Saturday, July 25, 2015



The title of my homily for this Feast of St. James is, “Simplicty and Service”.

Today’s two readings for the feast of St. James have great simplicity. They also have truth and depth.

They give us two thoughts for the day.


Today’s first reading from 2 Corinthians 4: 7-15 has the famous “earthen vessel” text.

When it comes down to it, we are simply earthen vessels.

We’re like a flower pot. Better: We’re like a coffee mug. Once we were brand new, but after many washes and many uses, we get chipped and worn out. Some of us break early and some of us last a long time.

Doesn’t that sound so pessimistic? Yes!

But no! Because Paul adds, because of Jesus, there is risen life - resurrection, hope, a future beyond our death - when we will all celebrate newness of life.


Today’s gospel has as simple and as clear a message, but it too is a message that is filled with truth and depth.

Our purpose for existence is to serve, not to be served.

The mother of James and John wanted her boys to be the big shots.

Nope, says Jesus. What it’s all about is service.

Life is not to be one of those fine fancy cups kept behind glass -- special -- to be “Wows!” No life is like being a coffee mug, to be used every day -- in service.

In today’s gospel, Jesus says, “Can you drink this cup?” And they say “Yes”. He says “You will!”

Can I get you a cup of coffee?

Can I serve you?



Two simple thoughts for the day.

To be simple and to serve....

Two simple thoughts to think on while you sip a cup of coffee or tea.

July 25, 2015


Going by the Court House,
on Church Circle, I walked
by a couple ready to walk
in on a Friday afternoon
to get married. She was in
a white knee length dress -
a bouquet of flowers in her
hands and a large butterfly
tattoo on her left shoulder.

Going by them - not 5 feet
away - was a guy with a
back pack and a glare in
his eye as he silently faced
a young woman his age.
She with a little boy in hand
yelled at him, “That’s what
I mean. Every time I want
to talk, you back away.”

“Woo! Oops!” I said to myself -
as I kept walking away my way,
heading west on West Street.”

© Andy Costello Reflections 2015


The title of my homily for this 16th Friday in Ordinary Time is, “If You Got a Dream, Scream It.”

In looking up some stuff for a homily for today for the gospel story of The Parable of the Sower, I found a quote from the prophet Jeremiah that I never saw before: “Let the prophet who has a dream, tell the dream....” Jeremiah 23: 28.

Let me basically say some words about that text for a homily for today.

The simplicity of that quote grabbed me. On second thought, for me the word “dream” comes with great baggage. I think of Doctor Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” sermon and Langston Hughes “A Dream Deferred” poem.

“Let the prophet who has a dream, tell the dream....” Jeremiah 23: 28.

So that dream theme text is my homily thought for today.

That text has the possibility for a sermon about the reality that we have our dreams, expectations, and our hopes. 

More dreams - less nightmares.

Nightmares are too much with us. Just watch and listen to the local evening news at 10 PM every night - out of every big city. We notice the first 5 stories are 5 murders, shootings or fires. It’s not the stuff of dreams, but the stuff of nightmares.

I dream that TV stations do more work - crime stories are easy to be had - and tell us the Good News happening in our cities and neighborhoods each day.


Jeremiah 23:28 is not today’s first reading, but that was the text that hit me while beginning some research for today’s gospel about the Parable of the Sower.

Next, I looked it up and read the whole verse from Jeremiah where we these words about voicing our dreams are located. They all grab me. Listen carefully to these words from Jeremiah:

“Let the prophet
who has a dream,
tell the dream,
but let him who has my word
speak my word faithfully.
What has straw in common with wheat?
says the Lord” (Jeremiah 23: 28)

I had never remembered hearing those words before - including that last question about, “What has straw in common with wheat?”

I’ve gone through Jeremiah many times in life, but I wondered, “Maybe I’m used to other translations, that don’t use the word, `dream’?”

Surprise! Most translations of Jeremiah 23: 28 use the word “dream”. So I guess I’m like the soil that the seed of the word can’t penetrate. I guess I’m that hard earth that Jesus is talking about in today’s gospel when it comes to seed germinating.


