Saturday, April 18, 2015

April 18, 2015


There’s the food police - watching,
commenting on what people are eating.

There’s the clothing police - watching,
checking out what people are wearing.

There’s the thought police - watching,
listening to what people are saying,
writing, preaching - ready with rocks
in hand, Letters to Editors in mind
or to authorities, heresy hunters,
wanting to nail to the nearest cross
those who think differently.
Uh oh! I better be careful. I better
not offend the thought police.

© Andy Costello Reflections, 2015

Friday, April 17, 2015

April 17, 2015


She wanted to tell me
her life story - so I dropped
in to see her. I listened.
I heard her. I saw her
smile as she spoke. A week
later she died. Was that
the same smile I was looking
at as I was looking at
her face in the casket?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015

April 16, 2015


                                                  A    K
                                                                         L  O  
                                 E                                                    K
                  A       H   
                     T  T
                                        B           S
                                           I     D

                                                  O                  I
                                                        F          A
                                                             T   E

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April 15, 2015


Bone beneath the skin,
skull beneath the scalp,
death you are always
stalking, walking with me.
Is there anything I can do
to outwit and outlast you?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015



The title of my homily for this 2nd Tuesday after Easter  is, “Shout Outs”.

Sometimes in a homily - I give a so called, “Shout Out” and sometimes someone in the back of church says after Mass, “Thanks for the shout out.”

At first I didn’t know what a “shout out” was.

Now I do.


In a homily, I might nonchalantly say, “It’s wonderful to meet people who volunteer for the ESL program – the English as a Second Language Program - here at St. Mary’s.” Or I might say, “I’m amazed at all the people here at St. Mary’s who volunteer to serve in the St. Vincent de Paul Society. I open the door to go down to the office to check for a Baptism on a Monday evening or a Wednesday afternoon and the corridor is filled with folks needing assistance. They  come here for help and our people are helping them.”  Then someone says after Mass, “Thanks for the shout out.”

I know it helps a parish or any organization to publicly thank the ushers or collection counters or coffee and donut volunteers – or to have on the walls of a business or school or hospital – “Employee of the Month.” – “Teacher of the Week” – “Nurse of the Month”.

Did you notice how neat the floors and the flowers here at St. Mary’s are this Easter?


Today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles is a shout out for all  these folks in the early church who shared their time, their resources and their capital for the needy.

At the last part of today’s first reading there is a wonderful story – which is a shout out for a man named Joseph – who sold a piece of property that he owned – and brought the money and put it at the feet of the Apostles.

Down through the centuries - I’m sure this reading from the Acts of the Apostles – Chapter 4 – verses 32 to 37 – especially this story about this guy named Joseph –– has urged folks to give to the poor and the needy.

Then the gospel gives a shout out for a man named Nicodemus who comes to Jesus in the night looking for answers. I assume it’s a shout out for all those with faith questions to come forward – even if they have to do it on the sneak – or in the dark.

Today’s gospel is also a shout out  - a warning about what can hurt us – the snakes around us that can bite us. John quotes Jesus telling everyone to see their demons, their snakes, their problems, their addictions – hang them on a tree – scotch tape them to a wall - keep them on a refrigerator door in their mind - and keep one’s eye on them.

Did you notice on TV – these ads – with their powerful anti-smoking ads?


Shout outs work – even though there could be hesitation to use them.

To build a church or a hall, money is received and plaques announcing pledges and donations go up on walls. They are shout outs. So too stained glass windows named for people or families. Anyone involved in fund raising knows this. It keeps the money coming in – but we know Jesus also said, “Don’t wave your pledges like a flag with your name on it in public. Some do that. They have had their reward.”  Yet we also know they encourage others to do the same. Life can be complicated and a paradox.


The title of my homily is, “Shout out’s.”  Maybe the best comment – and attitude would be: “Make one’s good works get other people to also work to help the hungry and house the homeless – and forget about oneself.”
April 14,  2015


Approaching another, getting closer.
I’m almost there - near - at the edge of you.
Yet I’m still not sure  - if what I say -
will be taken wrong - so to be honest,
to be VERY  honest, I’m wondering -
just how - exactly how you are going to react,
so I back, back, back away from you. Sorry.

