Saturday, August 22, 2015

August 22, 2015


I’ve wondered at times if people look for
certain things when they enter a room or
a house - a restaurant or a store. I don’t
know if I do - or if anyone does. Maybe 
some wonder about things like: Where is the bathroom? Is there an exit. Who’s here?
Who’s not here? Who’s who here? What's 
here? What's going on here? I repeat, 
don’t know if anyone thinks about one of
these questions consistently or consciously. 
If I had to guess or give an answer for myself,
I think I’d say, “Where’s the exit?” Now
what does that say about me? What does
any answer, if we have one, say about us?

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Friday, August 21, 2015

August 21, 2015


There is that mute button on the TV remote.
There is that button on the side of cell phones
to tone it down. But there is no button on each
other - when the other is too much with us -
so sometimes we gesture  to each other -
with a “Shush!” finger to our lips or we signal
to another with hands palms down - to “Calm down!” Then sometimes that causes a scream
or the  other becomes furious which proves we’re right. We need a “Mute” button - so hurry
up evolution. Hurry up!

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Thursday, August 20, 2015

August 20, 2015

A box has weight, mystery, the unknown inside ….
Labels lessen the mystery….
Keep it clear of words - no hints what’s inside….
Seal it with tape - transparent tape is better
than duct - and just let it sit there in a corner….

At some point someone will spot it. 
Someone will say, "I wonder what's in that box."
Someone will lift it. Someone will shake it.
Someone will listen for sounds it makes. 

That heightens the mystery every time. 

I am in a box. You are in a box. Mysteries….

God keeps on being put in a box….Well God is
mystery, the unknown - often just sitting there
in a box - in a corner…. And people called
theologians, preachers, authorities will tell us
about God in the box…. 

Well, shake that box. Lift that box up. 
Listen to that box. Surprise. You might hear laughter from deep down inside. Hey, God 
sent his son as a baby - who became a carpenter - a neighbor and a story teller -
a hero - who died  and a bloody mess who
became a hope, a promise, resurrection,
bread, wine, someone to sit at the table with -
a mystery - a word in a book - and sometimes
He becomes flesh in those who discover Him.

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

August 19, 2015


“No” is the tougher of the two tiny responses
to whether we can have the date or the car
keys or permission to get into the building.

“Yes” brings its own consequences - some that
we didn’t see as part of the entrance fee - some
that in time we might wish there was a “No”.

Should we spend time dwelling on the “No’s”?
Should we spend time thinking about the “Yes’s”?
Answer: “Yes” and “No.” But know there are consequences!

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

JUDGES 6: 11-24 
AND LUKE 1:26-38


The title of my reflection for this 20th Tuesday in Ordinary Time  is, “Gideon and Mary: Judges 6: 11-24 and Luke 1:26-38.”

This will be more information than inspiration.

When I read this morning’s first reading from the 6th Chapter of Judges,  I found myself back in the seminary in a classroom in the early 1960’s. Our professor stressed that when Luke put together his annunciation account  for Mary - he had in front of him Gideon’s annunciation moment.

Then he had us read both annunciation accounts out loud.

So I decided to use the time for this morning’s homily to point out the similarities of both accounts.


Gideon’s annunciation moment begins this way: “The angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abierzrite. While his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press to save it from the Midianites, the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “The Lord is with you, O champion!”

Mary’s annunciation moment begins this way: “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favored! The Lord is with you.”


Next come the questions. Wait a minute! I have some questions. Both Gideon and Mary ask questions. Don’t we all, when asked to do a favor?

Gideon begins by asking, “My Lord, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” And he asks several more questions.

Mary asks what the greeting meant. How can I bear a son? I’m not married.


Gideon is told by the Lord, “Go with the strength you have and save Israel from the power of Midian.”

Mary is told that the Holy Spirit will come over her and she’ll bear a Son - the Son of God. That’s her calling.


Two times as we heard today’s first reading, Gideon is told, “I shall be with you.”

Mary is told the power of the Most High will cover her with its shadow. Mary is told nothing impossible with God.”


Gideon wants signs - and finally gets one and discovers God in the fire than came from a rock that consumes everything - and then realized he had seen the angel of the Lord face to face.

Mary brings forth Jesus to our world. He is the sign we’re all looking for.


Notice the inspirations - the challenges - the angels who will come to you today. Think about the possibilities of bringing new life to your daily situations. Measure them. Question them.  Then do acts of kindness - good works - bring God’s love and presence into the rooms and corners of your world today.

PAINTING ON TOP: The Angel Puts the Fire on the Altar of Gideon, J.J. Tissot
August 18, 2014


They didn’t notice it, they didn’t plan it,
but silence, cold crushing silence,
became their weapon of choice.