Let me hit you with some of the translations of Jeremiah 23: 28.

The Jewish Study Bible puts it this way: "Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream; and let him who has received My word report my word  faithfully! How can straw be compared to grain? - says the Lord."

The Jerusalem Bible puts it this way: “Let the prophet who has had a dream tell his dream as his own. And let him who receives a word from me, deliver it accurately! What have straw and wheat in common? It is Yahweh who speaks.”

As already indicated, The New American Bible puts it this way: “Let the prophet who has a dream, tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? says the Lord” (Jeremiah 23: 28)

The King James Bible puts it this way: “The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord.”

The New English Bible puts it this way: “If a prophet has a dream, let him tell his dream; if he has a word, let him speak my word in truth. What has chaff to do with grain? says the Lord.”

The New Revised Standard Version puts it this way, “Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let the one who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? says the Lord.”

JEREMIAH 23:28b-32

I then noticed that the words that follow after that text have power as well.

The Jerusalem Bible states:"Does not my word burn like fire - it is Yahweh who speaks - is it not like a hammer shattering
a rock?" "So. then, I have a quarrel with the prophets - it is Yahweh who speaks -that steal my words from one other.  I have a quarrel with  the prophets- it is Yahweh who speaks - who have only to move tongues to utter oracles.  I have a quarrel with the prophets who make prophesies out of living."

It goes like this in the King James Bible, “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock into pieces? Therefore, behold I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues and say, He saith. Behold I am against them that prophesy false dreams saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.”

The New English Bible goes like this, “Do not my words scorch like fire? Says the Lord. Are they not like a hammer that splinters rock? I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who steal my words from one another for their own use.  I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who concoct words of their own and then say, ‘This is his very word.’ I am against the prophets says the Lord, who dream lies and retell them, misleading my people with wild and reckless falsehoods. It was not I who sent them or commissioned them, and they will do this people no good. This is the very word of the Lord.”

The New Revised Standard Version goes like this, “Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer which breaks a rock in pieces? See, therefore, I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who steal my words from one another. See, I am against the prophets, says the Lord who use their own tongues and say, `Says the Lord.’ See, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, says the Lord, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or appoint them; so they do not profit this people at all, says the Lord.”


Next, each time I read the 23:28 text, I  wonder about what that  part of the text mean when it compares wheat and straw?

Before going to a commentary, I got an answer when I read the Good News for Modern Man  translation of this section of Jeremiah. With the addition of a few words it made the whole thing make more sense to me. In the first few translations I thought the word dream was referring to something good. We all have our dreams. Well Good News for Modern Man translates the text as follows:  “The prophet who has had a dream should say it is only a dream, but the prophet who has heard my message should proclaim that message faithfully. What good is straw compared with wheat? My message is like a fire and like a hammer that breaks rocks in pieces. I am against those prophets who take each other’s words and proclaim them as my message. I am also against those prophets who speak their own words and claim they came from me. Listen to what I, the Lord, say! I am against the prophets who tell their dreams that are full of lies. They tell these dreams and lead my people astray with their lies and their boasting. I did not send them or order them to go, and they are of no help at all to the people. I, the Lord, have spoken.”

That made it a whole new ball game - a whole new understanding of the text.  

It was the same with The Way. They put it this way, “Let these false prophets tell their dreams and let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between chaff and wheat! Does not my word burn like fire? asks the Lord. Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashed the rock to pieces? So I stand against  these `prophets’ who get their messages from each other - these smooth-tongued prophets who say, `This message is from God!’ Their made-up dreams are flippant lies that lead my people into sin. I did not send them and they have no message at all for my people, says the Lord.”


Jesus was a dreamer. Jesus was a prophet. His dreams and his prophecy are not false! And at the age of 30 or so he began to tell his dreams - his dreams for the human race, his dreams about how we can begin to live the dream of God. He had a dream about a Kingdom where all people would be foot washers and all would stop to help their brother along the way. He had a dream of a kingdom where brothers and sisters wouldn’t throw rocks, but would forgive 70 times 7 times.

