Saturday, February 6, 2016

February 6, 2016


First I have to feel uncomfortable.
I have to have a sense that this is
not working right. I reach for a tissue
and I’m holding sandpaper. The 
contrast between comfortable and
uncomfortable is the first step and then
the next step is obvious, “I see better”
and go for it. If I don’t, then I know
I don’t feel uncomfortable enough yet....

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Friday, February 5, 2016



The title of my homily is, “Four Women.”

Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Agatha.

Ten years ago or so I read that the Church celebrates 4 great women in these 4 colder months: Cecilia [November], Lucy [December], Agnes [January] and today Agatha [February].

Cecilia - is the patron saint of music,
Lucy - is the patron saint of eyes and light,
Agnes - is the patron saint of gentleness
Agatha - is the patron saint of breast cancer and earthquakes

They are all Italians - but way before Italy became Italy.

·       Cecilia - Born Rome - dies in Sicily.
·       Lucy - From Syracuse - Southeast Corner of Sicily
·       Agnes - From Rome -
·       Agatha - From Palermo - Sicily


This homily I want to ask the question: “Who are your favorite four women?”

Today’s gospel - Mark 6:14-29 - we have these women: Herod’s daughter and Herodias, who is Herod’s second wife - who was his brother’s Philip’s wife.

Intrigue and slippery sin and nasty manipulations and lust run rampant in Herod’s history.

There is better history - closer to factual - about Herod’s life - than there is about David’s life.

David benefitted from a lot of re-writes. I even heard a Rabbi talk about David not necessarily being the one who killed a giant of a man named Goliath. There is evidence in the scriptures about someone else being the actual killer - but the story is transferred to David.

The Bible is loaded with stories about a lot of people.

So too Christianity.

So too our lives.


If you were asked to come up with your four favorite women saints or holy people, who would you come up with?

Here’s a possible four: Mother Cabrini, Mother Teresa, St. Theresa of Lisieux, Saint Teresa of Avila.

If you were asked  to list four women who did outstanding things for others, would anyone list these 4? Dorothy Day, Rosa Parks, Barbara Jordan, and how about the British Nurse, Edith Cavell shot by the Germans Oct. 12, 1915.

Wouldn’t it be something if Dorothy Day made it to sainthood - for her tremendous work with the poor?  I heard that when this said in the presence of Cardinal Spellman, he said, “Over my dead body.”

I can’t but think about the impact her canonization would have - her having had an abortion. Wouldn’t that give great hope to countless women and men?

How about 4 women writers, or 4 women painters, or 4 women world leaders, etc. etc. etc.

How about 4 women in our own lives: our moms or grandmas or neighbors or some parish woman. I would certainly add my sister Peggy, who had a great life as an IHM Scranton Nun.


That’s your homework. Discuss all this with yourselves and each other. 
February 5, 2016


Once again I’m playing the blame game -
even naming names. I do it all the time -
but there always seems to be one name 
I leave off the list. Of course, it’s my name.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Thursday, February 4, 2016

February 4, 2016


It’s always something.

The right front tire just doesn’t feel right.

The air conditioner is not getting
any air to the back of the van.

Someone left the bathroom window open
and let in this dang mosquito. Uuuuuum!

Mrs. Mary Manana is late again.

I was nervous, so I started biting my
nails and I bit some skin to the blood.

The pear looks like it has acne.  

The mellon doesn’t have a “thunk” sound.

The butter is too soft. I like cold butter.
Somebody around here left it out again.

The movie was good but there was one
scene that I didn’t think was plausible.

The dinner was perfect, but how come they
never have chunky blue cheese dressing.

The concert was good, but they didn’t
play, “Yellow Rose of Texas.”

Someone always ruins everything by
saying, “It’s always something.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February 3, 2016


It’s not good if you don’t have
a favorite song - a song you
start to sing when you hear it
on the elevator or on your car radio -
a song that grabs you in the gut.
A few words or the melody really 
moves you or connects you with 
a memory.... Wait - pause - start to 
hum and see if your song appears 
on your lips or in your belly.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

February 2, 2016


Too - too - often - potato chips -
slip between our lips without
our tasting any one of them.
We don’t savor the salt flavor
of each chip - the salt that
sticks to our tongue. Too - too -
often our years slip by so quickly
and unconsciously - without our
even tasting the delicious salt on
each decisive and significant moment
of our lives and we toss the empty
bag of time into a plastic trash can
and we grab a fresh bag of chips.
There’s nothing worse than stale
potato chips - dreams that fell to the
floor - which are swept away the
next morning - another day - too -
too - often never savored or tasted.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
I learned this theme about not being
mindful from Thich Nhat Hanh,
the Vietnamese Buddhist  monk.

In the Google search engine, type in "Mindfulness Thich Nhat Hanh" and you'll be able to watch and hear Thich Nhat Hanh teach about mindfulness.



The title of my homily for this feast of the Presentation is, “Faith Bucket List.”


Let me look at the phrase, “Bucket List” first. It's rather recent.

So I did a little research last night and there are several examples of the phrase, “Bucket List” before the 2007 movie with that name - starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.