They didn’t know it, they didn’t plan it,
but silence is the worse of weapons,
because neither is taking communion.

©  Andy Costello, Reflections, 2015
Painting of Aase and Harald Nørregaard 
by Edvard Munch, 1899.
I have no clue as to the state of
their marriage, but I found 
this painting by Munch - as well
as his famous painting, 
"The Scream" right at the heart
 of many  communication 
and relationship scenarios.



The title of my homily for this 20th Monday in Ordinary Time is, “Just One More Thing.”


We just heard the gospel story about the young man who approached Jesus and said, “Teach, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”

Jesus backs off a bit and says, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

So the young man says, “Which ones?”

And Jesus says, “You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. Don’t bear false witness. Honor your father and your mother. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

The young man said, “All these I have observed. What do I still lack?”

I sense that he is saying that in his gut he feels something is still missing.

So Jesus says, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me.”

When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”


The title of my homily is, “Just One More Thing.”

If Jesus said to us, “Just one more thing….”  What would that be for us?

Do we have that inner sense or feeling, “Something is missing in my life?”

What is that one key comment Jesus would say to us today?

Years ago there was a TV detective named, “Lt. Colombo.” 

He would show up at a murder scene and check things out.

Then when he was heading out the door, he would stop, and come back in and say, “I was thinking….”

He was saying, “Just One More Thing….”

He’d say “I noticed on my way in that there were 3 empty garbage cans in front of the garage door and yet you said you put the garbage out last night and you were out at the store this morning. Did you move them out of the way and then put them back the same way.”

Or he’d say, “There is one chair here in the living room that had floor indentations on the rug, so who moved that chair and why was it moved?”

He’d always have one more thing….

From time to time we get the itch that there’s something missing in my life. I’m doing everything right - but there is something more I should be doing- to be a better parent, church goer, teacher, what have you.

So that’s my point in this homily to ask the Lord in prayer and in thought:
“Is there one more thing I’m supposed to be doing with my life?”


We all have our 10 top things to do as a Christian.

We’re doing them and doing them well.

The inner itch for the more is what I’m looking at.


I have something that’s been hitting me the last few years or so.

Do you ever have an inner quest or itch - that’s there in the background of your every day - and it slowly rises to the surface.

Mine is to learn to zip my lip.

Mine is to learn better how to pause more - in that 5 seconds - we have before we say something - especially something that is harmful.

I want to be more conscious of that little voice that says, “Don’t say that. It could hurt that person.”

I want to make that little voice louder.

Not this past weekend - but the weekend before that - I drove with a good friend of my brother who lives in Rockville.  My grandnephew was getting married in Middletown, Connecticut and I knew Marty wanted to go - but can’t drive with his poor eyesight. His wife was his driver - but she just died a year ago or so.

It was a 7 hour trip, so he asked on the way back if I wanted to listen to some stuff he had on his iPhone. I said sure.

So we listened to a program entitled, “Is That What I Look Like?” from This American Life - hosted by Ira Glass.

The program gave some examples about how someone says something about what we look like and it hits us for life.

The first example was that of a lady who goes to a MAC store - Makeup Store - and wants to get foundation makeup - whatever that is. The salesman - and he’s a male - says, “Your next is yellow - but your face is a different color.”

Well, that was the first example of something said about our body that ended up lasting forever.

The second was about a lady in a play. Someone made a comment about her butt - being large - and said, “I thought it was a prop in the play.”

Well, that comment won’t go away.

The last one I remember was about a teacher - and one of the kids in class kept asking about “Jerry” and the teacher’s name was Matthew. Well, he finds out that the kids call his bald spot “Jerry”.  He didn’t know he had one, so he heads for the men’s room and sure enough he has a ball spot in the back that the kids noticed.

Well, I hope I zip my lip more - that I pause more - and say, “Don’t say something that will linger or hurt someone for life.”

So that’s my one thing more.


Then it hit me - what about saying a positive - a compliment - to praise one’s good spots?

Imagine giving someone a compliment - that stays with them all day - all week - best - the rest of one’s life.

I gave that example of the negative from that NPR radio program, This American Life. Give me an example of a positive reminder?

I thought of a wonderful example that I use sometimes when I’m doing a wedding homily and I don’t know the couple - but I want to give something personal and practical.

So let me give this example and close with this example.

A grandfather is sitting on a couch reading to his granddaughter.

She spots his wedding ring and says, “Grandpa can I see your wedding ring? Will it fit on my finger?”

Her grandfather takes it off and says, “Here - try it on.”

He thought that would be cute.

She tries it on and laughs - especially how bit it is on her tiny finger.

Then she looks inside the ring and notices some letters.

“Grandpa what does SSNTST mean?”

