie Romero or read anything about his life, what’s your take and what’s your inspiration from his life?

To me the main message would be to have the courage of our convictions.

When made archbishop of San Salvador, the rich and those on the right were very happy. Oscar Romero didn’t rock any boats – so those with power were happy – especially the upper military.

He began to rethink everything – especially after a friend Rutillo Grande – a priest was murdered – then others, then others.

He started to name names – on the radio – of those who killing the poor, catechists, nuns, those who spoke up and spoke out.

To me – a country like ours – is sometimes a beacon on a hill or a light on the mountain.

However, some of our behaviors make me ashamed of our country. A country like ours that started as a revolt against taxation and freedom – didn’t side with the poor of El Salvador and Nicaragua, etc. A country like ours that almost split in half over freedom for blacks who were slaves – etc. etc. etc. didn’t back the poor and the colored of South and Central America.

He wrote a letter to Jimmy Carter, president of the United States about not sending money to arm the military in San Salvador even more.  He was against  the School of the Americas – here in the U.S. at Fort Benning, Georgia – where many of assassins of so many people in South America were trained. Check School of Americas in Google for more information about what I’m getting at.

After his change, Romero became a marked man. 

Questions are out there now – whether he was killed because of political reasons or religious reasons.  This brings us to the issue of faith and justice.

I know priests who spoke up on these issues could be blackballed and snubbed.

I know that there are those in the Vatican who are not happy with Oscar Romero and his cause – in becoming named a saint and a martyr.

Pope Francis told his opinion when he declared Oscar Romero a martyr this February3, 2015

I’ve always heard that the money is to the right. There are life issues that some people don’t back and withdraw their money.

There are many ways to read the scriptures – to be challenged or as W. C. Fields said when seen reading the Bible – looking for loopholes, just looking for loopholes.

Today is the day Oscar Romero was shot in the heart – right at the consecration of the Mass.

I often wonder what are the issues I’m called to speak up and out about.

I like to be liked and I rather have paper in front of me that is smooth and not abrasive – like sandpaper. Here we are in Lent and it ends with Jesus being executed for speaking up – where do I need to be challenged? That’s what the life of Oscar Romero says to me so far.
March 24, 2015


At some point in everyone’s life, everyone realizes
that Dostoevsky was right: the history of the world
is War and Peace

Hot wars are obvious. We can hear shells bursting
and exploding – guns firing – and fear and fire and
fury are screaming and yelling all around us.  

Then comes peace – then comes parades – then
comes treaties and paper signing and dancing in
the streets.

At some point in everyone’s life, everyone realizes
that sometimes there is a cold war going on  - a war
between two people in a family, in a relationship –
and when it’s me against you – or you against me –
then we’re in foreign territory. There is stealth drones
dropping verbal bombs and comments – and past
mistakes on the other. Then we wonder in smokey
aftermath, “Why do we do this to each other?” Why?

Then once more the hope for long, quiet, lasting peace
starts to appear in our soul. It’s then we finally realize
the reality and the beauty of the old words, “Let there
be peace in the world and let it begin with me.” Someday….

© Andy  Costello Reflections, 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015



The title of my homily for this Monday in the 5th  Week of Lent is, “Rock Throwing.”

Sex sells. Sex opens eyes and ears. Sex triggers questions and wonderments. Sex is how we got here. Sex is in today’s First Reading and today’s gospel.


In today’s first reading from the Prophet Daniel we have the story of Susanna and the two dirty old men – both of whom are Peeping Toms with lots of lust. [Daniel 13:41ff.]

They try to seduce her. They can’t pull it off. They fabricate a tale about Susanna. She goes to trial. They try to get her killed. She ends up being saved by the prophet Daniel – and the two men end up being executed.

Great story – that has lasted down to this day!


Today’s Gospel – obviously paired with the first story for today. It has the woman saved by the Prophet Jesus and the rock throwers put down their weapons of woman destruction.[John 8:1-11]


You heard both stories.  What is the message for you?

I like the message from the gospel: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

I hate the joke about a stone flying through the air – and hitting the woman and Jesus saying, “Mother.”

But paradoxically I do like the joke because it tells me that people know the story about not throwing stones and the story about Mary being without sin.

I also like the comment that those who put down their stones are the oldest at first. That tells me that sins – and then forgiveness – is understood the older we are – hopefully.

We can also add that women’s rights are improving – slowly around the world – compared to the women in both these stories. Yet still read in the papers and women being beaten and killed for sexual behavior and men get away with similar behavior.


A side point.  I have learned from listening to a lot of people – that the one person who doesn’t drop their stone – is ourselves. 

Many people hit themselves their whole lives for mistakes made – especially sins of the flesh.


Drop the stones.

Stop and drop judging others.

Be understanding.
March 23, 2015

Slices of light slid long -
along the light gray board porch,
gliding through the gray wooden
slats along the sides. All the porches -
along the street seemed empty – silent ….
Right now everyone must be at supper 
or still not home…. But later on this
summer evening while walking up 
and down this street I will hear outside voices – 
up there on those porches –  up the steps – 
up the lawn – up another set of stairs - neighbors - 
folks chatting, without being seen – just voices – sitting in the dark - folks enjoying a hot summer evening and the clinking of glasses of ice tea, lemonade, water. If we all stopped to voice our moods: we'd say, "Lord, it's good to be here. 
Lord, it doesn’t get any better. 
This is Holy Communion. 
These are moments of grace.
These are slices of life – slices of light."