Boom. He experienced the horror of not being listened to.

But he didn’t give up.


So he dreamed up the Parable of the Sower. He wanted his listeners to look at themselves - to see which of the 4 types of people they were.

Early Church dreamers and prophets took that same parable and used it to understand their own loneliness in not being heard or not being followed up.


We today sit here.

Our brains are like a field - and lots of everyday words and experiences are being thrown at us - as if we were a field.

Today’s gospel challenges me to ask what’s sinking in? What am I hearing? What am I missing? Do I still realize Jesus is dreaming big dreams for me?

We have our everyday patterns - our regular ways of doing things - things we never even think of. Eating, drinking, brushing our teeth, our schedules, our robotic things. 

Part of us is shallow. It looks good, but underneath is rock - rock solid patterns that can’t be penetrated or changed.

Part of us is good soil, so good we got our best stuff going and growing there.

And part of us very good soil, soil that is or can be producing 30, 60 and a hundredfold.

Now in those areas where we are robotic, if there are self-destructive patterns or eating or drinking or scheduling, to change is almost impossible. We need conversion there - changing of roads, stop living by rote, stop being a robot. Instead the call is to change our regular patterns that are us. Our grooves, our ruts, must go, that is if they are self-destructive.

In the areas where we are shallow, obviously, we need to purge ourselves - rip up and move out those big boulders of habit that need to be removed - our stumbling blocks, etc.

In those areas where we are alive, we have to look for any weeds that are flourishing, but detrimental to our well-being.

And in those areas where we can or are producing 30, 60 and a 100fold great. More!


Jeremiah said, “Let the prophet who has a dream, tell the dream.” Jesus has a dream, have we heard it yet, or are we stone deaf. Or do we have so many rocks or weeds growing within us that we never have time to uproot them as well as planting in our rich soil. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

JULY 24, 2015


Windows are not just for light 
and  air.... Obviously. They are a break
in the wall from sewing and working.
They are for seeing, hoping, knowing
what's going on - on the street -
who's dropping in to see whom -
who's leaving and who's returning -
and who seems to be gone for good....
And by the way, why doesn't
someone come and knock on
my door? I need a people break -
more than a window break. 
When, Lord, when?

(c) Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015

July 23, 2015


Some mornings, some moments,
are drenched in mystery - after a
long rainy night - after the razor
blade of hurt or after the gray of
uncertainty. Death doesn't have
to wipe us out. The relationship 
isn’t over, but then again it might be. 
So life calls me to listen, to talk, 
to ask, to pray, to decide to do 
something, to forgive, to reconcile, 
to let go, and then to get moving again -
ahead - into the slight clearing ahead.
Night doesn't have to be the everyday
feeling that it is for some people. I can
wake up to morning. I can get moving. Sometimes the path is straight.
Sometimes the path has light. 
Sometimes the path gives me beauty
and the hope that I don't have go it alone

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Wednesday, July 22, 2015



The title of my homily on July 22nd, is “Mary Magdalene: Patron Saint of Those Who Are Constantly There.”

If you know your gospels, you know that Mary Magdalene’s name shows up in the 4 gospels more than most of the apostles.

In today’s gospel [John 20:1-2, 11-18], there she is early in the morning - on the first day of the week.

It’s the first day of a new era in history. It’s the first moment of a blessed assurance:  There is life after death! There is resurrection!

So that’s why I named Mary Magdalene as the Patron Saint of someone who is constantly there.

She walked the walk - she got her feet to Calvary - to Golgotha - and to the Tomb - and to the apostles to announce that the stone had been removed from the tomb!


There are two images of Mary Magdalene that I liked when I saw them in pictures.

Both have to do with Jesus’ feet.  The first is that of Mary Magdalene washing Jesus’ feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. 

The second is that of Mary kissing his feet while under the cross. That image is assumed - but that never stopped painters during the past 20 centuries. [1]


If you visit the big frame painting sections of big museums - the high ceiling rooms that have classic religious pictures - you’ll often find paintings of Mary Magdalene.

