Saturday, January 16, 2016

January 16, 2016


Two blessings:
the ability to say 
some day and back when….
To have dreams and memories….
To look to the Future and the Past….
To know there is a Spring and an Autumn,
To enjoy inwardly youth and old age....
To know I am going to do and I did that ….
In the meanwhile, right now
I have to take the garbage out
and empty the dish washer.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Friday, January 15, 2016



The title of my homily for this Friday in the first week in Ordinary Time is, “Regrets and Recovery.”

R and R

That should take care of today’s two readings.


It sounds to me that today’s first reading from 1st Samuel is loaded with regrets. [Cf. 1st Samuel 8: 4-7, 10-22a.]  It’s also loaded with hindsight. Hindsight with negative consequences.

Of course parts of scriptures are written in the present tense - but in reality they are looking back.

A group in Israel comes to Samuel and tell him they want to have a king.

Samuel responds by telling them all that having a king will entail. It will mean you might lose your sons - your land - heavy duty taxing from you - tithing - big time tithing, etc. etc. etc.

In other words there are consequences. And they are consequences that will cost you and you will regret your decision in wanting to have a king.

It could be switching a job - a moving to a new house - getting a divorce - what have you.

The title of my homily is, “Regrets and Recovery.” 

Part one could also be entitled, “Cost and Consequences.”

It could also have the title, “Foresight and Hindsight”. That would be another reflective twosome for a homily.


Today’s gospel - Mark 2: 1-12 is a great text for reflection.

We can’t see them  - but I have a theory every person on the planet is carrying a back pack on their back. You’ve seen kids going down the street coming home or going into school with back packs.

Well everyone has their back pack. 

Question as in the Capital One Advertisements: “What’s in your pack?”

People carry their sins, their mistakes, their consequences, their regrets,  their story, their autobiography, on their backs.

And our past can paralyze us a bit.  Obviously, some more than others.

This guy in today’s gospel is paralyzed and his four friends carry him to Jesus.

They can’t worm their way through the crowd. Wait your turn.

So they go up on the roof and then  through the roof.

And they lower him in front of Jesus - and Jesus heals the man - starting with forgiveness of his sins.

And the man gets those consequences of his sins - off his back and he stands up straight healed and all are astounded and glorify God saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

Let Jesus heal you.


The title of my homily is, “Regrets and Recovery.”

Take some time to check what’s in your pack - the stuff that might be wearing you our and wearing you down.
January 15, 2016


The Eucharist, Christ in the bread,
settled down on the lonely hand, on
the lonely tongue, as if he/she were
the only person in the full church.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Thursday, January 14, 2016

January 14, 2016


What are your sacred words?
Make a list of your 10 top words
and then pick your top 3 in order
of importance?

For example:
Meals - with pie
Cards [Playing]

Top three:
                 Jesus [On the other side of the                          door into God]

Tomorrow my list will be different. Smile.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

January 13, 2016


Here are 3 more 3 word sentences to
practice saying to an another in a mirror. 

You are awesome.
You are lovable.
You are thoughtful.
You are challenging.
You are demanding.
You aren’t listening.
You aren’t careful.
You are helpful.
You are cautious.
You are good.
You are sweet.
You are easy.
You are lazy.
You are lying.
You are quiet.
You are precious.
You are giving.
You seem nervous.
You seem scared.
You seem edgy.
You are not.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Tuesday, January 12, 2016



The title of my homily for this Tuesday in the first week of Ordinary Time is, “Pause Or Check Your Shoe Size  Before You Put Your Foot In Your Mouth.”

How many times do we have to misjudge someone before we stop misjudging someone?


We’re at Country Buffet and we see this big - big person - going back for seconds. And we think to ourselves, “Fatso, no wonder you’re so fat - going back and for seconds.”  Then we notice they’re not getting this round of food for themselves, but for their mom or someone in a wheelchair right next to them.

We’re sitting on the porch. It’s summer. We see someone with their dog on the other side of the street. The dog does his or her business on another person’s lawn. Then the dog walker walks away without scooping up the poop. We think, “Those are the people who make this world one selfish planet.” Five minutes later we see the dog walker coming back with a plastic bag and their super dooper pooper scooper.

So and so is in the restaurant in the booth across from us with this other woman. Wow. She’s gorgeous. We think, “Hope his wife doesn’t know about this.” Surprise his wife walks in and says “Hi sister-in-law - I got caught in traffic. There was an accident. Did you order yet?  I’m starving.”