Approaching another - almost there-
Yet you seem scary at times. Yet I know
you’re neither an alligator nor a Rottweiler.

Approaching another …. Yet  - yet -
yes another yet and then another yet.  
I’m still not sure whether you want me 
to approach or avoid you or what?

Approaching another…. You seem different.
I’ll say to myself, “I’ll wait for another day,
but  this has been going on for years.”
So I approach you - like I approach
a rose bush - watching out for the  thorns -
wearing work gloves - being cautious.

Approaching another…. I stop suddenly
and approach another at the coffee break
and then I head back to my desk -
okay,  sometimes I stop to ask
about a balloon tied to a chair -
what’s that all about and then again
sometimes I don’t - lest it take time so
I tend to  back off or back down - almost….
It seems I need more work on my approach.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2014

Monday, April 13, 2015



The title of my homily for this 2nd Monday after Easter is, “I’m All Shook Up.


I'd like to say a few words about understanding the Bible a bit more.  One of the steps in getting and grasping the Bible is when it shakes us up.

There might be a fresh insight in a section of the Bible that gets us to  scratch our head and say, “I don’t get it.”

It’s when the words we hear and the words we read seem confusing.

We find out that donkeys and snakes don’t talk – and the sun doesn’t stop moving – and we say, “Uh oh.” It’s then we say, “Well, if this ain’t true, then how do I know what’s true.”


In today’s readings we hear about people all shook up.

In fact at the end of today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles – it says the place where they were, shook. Was that an actual earthquake or was that poetry or metaphor?

That’s what the Holy Spirit does. The word for Spirit in Hebrew is RUAH – meaning breath, air, wind.

The word of God should challenge us. Often it begins with confusion – and then when we get the word – when the wind intervenes – we shake in our being – then comes the challenge – and then the call – to be bold with the Word of God.

And then comes upset from others.

That’s what we’re hearing in these Post Easter texts.

In today’s gospel we hear about Nichodemus – who comes to Jesus in the night – because he’s scared – and he’s confused.


Many of the gospels after Easter are from the gospel of John – we have throughout the year – Matthew, Mark and Luke – and then comes the Evangelist of the different color: John.

His characters often have to get shook up – to begin to get Jesus.

Birth is birth – not rebirth. Water is water – not living water. Wind is wind – not the Holy Spirit.  Blindness is with our physical eyes – not spiritual blindness. Lame has to do with our feet and legs – not lame in the spirit. Light is light – not spiritual enlightenment. Bread is bread – not the living bread – Jesus. Wine – is his blood – big jarfulls of the blood of Jesus.


To begin to get Jesus – we have to get confused – shook up – first. Then we can move from the literal, the visible, to the imaginative, the spiritual, the invisible.

Perhaps that’s why Nicodemus is the model for people who pray in the night – who come to Jesus in the dark – who experience Jesus – the Light of the World.
April 13, 2015


The world is ribbed
   with rivers,
      little spider web
         black lines on maps,
            but in reality,
               when standing
                  on either shore,
                      rivers - short and long,
                          moving along
                      all around the world,
                 twisting and turning,
             up and down
          across and back, with
      ferries and bridges,
   fish and boats,
      water, water, water,
            with birds, birds,
                  rivers moving along,
                      part of the landscape,
                 where they build cities,
           where lakes appear,
       water flowing to the ocean,
 rivers round the world,
       sometimes frozen,
            sometimes flooding,
                 sometimes low,
                     empty, drought,
                 do you understand now,
          why rivers remind me,
    why they are
          a metaphor for life?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Sunday, April 12, 2015



The title of my homily for  is, “Do You Have Mercy on your Self Test?”

Today’s readings stress mercy and forgiveness, faith and love, peace and we’re in this together.

Please God - mercy flows like a river - through our life and through our world - each day.

I was brought up with the stress that this 2nd Sunday after Easter is "Doubting Thomas Sunday". That theme was a forever. Then a new stress in our lifetime showed up: with this being Divine Mercy Sunday. For some this stress became more important than Easter Sunday.  I assume all these stresses and themes are around – more or less – for every Sunday.


Our Pope Francis is making the theme of mercy central to his preaching and his proclaiming of the gospel. We’ll be hearing it big time when he comes to the United States. Mercy.

What’s your take on Mercy?