You’ll find her story in various novels - like The Da Vinci Code - as well as the musical plays Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar.

And I might as well mention here that there is a Gnostic Gospel of Mary Magdalen. I say that because at various times I’ve heard people angry at the Church or Catholic Education because they never told folks that there were other gospels besides Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

So I’m mentioning that here in this homily as an aside. Yes there is a Gnostic Gospel of Mary Magdalene.

If you fiddle with the Internet and like to Google stuff, Google The Gospel of Mary Magdalen.[2]

Like the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, it’s worth reading to see how it uses the 4 gospels.

It’s not too long….

The Gnostics were Christian break off groups that liked to have an edge over other groups - providing special teachings that they know and others don’t. The history of the church has these kinds of books down through the centuries. They provide so called “revelations” by visionaries - that the Church disclaims at times - but not always.[3]

It’s good to see how these Gnostic Gospels work - trying to get across teachings about Jesus - to folks in various Christian sects - or cults - which were always there on the edges or fringes of Christianity.

I noticed while Googling “The Gospel of Mary Magdalen” that in 1896 in Akhmim, Upper Egypt, someone came up with the Gnostic Gospel of Mary Magdalene. It was bought by a German, Carl Reinhardt in Cairo and brought to Germany. Because of 2 wars and lots of other reasons, it didn’t get published. In the meanwhile in 1945 they found 2 copies of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene in the Nag Hammadi digs in Egypt. Parts are missing in these finds - but using the texts they have they have stitched together a decent copy of her Gospel for translations into English - or whatever language.


The title of my homily is, “Mary Magdalene: Patron Saint of Those Who Are Constantly There.”

Mary Magdalene showed up.

So too all those grandmothers and grandfathers, moms and dads, readers, Eucharistic ministers, etc. who show up to serve. They are our constants.

Business people know their workers - the ones who come in early and leave late. Those who show up when there is an emergency.


St. Mary Magdalene pray for us to have this gift of showing up and being there for others. Amen.


[1] This picture is a detail of Mary Kissing the Feet of the Crucified Jesus, an Early 14th Century painting in the Tolentino  Basilica di San Nicola Cappelone. Here is the full picture:

[2] Here's a copy of The Gospel of Mary Magdalene that you can get on line by just typing into a search engine The Gospel of Mary Magdalene

The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene
[The Gospel of Mary]
Chapter 4
(Pages 1 to 6 of the manuscript, containing chapters 1 - 3, are lost.  The extant text starts on page 7...)
. . . Will matter then be destroyed or not?
22) The Savior said, All nature, all formations, all creatures exist in and with one another, and they will be resolved again into their own roots.
23) For the nature of matter is resolved into the roots of its own nature alone.
24) He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
25) Peter said to him, Since you have explained everything to us, tell us this also: What is the sin of the world?
26) The Savior said There is no sin, but it is you who make sin when you do the things that are like the nature of adultery, which is called sin.
27) That is why the Good came into your midst, to the essence of every nature in order to restore it to its root.
28) Then He continued and said, That is why you become sick and die, for you are deprived of the one who can heal you.
29) He who has a mind to understand, let him understand.
30) Matter gave birth to a passion that has no equal, which proceeded from something contrary to nature. Then there arises a disturbance in its whole body.
31) That is why I said to you, Be of good courage, and if you are discouraged be encouraged in the presence of the different forms of nature.
32) He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
33) When the Blessed One had said this, He greeted them all,saying, Peace be with you. Receive my peace unto yourselves.
34) Beware that no one lead you astray saying Lo here or lo there! For the Son of Man is within you.
35) Follow after Him!
36) Those who seek Him will find Him.
37) Go then and preach the gospel of the Kingdom.
38) Do not lay down any rules beyond what I appointed you, and do not give a law like the lawgiver lest you be constrained by it.
39) When He said this He departed.