The title of my homily is, “Pause Or Check Your Shoe Size  Before You Put Your Foot In Your Mouth.” Or: How many times do we have to misjudge someone before we stop misjudging someone?


In today’s first reading from the first Book of Samuel Eli judges Hanna to be drunk and says to her, “How long will you make a drunken show of yourself? Sober up from your wine.” [Cf. 1 Samuel 1:14

She says, “It isn’t that my Lord, I am an unhappy woman, I have had neither wine nor liquor; I was only pouring out my troubles to the Lord.”

Did Eli learn from his foot in mouth moment?

In today’s gospel the crazy man in the temple knows who Jesus is - the Holy One of God! - but misreads Jesus’ motive for coming into the temple.  Yet Jesus heals him and the whole crowd is amazed. [Cf. Mark 1: 21-28]


So a learning for today is to pause more - before our tongue jumps words out of our mouth - to make room for our foot.

Pause: think of the first 3 letters in the word mistake - or misjudge - or misread - or misquote - or mislead - or misconnect - or misperception - or mislabel - or misinform - or  misappropriate…. Mis:  the prefix simply meaning miss. Pause - something might be missing. Sometimes we might not know the whole story. Maybe we haven’t been called to be on jury duty to judge our neighbor.

Pause: before speaking. Maybe we’re wrong. Maybe what we think we’re seeing is not what we’re seeing. Maybe what we’re spreading is rumor, gossip, whispers - and not the real story, the whole story, and we’re simply putting you know what on someone else’s lawn - and not cleaning or clearing it up.


We all know the old story about the town gossip and the man with the wheelbarrow. Every day a man walked home from his gardening job with his wheelbarrow. Every day he stopped in for a beer on his way home - and left his wheelbarrow out in front. It was a safe town.  One day - when about to leave - the rain came pouring down. A buddy said, “My car is out back. Let me drive you home and you can pick up your wheelbarrow  on the way to work in the morning.  Well, the town gossip spread the rumor that he was dead drunk on the floor of the bar - all night long. She peaked out her front window every hour on the hour.  The guy with the wheelbarrow got wind of what the town gossip had done, so that night - on his way home from work - he parked his wheelbarrow right under her window just across the street from the bar.

January 12, 2016


Here are some key 3 word sentences to
practice saying to oneself  in a mirror. 

I was wrong.
I am sorry.
I love you.
I need you.
I thank you.
I am worried.
I am lost.
I am confused.
I am hungry.
I am hurting.
I’m in love.
I’m in hate.
I am lonely.
I am asking.
I am thirsty.
I am sad.
I am happy.

I am waiting.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Monday, January 11, 2016



The title of my homily for this Monday in the First Week in Ordinary Time is, “On Being and Not Being the Favorite.”

How many times have we heard parents and others say, “I have no favorites”?

How many times have we said to ourselves in response, “Hello!”

How many times have we thought to ourselves about teachers, coaches, parents, bosses: “You’re playing favorites”?

When challenged - people will sometimes say, “Well, it all depends what we’re dealing with here. Sometimes so and so is better with this and so and so is better with that. And I like this about this person and that about that person. So it all depends.”

Of course - sometimes.


I love this topic of favorites - because I enjoy watching the dynamics of daily life - and I like to needle people - because I sense that the issue of likes and dislikes, favorites and non-favorites is very much part of the fabric of life.

I think many modern folks are missing out on the great learnings that kids and parents can experience when they have lots of kids. And some of those learnings can come from comparisons and favorites or perceived favorites. Of course, how many kids people have has lots of different issues going on.  Moreover, this issue can be learnt and felt in classrooms and teams and Thanksgiving and what have together with cousins.

How many parents learn how to parent from that first and second child and the third and fourth have it so much easier. Yet the oldest have some of the raw material for different types of growth than the youngest.

In our family, my sister Peggy was my dad’s favorite. And just last week I heard my sister Mary say, “I was certainly not the favorite.”

In our family we joked that my brother was my mom’s favorite - as is true for many first sons in an Irish Catholic family. Is that true for Italians or Filipinos? I don’t know. Or is every family different?

We all have heard Leo Tolstoi’s comment in his novel, Anna Karenina, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Anna Kerenina, [1875-1877], pt. I, Chapter I. Is that true? I don’t know. Read the book to see what he means.

We were a happy family, but I was either the 3rd or 4th out of 4 favorite.


I began thinking about this today for this homily because it’s one of my favorite topics and it’s an issue loud and clear in today’s readings.