I know I have to sit down and come up with 3 to 5 nuances or key pushes on the theme.


It’s a theme that certainly is heard all through the Bible – page 3 to the last page.

We were taught that mercy, kindness, in Hebrew - HESED – H  E  S  E  D – is a key understanding of God – a key characteristic  of God.

As we went through our 4 years of  studies after college, we heard the word “mercy” “HESED” over and over again as we went through our Bible studies. We had big time Bible Study – 2 years on the Jewish Scriptures and 2 years on the Christian Scriptures. "HESED". was always coupled with another Hebrew word “EMET” – often translated into English as “ongoing” – “secure” “firm” “can be depended upon”.

In the Psalms – in much of the Jewish Scriptures – we hear “HESED EMET” – God is ongoing mercy – God is loving kindness – always with us mercy. You can depend on God for Mercy.

Well Pope Francis wants us  to have those two words – those two messages – as our way of being like God – as our way of living in the image and likeness of God.

How do you see God? How do you see Christians? How do we see ourselves?


Somewhere along the line I discovered that people love self-tests?

I’ve often noticed in doctor’s waiting rooms Reader’s Digest or some other popular magazine – and in the table of contents – I see “Self Test” or “Score Yourself” and when I turn to that page the test has been ripped out or marked by someone else. 

I’ve also noticed when doing retreats and workshops, people like self tests.

I found out that businesses and organizations often give their employees the Jungian Type Test.  One finds out that some people are extraverts and some people are introverts – in varying degrees.  One finds out who’s neat and time conscious and who are the opposite – also in varying degrees –– the intuitives.  I call them the slobs – the dreamers – vs. the practical. Just listen to preachers and you know who’s who. Show me your celler or garage or the trunk of your car and you can guess who’s who. I’ve lived in rectories most of my life with other priests. You walk into a room to see a guy and I know in a second – the self test of one’s room. I’ve lived with guys who get rid of the morning’s newspaper by 6 PM that evening and I have newspapers from 25 years ago on one of many piles here and there in corners or under my bed – etc. etc. etc. I see something. I gotta save this. Then there are the thinkers vs. the feelers – head vs. heart – emotions vs. analysis.

I personally like the FIRO self test – made by a guy name Schultz – who was asked to help figure out issues and characteristics for people in submarines. The key 3 issues are Control, Inclusion, Affection.  Some people’s main issue is to control the issue, some like one to one’s, some like to feel part of the group. These are all more or less – expressed or unexpressed.

If you felt any energy in my last 200 words you got that.


Well the scriptures are read out in church to challenge us on how we stand when it comes to mercy – as well as other issues.

So we have those 3 guys coming down the road to Jericho and they see or don’t see the 4th person who has been beaten up and robbed? Who stops to help? Who doesn’t? Who thinks that the person who stops is a sucker? Who thinks I’m going to miss God and Synagogue if I stop?

So we hear about rock throwers who seem to only see women who are having sex outside of marriage as law breakers – not as someone who needs help and protection by some higher or better law than the law that says she should be stoned to death?

So on a scale of 1 to 10 – 10 being the highest – how would I score myself as a person of mercy and forgiveness?


I heard of a priest  – whom everyone from miles around – went to for confession.  He would only say one thing to every person – “Don’t we all? Don’t we all?” So he was called, “Father Don’tWeAll.”

I want that nick name.  

Don’t we all?
April 12, 2015


How do you feel:
when you cross a river,
when somebody says you messed up,
when you're in a funeral parlor,
when you’re in the woods
when a tractor trailer is too close,
when it’s your birthday,
when the telephone rings,
when you hear a motorcycle at midnight,
when you see somebody in a wheel chair,
when you see a pregnant woman,
when you notice a tree budding,
when you hear the words, "capital punishment",
when you hear the word, "sex"
when you hear the word "abortion"
when you hear soft music,
when you graduate,
when an ambulance goes by,
when you see a sail boat
when someone brings you ice cream,
when certain songs come on the radio,
when it rains in the spring.
when you are eating an apple,
when you see a horse in a high green grass field,
when someone you hate walks into the room,
when you see someone who just lost a loved one,
when you see the ocean,
when you see blood,
when you see a rose,
when you see a baby's fingers or toes?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015