Chapter 5
1) But they were grieved. They wept greatly, saying, How shall we go to the Gentiles and preach the gospel of the Kingdom of the Son of Man? If they did not spare Him, how will they spare us?
2) Then Mary stood up, greeted them all, and said to her brethren, Do not weep and do not grieve nor be irresolute, for His grace will be entirely with you and will protect you.
3) But rather, let us praise His greatness, for He has prepared us and made us into Men.
4) When Mary said this, she turned their hearts to the Good, and they began to discuss the words of the Savior.
5) Peter said to Mary, Sister we know that the Savior loved you more than the rest of woman.
6) Tell us the words of the Savior which you remember which you know, but we do not, nor have we heard them.
7) Mary answered and said, What is hidden from you I will proclaim to you.
8) And she began to speak to them these words: I, she said, I saw the Lord in a vision and I said to Him, Lord I saw you today in a vision. He answered and said to me,
9) Blessed are you that you did not waver at the sight of Me. For where the mind is there is the treasure.
10) I said to Him, Lord, how does he who sees the vision see it, through the soul or through the spirit?
11) The Savior answered and said, He does not see through the soul nor through the spirit, but the mind that is between the two that is what sees the vision and it is [...]
(pages 11 - 14 are missing from the manuscript)

Chapter 8:
. . . it.
10) And desire said, I did not see you descending, but now I see you ascending. Why do you lie since you belong to me?
11) The soul answered and said, I saw you. You did not see me nor recognize me. I served you as a garment and you did not know me.
12) When it said this, it (the soul) went away rejoicing greatly.
13) Again it came to the third power, which is called ignorance.
14) The power questioned the soul, saying, Where are you going? In wickedness are you bound. But you are bound; do not judge!
15) And the soul said, Why do you judge me, although I have not judged?
16) I was bound, though I have not bound.
17) I was not recognized. But I have recognized that the All is being dissolved, both the earthly things and the heavenly.
18) When the soul had overcome the third power, it went upwards and saw the fourth power, which took seven forms.
19) The first form is darkness, the second desire, the third ignorance, the fourth is the excitement of death, the fifth is the kingdom of the flesh, the sixth is the foolish wisdom of flesh, the seventh is the wrathful wisdom. These are the seven powers of wrath.
20) They asked the soul, Whence do you come slayer of men, or where are you going, conqueror of space?
21) The soul answered and said, What binds me has been slain, and what turns me about has been overcome,
22) and my desire has been ended, and ignorance has died.
23) In a aeon I was released from a world, and in a Type from a type, and from the fetter of oblivion which is transient.
24) From this time on will I attain to the rest of the time, of the season, of the aeon, in silence.

Chapter 9
1) When Mary had said this, she fell silent, since it was to this point that the Savior had spoken with her.
2) But Andrew answered and said to the brethren, Say what you wish to say about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas.
3) Peter answered and spoke concerning these same things.
4) He questioned them about the Savior: Did He really speak privately with a woman and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He prefer her to us?
5) Then Mary wept and said to Peter, My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I have thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?
6) Levi answered and said to Peter, Peter you have always been hot tempered.
7) Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries.
8) But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well.
9) That is why He loved her more than us. Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect Man, and separate as He commanded us and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Savior said.

10) And when they heard this they began to go forth to proclaim and to preach.

[3] In this clustering I’m very subjective. It would upset folks if I mentioned the names of these books in public. I consider these books  to have “strange stuff”.  I spot them left on church window sills, etc. Here are some of the ones that are on my "strange" listing.

·       The Poem of the Man God by Maria Valtorta [This book was on the Index of Forbidden Books when we had an Index. Cardinal Ratzinger - when in charge of all this - stated clearly this book is rejected by the Catholic Church.

·       The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul [Was banned for 20 years]  I know she was canonized a Saint.

·       Mary of Agreda’s book, Mystical City [Was on the Index of Condemned books till the Index was ended in 1966].

·       Father Stefano Gobbi’s book, The Marian Movement of Priests. [Never officially accepted or rejected by the Church.] 