Most connect the phrase with a list of things to do before we kick the bucket.

The movie made the phrase popular and a lot better known.

Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in the movie, “Bucket List” play two men in a cancer ward - who are terminal - so they take off to accomplish all the wishes on their bucket list of dreams to accomplish before they die.

I’m sure you have used the phrase or have been asked the question by someone who used the phrase. We all have things more or less that we would like to do before we die.

I said to myself, “This can’t be that brand new an idea or a phrase.”

I’m sure it’s in Shakespeare and in many a poem.

Sure enough I remember reading about the Make-a-Wish Foundation. That goes back to 1980 - in Phoenix Arizona. It too spread around the world as well: to help fulfill a wish that some kid has before he or she dies.

And obviously a nursing home could be labeled at times, “House of Regrets.”


In today’s gospel reading for the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple,  Luke reports about  a wish Simeon has before he dies.  He wants to see the Christ - the Anointed One.

He was told in a revelation from the Holy Spirit within him - this would happen - before he died - and sure enough we have his  prayer in the temple that day when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus up to the temple in Jerusalem  to be consecrated and blessed. His prayer is the “Nunc Dimittis” - Now you can dismiss your servant, O Lord.

His wish is fulfilled before he dies.


The title of my homily is, “Faith Bucket List.”

Let me now jump to faith related wishes in our bucket of life wishes.

Here are some possible faith related wishes:
  • That a daughter or son comes back to the faith  - the faith we brought them up in.
  • That grand kids be baptized.
  • That so and so be reconciled with so and so.
  • That they feel forgiven by God for a mistake they made 50 years ago.
  • That their spouse die before them, so he or she won’t feel the pain of loss that the one who remains will  feel.
  • That their faith in life after this life increases so they won’t fear that death is the end of everything, forever and ever.

That's a few I have heard, what are you faith related hopes?


I would think that our “Faith Bucket List” is the stuff of prayer and connection with God.

I’m sure at many Masses we present ourselves - our families - our neighbors - our world - to the Lord - for the Lord’s help and blessings.

Monday, February 1, 2016

February 1, 2016


What works for you?

Is this how life works?

First we do lots of things
that we hope will work for us.

Next we come up with what
works and doesn't work 
for us without realizing it.

Next we become conscious
of what works for us and
that’s how we do life
for the rest of our life.

Is it as simple as that?

So once more,
“What works for you?”

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016



The title of my homily for this 4th Monday in Ordinary Time is, “Being Yelled At!”


In today’s two readings, we have scenes where people are yelled at.

So let me say a little bit about being yelled at - but I’m not sure just what to do or say about all this.

In today’s first reading from 2nd Samuel a man named Shimei throws stones and words at David. And David’s officers and soldiers want to know if they can go over and lop off his head.

David  says “No, if my own son is trying to kill me, let his guy alone and let him curse me.”

And the reading tells us, “David and his men continued on the road…. while Shimei … all the while was cursing and throwing stones at David.”

In today’s gospel a strange ranger from the tombs yells out at Jesus, “What have you do to with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High. I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”

The guy is filled with demons - a legion of demons. In the Roman army a Legion was 5000 soldiers.

And Jesus send this legion of demons into herds of pigs - swine - it says 2000 - and they ran down the hill  and into the sea of Galilee.

I remember standing in a boat on the Lake of Galilee - seeing what I was seeing - and I saw a cliff and thought of this scene - and then a beach - and wondered where this took place.


The title of my homily is, “Being Yelled At!”

I was trying to remember any time I was yelled at.

A guy in Bermuda started cursing and making obscene gestures at me for being white. I assumed that because of what he was yelling. I was with a cruise group visiting a local port. I quickly ran back to where the gang I was with were.

In Mansfield, Ohio I added “and women” to the reading of the scriptures and some guy yelled out from the benches, “It says just men.” I was trying to be P.C.

And on the Lower East Side we used to say Mass at the convent above the school on East 4th Street. We’d go out the  back gate of East 3rd Street rectory and walk down the street to the school, ring the bell, and a nun would hear the bell and take the elevator down to the 1st floor - walk to the front door and let us in. Well a few times in the summer some guys across the street from the school would be sleeping on the fire escape landing - and yell out at 6:25 in the morning - at the priest was standing there, “Hey we know where you’re going and we know what you’re doing.”  The elevator couldn’t come quick enough.

Those are the only 3 moments I could come up with from my life today thinking about all this

What about you? Were you ever yelled at and how did you react and what did you learn from the moment.


From today’s readings I think the learnings could be.

Be calm, as David was. That was his reaction. Don’t cut off heads. There are worse things others could attack me for. And then move on.

Next, what would be a learning from Jesus and the pigs?  Maybe it could be this: “When yelled at, be an instrument of the Lord’s peace.”

In today’s gospel Jesus sends the demons into the pigs - and they run down the hill and are drowned. Wouldn’t it be great if the echoes of anger people yell at us during a life time - if they could just run away - and stampede into the ocean of nothing.


As I said in the beginning, I’m really not that sure just what to do about being yelled at.

Maybe twist the yell of the demon plagued guy in today’s gospel and say, “Jesus do something to help me with all this. Thanks.”