She knew her letters.

“Oops,” says her grandpa, “That’s a secret code.”

“But what does it mean?”

“Well, darling, some time when we have a lot of time I’ll tell you.”

“But what does it mean grandpa?”

“Darling, can you keep a secret?”


“Well, this is our little secret - and you’re the only one who knows about it.”

Well, every time she came over to see her grandparents or vice versa, she would tap his ring finger and wink at him.

But then after about 2 months - which felt like an eternity for her - she told her dad.

He then asked to see the secret code - on his ring.

“The little squealer,” he said. “She told you and I told her not to.”

So his dad told his son. “The story goes like this and I’m sure you can relate to this. After a while, after your mom and I were married for a bunch of years, our life together got too normal - too busy - too stale. So I was talking to a friend of mine - who said, “Come up with a  way to thank your wife every day and do it.”

“Okay, I get that dad. What did you come up with?”

“Well I went to the jeweler and had him engrave inside my wedding ring the letters, ‘SSNTST.’”  

“Okay dad, but what do those letters stand for?”

“Oh” said his dad, “It stands for Say Something Nice To Sarah Today.”

“Great dad, I think I can explain that to your granddaughter and we’ll keep it a secret - and in fact I think I’m going to do the same thing and tell her to watch for it when I give Terri a compliment and I’ll wink to her.”

Monday, August 17, 2015

August 17, 2015


Her wedding ring, the
diamonds were cut hard,
sharp, bright and glued tight.
His wedding ring, the 
round ring was made of
tungsten - tough, solid, lasting,
if ever a ring was made.
That was why they choose
that metal and her stones.
Then placed on ring fingers
just after the vows - the kiss,
the clapping, the prayers,
the going down the aisle,
then banquet, the dances,
the meal, the cake, the tears,
the honeymoon. Then time
and life happened - jobs -
moves - kids - schools -
ups - downs - agreements -
disagreements - changes -
more changes - wrinkles -
all the time the fingering and
the twisting of rings at 3 years
then 13, then 33 and 53 - 
till death do we part - 
but now she wears his ring 
round her neck still filled 
with joy - filled with tungsten 
and diamond memories.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015


The title of my homily for this 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time [B] is, “Whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

That comment from Jesus is in the opening words of today’s gospel from the 6th Chapter of John.

“Jesus said to the crowds: ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

Our gospel readings for the 17 -18 - 19 - 20 - and  21st Sundays in Ordinary Time, Year B, this particular year - are all part of the 6th Chapter of the Gospel of John.  It’s a long chapter like many of the chapters in John.

This is the year of the gospel of Mark. It’s on a 3 year cycle. But Mark is only 16 chapters, so they stuck John 6 in in order to have enough Gospel texts so they can stretch Mark out to the end of Church year.

I hear priests say it’s tricky preaching on the Eucharist - the Bread - for 5 straight weeks.


Today I want to look at a human feeling and thought and wonderings about forever. 

I want to look a little bit at aging, death, term limits. 

We all know our birthday. It comes around every year. We all know  that we also have a death day. But we don’t stop  to look at it, or want to look at it - because we don't know what day it is - obviously.

The title of my homily, “Whoever eats this bread will live forever.” It obviously hits and sits right there next to the question of forever.

Is there a forever?

Jesus chose bread as the forever solution.

I’ve noticed that people who come back to Church - often come back because they miss the bread. They miss communion.

And let me tell you, the 6th Chapter of John is central for all this.

I suggest the following:  sometime this week - when it’s quiet - and you have space - take your Bible - dust it off - if you have to dust it off - and open it up to the 6th chapter of John - and read it slowly.

It’s a long read. It’s a full meal. Take and read. Take and eat.  Take and chew. Take and digest. Take and be nourished with the word of God.


As you know, there are various ways to read the Bible.

One of the ways I was trained on how to read and interpret the Bible was to picture the audience it’s aimed at.  So the gospel of John is aimed at a group of people - not in front of Jesus around the year 30 - but for some Christians - followers of Jesus - from around the 90’s and the turn of the century.

I read that it’s aimed at people who are struggling with the reality of what Jesus is saying: “Want to live forever, eat me up!”  “Want companionship! Take and eat.” “This is my body. This is my blood.”

Then next Sunday we’re going to hear the sad sentence - from the last part of this 6th Chapter of John, “As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”

Notice that word “accompany”. It has the prefix “con" or "com” and the root word for “bread” - “pan”.  They no longer ate the bread with him - and the bread that is he.

I went to a family wedding last week. It was wonderful because I got a chance to be with my family and attend a wedding not as priest - but as an uncle. I sat back and watched everything. 