·       Various statements about what Mary was saying by the so called visionaries of Medjugorje. I don't think this stuff is authentic and that Mary talks like this. Nor do I believe this is how God works. 

July 22, 2015


When we bought those two chairs some
some thirty years ago - we never thought - each summer - when we dragged them
out to the end of the lawn - that one day -
one would be empty. It’s me - and yet -
I sit there - still looking out - and that 
other chair is still filled with you and 
all the memories  memorized here and 
across the waters we crossed together.   Please drag your new chair to face me -
so we can face each other on each side
of this beautiful blue sea between us.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Painting on top by Rebecca Croft.
Check her blog:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015



The title and theme of my homily for this 16 Tuesday in Ordinary Time  is, “The Presence of God.”

The presence of God - SHEKINAH  is a key theme in Jewish Theology.

It basically means, “nest” - God wants to nest with us. God the Mother Bird builds a nest for us - for our home - for our security - to get us off to a great start.

God - nest - in the shape of cupped hands - presence - security - shekinah.


We find the theme of God’s presence - SHEKINAH - all through the scriptures.

God creates the nest called, “The Garden,” - Paradise - for Adam and Eve and walks with them in the cool of the evening - till they mess up - and hide from the presence of God.

God asks us that question every evening - every day - “Where are you?”

We are in the book of Exodus right now - God is present to save. God is the Savior. God is the Redeemer. God is the Deliverer. God is the Warrior who will lead the Israelites through the waters - to get to the other side - and to freedom. We heard that in today’s first reading.

We’ve all stood at the edge of the ocean - or river - or bay - and we know there is another side - but we need a boat, a bridge, to get to the other shore. God parts the water for us.

We know that image at the time of death - when a loved one - is imagined over the waters of death - getting into heaven - and comes through and to the other sure and earlier loved ones before us - are waiting.

God opens golden gates, doors, penetrates walls, is the bridge to salvation.

That’s just 2 books in the Old Testament. Check the rest for more images.

The New Testament has the same image as today’s first reading - telling us Jesus is the New Moses - who will lead us through the waters - the great symbol of Baptism - and we come out of the waters as part of the New People - the New Israel.

Today’s gospel has us as brother, sister, and Mother of Jesus. With Christ we are God’s family.

We who come to Morning Mass - know that - we eat with Christ on the morning shore - spelled “shore” and “sure” - called “morning Mass”.

I love that post-Resurrection scene when the disciples realize Jesus is on the shore of Galilee where they began - and he tells them where to fish - and they catch 153 sheep - and someone yells, “It is the Lord.”

Talk about presence ….


When we see ourselves as God’s family - when we eat the Eucharist with Christ and each other - we know what presence is.

We pray together here in church - we sneeze and others think and say and pray, “God bless you.”  We worry when a regular is missing.

We know the presence of each other in Chick and Ruth’s - and in the Parking Lot - and in the Mall - and in the next car.

Talk about presence ….

We know when the other calls - or comes in the house  - or is with us for a family week at Ocean City or the Outer banks.

We know each other - we are present with each other - when a family member dies and we experience friends and neighbors - stopping into Taylors, Kalas, Hardesty, Reece’s - to give us support.

Presence - talk about presence….


The title of my homily was “The Presence of God.”

I hold that we understand the presence of God better when we know the presence of others - starting as babies - starting with parents, baby sitters, grand-parents, friends, teachers, neighbors.

I connect Mass with meals and meals with Mass.

I connect Family Presence with God Presence.

I connect quiet time in church - with discovering and reflecting on God’s presence - in church.

I realize the conflicting issues in all this - I love to see people connecting with each other after Mass. I realize we don’t have a big lobby here at St. Mary’s - which was built - when the priest wasn’t present with folks after Mass.

I love to see clusters of folks talking with each other - not only in the lobby of St. John Neumann in church - but in different sections of the church.

I see the faces of folks - not too many - who give looks at talkers - after Mass - and don’t seem to see their smiles and exuberance.