In today’s first reading from the first Book of Samuel, a man named Elkanah had two wives: Hannah and Peninnah.  What would that be like? What’s it like in a harem? [Cf. 1 Samuel 1:1-8]

Today’s text says that he liked and loved Hannah more than Peninnah - but it was Peninnah who gave him sons and daughters and it was Hannah who didn’t have any kids. Did you hear what today’s text says, “Her rival - [that is Peninnah] to upset her [that is Hannah] - turned it into a constant reproach to her that the Lord left her barren.”

Woo! What would that be like?

It’s the stuff of the Scriptures - family dynamics.

And in today’s gospel Jesus calls 4 men - Peter, Andrew, James and John. [Cf. Mark 1: 14-20]

Obviously Andrew would be the best, but Jesus made Peter and John his favorites - and John in the gospel of John is called the Beloved - and sat next to Jesus at the Last Supper.

Were the others jealous?  Did any of this nag Judas?


Just some stuff to think about.

Maybe there is some stuff about growing up - that is still lingering  - that we could look at and laugh.

Maybe we do some needling that hurts others.

Now as to favorite priests, we now have Father Bob - sitting right here with us today - who will be your favorite in 6 months and you’ll ask him to do everything. Right!
January 11, 2016


And God said to me, “I’m giving you
one choice - just one choice - on how
you want me to be to you. Choose one
and that’s the way I will be to you.”

At first I said back, “You’re kidding!”

And God said, “No, I am not kidding.”

So I said, “God give me a hint.
Tell me the possibilities.”

And once more God said, “I’m giving
you one choice. Choose and that’s
the way I’ll be to you. Trust me.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I’m confused.
What did others choose? Tell me a few.”

“Love…. Peace …. Comfort …. Presence…
Joy …. Protection….Hope…. Eternal life….
Mercy .... Forgiveness.... I got your back....”

“I don’t know God. I don’t know what to say,
I need some time - and I’ll get back to you.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Sunday, January 10, 2016



The title of my homily for this feast of Christ’s Baptism is, “Chosen.”

I chose that title and that theme from the first sentence from one of today’s possible first readings - Isaiah 42: 1, “Thus says the Lord: Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased.”

And we’ll find that theme in today’s gospel when Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. The Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus and a voice from heaven says, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”


So after spotting that theme of being chosen, I began thinking about what “Chosen” is about.

It hit me that This theme of chosen - being chosen - feeling I’m chosen - can evoke some powerful feelings.

We’ve all heard stories about issues of being chosen when it comes to sports. Who starts - who doesn’t? Who makes the team - who doesn’t? We’ve heard parents screaming from the stands at coaches for not putting their son or daughter into the game.

It happens in academics. Somewhere along the line we choose or accepted ourselves as a A or a B or a C student. That choice or acceptance could have sculpted our future classroom and life experiences. Who makes the National Honor Society - who doesn’t? That might have brought scholarship money or getting into a college of our choice. It could also have brought bragging rights. Not making the National Honor Society or a  Dean’s List can impact our whole life. It can also cause angry phone calls. It can cause people to take their kids out of a school or write letters or make nasty phone calls to principals and to teachers.

Being chosen happens at work - who gets jobs - who gets the glory - who gets a name for herself or himself.

It can happen in families. One kid feels that mom and dad prefers an older or another brother or sister much more than me.

A key word that is often found in all these situations is the word, “fair”.

Listen to kids for 30 minutes and you’ll hear the word “fair” a half dozen times. It could be size of cake cuts and slices or the amount of frosting on a piece of cake.

Another key theme when it comes to this issue of being chosen is comparisons.

Then there is the opposite - being rejected - and feelings of being rejected or being in second or last place.

I’ve heard people talk about so and so being a teacher’s favorite - and getting an award - and that person is still angry about a specific teacher and the other kid and this happened 55 years ago.

Not fair.

Take the major reality of life - falling in love and marriage. Here humans can experience both being chosen by another as well as rejection by another. A wedding and a divorce - and all that leads up to both these realities - the stuff of life. 

I played baseball for the Bay Ridge Robins in my grammar school years and the manager put his brother in to play first base the whole season - except for one out. That was my only chance  to star. I didn’t. I sat on the bench that whole season. So I can relate to being a sub - a person in waiting.

Not fair.


Somewhere along the line you might have heard mention of a book entitled, The Chosen. It was chosen for various awards. It sold 3.4 million copies worldwide. It was written by Chaim Potok - a writer and a rabbi. He served in the Korean War as a U.S. Army Jewish chaplain.