It also caused me to do lots of thinking - and wondering. The outdoor setting was beautiful - and it was a perfect day. I was aware that the Catholic Church wants weddings indoors - and in a sacred place. I am aware that there are many outdoor sacred places - but our Church wants marriages in churches.

I wasn't asked to do it - but not for that reason. They wanted the person who performed and helped with the ceremony to do it - and he did a good job. 

Being priest, I was seeing it as priest - and I wanted more God in the ceremony - obviously, so I was seeing the kind of wedding I've heard many a parent tell me about.

I've heard various folks say about weddings they were at: "There was no mention of God."

My nephew and his wife chose not to go that way.

Judge not. 

It got me thinking about what we as Church have done that various couples don't want a Church wedding.

Have we institutionalized religions that have lost an appeal? Have our mistakes and our sins triggered people from wanting a religious ceremony for their wedding. 

Or did this couple and many couples just think a beautiful outdoor wedding with green flowing willow trees shaking in the breeze - is a much more beautiful a scene than many a church?

It's time to celebrate.

So I let some of these thoughts go - and enjoyed being with family for the great reception that followed the wedding ceremony.

But the next few days I reflected on my need to be more faith filled. It got me thinking why do some kids not feel the need to eat Christ - to walk into churches to thank God with other Christians - and be in communion with each other and with Christ?

Central to my thinking is the importance of coming to Mass - on a Sunday basis.

I like being in communion with family and parish.

I am feeling sad that it seems the numbers coming to Sunday Mass is going down around here.

Being in communion with you and others is very important to me.  Thank you for being here.

I am glad that the Church is giving us this 6th chapter of John to get us in touch with some of this today.


So that’s my first point: being together here in this church today - eating the bread, sharing this hour, sitting here at this table, being at this meal. It’s very important to our lives as followers of Christ - to be in this together in Christ.

The word Catholic means “Kata” the Greek prefix for “with” or “con” or “com” in Latin - and Holos - the Greek word for “whole” - the whole group.

My second point is that point I already started to get into - we eat this bread with the promise of living forever.

Jesus’ words triggered for me the question of death and after death question: Is there anything after death? Is there a forever? Or is this all there is?

I’m sure I’m thinking about this because this week I had 2 funerals - two women who died of cancer. One was 59. She had ovarian cancer. The other was 69. She had cervical cancer. The week before that I had 2 funerals as well.

I’m glad I went to a meeting last Wednesday evening about athletics and coaches for this next school year at St. Mary’s High School. Youth. New life. What’s next?

Jesus’ comment about eating this bread and living forever - triggered for me the words “fountain of youth.”

So I did some research on that.  I read that Ponce de Leon gets the reputation of searching everywhere for the Fountain of Youth - and you can find a place in Florida with his name on it - and you can drink that water.

I found out it’s not true - it’s all legend. Not bad if you’re running a place in Florida with that legend.

He died at 47 from an arrow wound - when fighting some native Floridians.

Then I read that’s a human thing - that is found in various legends and stories from way, way, way back - well into B.C. Before Christ.

Then I read about plastic surgery - being a 12 billion dollar industry here in the U.S. and all kinds of “staying young forever” exercises and foods and practices.

I read that 5 key foods are: Veggies like carrots and tomatoes, soy, chocolate, coconut oil, and eggs. I’m sure those industries would want that promoted.

Just read any magazine in the doctor or dentist’s offices and you’ll find many more suggestions.

Health…. Health …. Health…..

Exercise, exercise, exercise…..


I also noticed references to various novels and movies that get into this issue of aging - going backwards and forwards - for example, starting at 80 and going towards our back in the womb again.

In high school I played the part of a 20 year older who reverted back to becoming a baby. The lines in Act 3 were easy to memorize as I sat there in my baby carriage.

As priest I’ve heard many person’s stories - so I was fascinated by the movie, Moonstruck, when Loretta’s mom, Rose Castorinia, played by Olivia Dukakis,  keeps asking everyone the reason why men cheat. That’s what her husband Cosmo was into. She is not satisfied with any answer till someone says, “They are scared of death!”

Is that all of us - at some point?  It’s my experience - for some people yes and for some people no.

I’ve always asked, “Am I?”

If that’s true, why wouldn’t everyone want communion - the Bread of life called “Jesus” - to eat him up and live forever.


The title of my homily is, “Whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Chew on that during this Mass - especially when you come up for communion.

Take a look all the people around you - with faith - Christians say, “Because of Christ, we’ll be with him and each other forever.”

And for homework, read that 6th chapter of the Gospel of John. It’s for all us.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

August 16, 2015


If we were all blind,
how would we be prejudiced?
Voice? Accent? Scent? Touch?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Painting, The Blind Leading
the Blind, Pieter Bruegel,
the elder, 1568