© Andy Costello, © Reflections 2015



The title of my homily for this Fifth Sunday in Lent [B] is, “Sir, We Would Like to See Jesus.”


This request happens in the opening scene in today’s gospel.

The scene tells us a lot.

It tells us some Jews were Greeks or some Greeks had become Jewish.

It tells us that people had heard about Jesus and wanted to meet him.

Some Greeks had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Feast.

Once more Andrew was the go to guy.


Today’s gospel story triggered a story about something I heard on a TV talk show or read during the Vietnam War protests here in the United States. I looked this up to fact check, but couldn’t locate this incident – but I know I’m close to the facts.

President Nixon was elected president in 1968.

Two of his inner circle, John Ehrlichman and H. R. Halderman – because of their German names – and because they tried to isolate the president – became known as “The Berlin Wall.”

As the story that I remember goes, two young men from somewhere our west drove all the way to Washington D.C. to protest to the president of the United States about the War in Vietnam. They went to the White House demanding to see President Nixon in person.

They voiced their way all the way up to John Ehrlichman – who met them in person. They were extremely agitated and extremely demanding. Ehrlichman found them annoying – but they wouldn’t give up in their desire to see the president to voice their protest in person.

Nixon said to get rid of them.

Ehrlichman in the back and forth with the president finally said to the president, “Just see them and get them off our back.”

Nixon said, “Okay, bring them in.”

They were lead into the Oval Office or wherever they met and got seats right in front of the president – face to face.

They couldn’t believe they got that far and they froze. They panicked. They couldn’t say anything. They became tongue tied. If I remember the story correctly, the president had to stand up and go over to both these young men and try to coax out of them just what their complaint was.

Mission accomplished – with much fear and trembling.

I often wonder how these 2 men tell their story for the rest of their lives.

Today’s gospel doesn’t tell us what happened with the Greeks. Did these Greeks ever get to see Jesus? Were Jesus’ comments to Philip and Andrew or to the Greeks as well?

Those are the two similar stories.


For a homily, I’ve often thought, what I would think, what I would feel, what would I ask, if I ever got to meet Jesus face to face.

I’m sure we’ve all heard about the story from St. Teresa of Avila who asked God how come you give your friends – so much suffering. Jesus responded, “That’s the way I treat my friends.” And Teresa said back to Jesus, “Well, maybe that’s why you have so few of them.”

I think that’s one of those legendary type stories. I also think many of these so called stories along these lines are legendary stories – and private revelations – many of which are simply legends – so that’s one of my questions when I die and meet God.

About two weeks ago we were having a conversation at  breakfast and the topic was: what would be our 10 top questions to God after we die?

“Why mosquitos?” I hear that question a lot of times.

“God, was there a plan and how did I do?”

“Why Hitler? Why did you let Hitler live that time he almost drowned?” That’s a story about the kid who saved Hitler from an icy river when they were kids. Moreover, that kid later became a priest. Is that story true?” And what about the story about Hitler’s mother – Klara – wanting to abort him and a doctor talked her out of it? Is this stuff true?

Thinking about questions people have for God, got this I thought: Perhaps that would make a good homily.  Then I thought that I always said to myself: get a default homily. Just in case some time you get stuck – someone gets sick - and need to come up with a homily very fast, you can grab  your default homily.  Ask everybody what are your 3 top  questions you’re going to ask God when you die? Line them up as a default homily.

So I said start working on that. I’m sure I can let that question sit there on the edge of my brain or consciousness for the next year or so – and while driving or being at something that’s boring or what have you, jot down questions for God.

When I do die, when I do come into God’s presence, what will I really do? How does that work? Will I become totally speechless – like those 2 guys who finally got that interview with President Nixon?


Maybe a good question to ponder would be this scene in today’s gospel?

If I came up to Jesus – here or hereafter – what would be my 5 top questions.

Looking at those questions, would be a good self-test as well as being –very helpful.

Try it, you’ll find yourself refining answers to that question from time to time and that  can be very helpful.

So a key first step would be to jot down your first 3, 5 or 10 questions you’d ask Jesus when you see him.

A key second step could be to read the gospels and check out all the scenes in the 4 gospels when people came to Jesus with questions and see if they would be your questions.

Today’s gospel is from John and this is one of the key literary forms John uses in his gospel. Unlike Matthew, Mark, and Luke, who have many people meeting Jesus, John only has a few key characters who approach Jesus: Andrew, John the Baptist, the Greeks, the Woman at the Well, Nichodemus, the Hungry Crowd, the man sick 39 years, Martha and Mary, etc. What are their questions? Are any of their questions like your questions?

My mom and dad, are both long gone. As I grow older I hear more and more questions I want to ask them.


Dealing with all our questions we’re sitting with – can be a great meditation – especially our key questions to God and to Jesus Christ.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

March 22, 2015


Have you had your Susan Boyle moment yet?

Will you have to wait till your death – when 
someone gives your eulogy and surprise
everyone finds out they never really knew 
who you were  - when you were - in our midst?

Or will it be that moment when you said 
something really funny or very clever 
or you gave us all a great insight or a song? 
Surprise! Surprise! We never really knew you.

Or was it your spouse - in the 8th year of your
marriage who said, "Woo, wow, Lucky, lucky, me?"

Have you had your Susan Boyle moment yet?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015