It deals with two Jewish boys - Danny and Reuven - who grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. It deals with their fathers. It deals with religion - and different groups within a religion. It deals with comparisons.

Danny Saunders one of the boys was chosen since childhood to be a rabbi of a strict Jewish Sect when he grows up. His  friend, Reuven Malter, is from another Jewish sect - more liberal.

It won’t ruin the book to say that Reuven in the end decides to be a rabbi and Danny the Chosen One decides to become a psychologist.

The book begins with both boys playing baseball for their respective Jewish  religious teams. Danny hits Reuven in the face with a baseball - forcing him to go to the hospital and Danny goes to see the kid he hit in the face smashing his glasses.

It takes a while, but they become lifetime friends.

The book deals with how fathers raise their sons - and how fathers deal with sons who choose a different way of life than the one’s their fathers choose for them.

A reader - especially a man - will certainly do a lot of thinking about his dad - and compares their dad to the dads of their friends.  For example, in The Chosen Reuven notices that  Danny’s father, the Rabbi, only speaks to - better - at Danny. And when he speaks it’s only religious comments. All else is silence. And surprise Reuven’s father is the one who gets Danny to read a lot more than Jewish religion material.

It will get a father thinking about a son’s choices.

The book is weak on women, moms and daughters - but the issue of choices - influencing - what we want for our kids - certainly will hit us.

So too the book will get us thinking about religious choices - going to worship - not going to worship - being stretched and being challenged - all the struggles young people go through as they move into their futures.


When we read the Gospels, when we hear the story of Jesus, we hear over and over again the question of Father and Son. We also heard in the gospel last Sunday - the feast of the Holy Family - about Joseph and Mary searching for Jesus - who stayed behind in Jerusalem - feeling he has to do his Father - God’s - business.

Certainly he surprised Mary and perhaps Joseph if he was still alive when Jesus a carpenter becomes a rabbi.

Was he surprised when he heard in the waters that day - a voice from on high, “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased”?

I’ve read that Jesus wanted everyone he met to experience the same feeling he felt in being recognized, chosen, called, and told he was pleasing to God our Father. So he went about choosing and calling people by name.


Each of us has to deal with this issue of “chosen”.

As well as the theme of fairness and comparisons.

All our lives we wrestle with how our dads and moms saw us - interacted with us.

We’re here in Church - so we deal with God and religion issues.

Catholics - Christians - Jews - Mormons - Muslims - deal with chosen questions.

I would assume each religious group, parish, sect, sub-groups - has to deal with feelings of who we are. Am I in the right religion - the right community?

I would assume we have to listen to Jesus on how we see, how we treat each other, Jesus had the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Scribes, judging him constantly.

I would assume that issue of judging others - feeling better or worse than others - because of looks, clothes, skin color, weight, height, age, nationality, background, place of origin - what have you - being chosen or feeling I’m on the bench or not even on the team - are life issues.


In giving out communion - especially at high school Masses - I’ve seen kids having the name of their boyfriend or girlfriend - ballpoint penned on the palm of their hand. “Body of Christ! Amen.”

Well, I would think it would be a good reflection to imagine ourselves going up the aisle to God in communion and opening up the palm of God’s hand. Surprise we see our name carved right there. [Cf. Isaiah 46:16]

Then we look God in the eye - eye to eye - and see his smile and his love for us. Then to hear God say, “You are my beloved daughter - my beloved Son - with you I am well pleased.”

And hopefully, we figure out the great life message of Christianity. Jesus starts as a baby - with great drama - angels and shepherds and Magi - come to see him. Jesus is the chosen one. Then we get hints of possible rejection.  Then we realize by Lent that Jesus is the Big Rejected One. The beatings, the crown of thorns, the death on the Cross, is the ultimate rejection. That’s Good Friday. Easter Sunday - the Resurrection of Jesus - screams out - loud and clear - that Jesus is the Great Chosen One. Amen.
January 10, 2016


Did you know your name is at a place
at a table in the banquet? It is. Okay
some people better show up wearing
a wedding garment - but some prodigals
just have to show up - and they will be
welcomed. You’re kidding? Nope. Well,
that’s how I read the Good News. 
How about you? Are you going to show
up and look for your name and your table? Are you going to sit down and go, “Phew!
I made it. Can’t believe it, but I made it.
Thank You God. Thank you! Wow!"

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
Cf. Luke 15;
Matthew 25;
Matthew 22: 11-14