They want to pray and the talkers are disturbing their prayers.

When they complain to me - I like to say, “Say a prayer of thanksgiving for their joy - their smiles - their continuing to be in communion with Christ and Christ’s brother and sister and Mother - in church today with them. Isn’t it great to have people who are present to us. Isn’t absenteeism one of the big bummers of life?
July 21st, 2015


If you’re going to break bread 
with someone, pick someone’s
whose heart you broke or vice versa.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015



The title of my homily for this 16th Monday in Ordinary Time is, “Is God the God I Think God Is?”

This might be a very tricky homily, thought, and question.

Don’t accept my words. Look at your thoughts about this question: “Is God the God I Think God Is?”


When we ask little kids to draw a picture of God, we get some very interesting looking pictures.

Many are a picture of a big tall man in long robes and a beard.

I don’t know if that is everywhere around the world.

If we ask teenagers to draw a picture of God, we start to get some geometry in the mix - circles, triangles, and boxes. Abstraction has entered the picture.  We also get images of a mountain, a fire, a bird, and even a stick figure of a man on the cross might appear  in the assortment of teenager’s pictures.


How would you draw God?  How do you picture God?

I assume that everyone - who says they believe in God has ideas and images about God.

Words are easier than pictures - maybe.  
When describing God I’ve also heard words like, “Love, Caring, Light, Kindness, Forgiveness, Creator, Artist”.

Or maybe when reflecting on the presence of God in our lives, what would it be like to close one's eyes and listen to the silence or to listen to a philharmonic orchestra.


If we ask others to describe another,  I assume we’ll get answers, but I’ll also assume that we’re always wrong - and/or do I say, “incomplete”.

When someone describes us to us - we get upset at times - because we know that others really don’t know us - or our motives  - or how we really are.

So why don’t we apply that to others?

It’s my experience that we don’t. I know I don’t.

Remember the comment after John F. Kennedy died, “Johnny we hardly knew you.”

We can say that of everyone.

I used to write obituaries. Let me tell you, there are many takes on people.


If we jump to God,  I make the loud assumption that it’s idolatry many times when we describe God.

No wonder there is a whole school of spiritual writers that call God the Divine Dark.

There is the apophatic-kataphatic approach to God.  Apo - means away from. Nothing we say about God is God. Kata - means with - as in with images of God.

Okay, God is love. God is King. God is Shepherd. God is light. God is life.

Yet behind all these words and images there is our take on love, kings, shepherds, light, life. So no matter how we go, we’re subjective.

In the meanwhile, God is God.

God is the great I am.


The reason for this topic today is because of a phone call as well as today’s first reading.

I was talking to a family member on the phone yesterday and this lady said that she doesn’t buy that the God described in some psalms, is God.

We can say the same of God in today’s first reading. There’s God slaying, killing, leading the Egyptians into traps - and they are killed.

I remember reading the Koran once and I kept on hearing about a God who burns, burns, burns.

I thought to myself, “No wonder Moslems are always fighting.”

Then I started to prepare a homily for the day - and there in our scriptures I read about “our God” burning and killing people and cities.

Somewhere along the line I decided on the way of thinking that says we project onto God our ways of thinking.

I heard while we studied the Jewish Scriptures there was an evolution of thought when it comes to God.

Our Old Testament professor said it was a breakthrough when Isaiah talked about God being a God not only of the Jews - but also of all people.


We who are blessed with the Christian Faith know the teachings that Christ is the Image of the Father. As Jesus said, “The one who sees me sees the Father.”

Yet there are those texts where Jesus says to us, “Whom do you say, I am?”

Down through the centuries people have killed others in the name of God and of Christ.

What to do: I’m assuming that when we die and meet God we’ll fall on our face and cry.

When we were novices in the Redemptorists we were told to lay on the floor before Christ - and before God - and adore our God in total humility.

I always like that prayer during Holy Week, when we priests lay down on the sanctuary floor. Now that we are old, arthritic, and/or fat, it’s difficult to pray in this position But it might be a great preparation for heaven.