We can’t send demons into  pigs or dogs or cats, but we can send peace to the other person.

Sunday, January 31, 2016



The title of my homily for this Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C] is, “Reflections on Rejections.”

What are your reflections on rejections?

How have you dealt with the rejections of life?

In the beauty contests of life - no one wins every one of them.

How have you done when you came in second place - or you didn’t even place - or you didn’t even make the team - or the cut - and you feel cut?

Have you ever said or felt like saying, “What am I chopped liver?” or “What am I chum for sharks?” or  “I feel like you’re throwing me under the bus.”

Rejections can feel like a massage with sandpaper. It can be tough being phased-out, fired, retired, or forgotten.

Tough topic for today.


Today’s readings triggered  the topic and the theme for this homily and it’s not even Lent.

In today’s first reading Jeremiah gives us some reflections on being rejected.

Prophets are rejected - especially when they tell the truth. As we know - the truth often hurts - but it can set us free.  

However, when people sense a correction or a suggestion that will hurt is coming - the speaker, the prophet, is often rejected.   

When we're baptized, we're anointed prophets, priests and kings - and queens. 

However, being a prophet - speaking up - let's be honest, it's a calling we often avoid. Everyone knows the messenger is often shot - shot down. 

Parents are often prophets when they are trying to tell their kids they can date better. But kids won’t listen till they are crying in their beer - another choice prophets and parents are always screaming about - telling about - hinting about - and rejected for.

Jeremiah hears the Lord telling him to stand up and tell others all that I command you. Then the Lord adds, “Be not crushed on their account!”

The Lord tells Jeremiah that I “have made you a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass.” Prophets need good bullet proof vests.
That’s the first reading.

Today’s gospel has Jesus being celebrated till he starts challenging - especially his home town. He fires back at them that prophets are never accepted in their home town.

Once more parents and siblings tell someone in the family when they are playing with fire - and they are going to be burnt - if they continue as is.

Rejections - reactions - remarks soon follow.

"Well, what about when you...?"

Today’s gospel ends with his whole town driving Jesus out of town. They want to throw him off a hill on which their town was built - but he passes through their midst and went away. I don’t know how Jesus did that, but that’s how Luke tells the story.


We Christians have as our central symbol the Cross. It’s THE ultimate sign of rejection.

We have that big gigantic cross up front - at St. John Neumann’s Church. The big one here is in the back - off to the side on the way out. 

Big crosses  scream out the message of rejection loud. I heard that some didn’t want that big cross at St. John Neumann’s.

Sometimes I think that big cross is too much - too tough - too in your face. 

Would butterflies and the beautiful birds of the air be better? How about the Risen Christ? 

I wonder at times how much in the  past 15 or so years, how has that big cross at St. John Neumann influenced the reflective life of those who come to Mass here. 

I got the thought it could be even tougher - if it was a really blood crucifix. Or what would it be like to have added to the wall the cross is attached to - a black paint sprayed on graffiti word, “Reject.”

Imagine having that word as a nickname?

I don’t know about you, but I never liked preaching that says that our rejections and our sins - were hitting and hurting Jesus the day he died on Calvary.  

Yet - yet - yet - I have to keep on reflecting on the impact of my mistakes. How do my words, my sins, my way of treating others, my gossip, hit the  Body of Christ.

The title of my homily for today is, “Reflections on Rejections.”


I’m sure you heard the poem “When Jesus Came to Birmingham.” It's Birmingham in England - from which our city in Alabama is named.  

It’s a poem by G. A. Studdert-Kennedy. It goes like this:


When Jesus came to Golgotha, they hanged Him on a tree,
They drove great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep,
For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.

When Jesus came to Birmingham, they simply passed Him by.
They would not hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die;
For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,
They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain.

Still Jesus cried, 'Forgive them, for they know not what they do, '
And still it rained the winter rain that drenched Him through and through;
The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,
And Jesus crouched against a wall, and cried for Calvary. 


This will be a good homily if we reflect on rejections and then we treat one another better this week than last  week. 

This will be a good homily if we reflect on rejections and then we love one another better this week than last week.

How can we love one another better? Answer: by putting into practice all the things what love is like in today’s second reading: being patient, being kind, not being jealous, not being rude, not seeking our own interests, not rejoicing when another makes a mistake, and on and on and on.

There are lots of people crouching against a wall and crying for Calvary.

Translation: the Birmingham poem triggers the thought of suffering alone being worse than suffering with others around.

There are lots of people who feel all alone because they have experienced the one or all of the 4  D’s: Divorced, Dumped, Dissed or Dropped.

Then there are the little rejections. 

How many times have we been in a conversation and someone else jumps right into the middle of  our conversation in person or by cell or iPhone? 

How many times have we experienced someone yawning in our face, looking at their watch or looking over our shoulder as we're telling them a fabulous story? 


The Bible says very early on that it's not good to be alone. Even Adam and Eve hid from God - who wanted to walk with them in the cool of the evening.

I have in my room a Styrofoam cup with some writing on it. It's something someone told me about a girl in West Virginia. She was in a small college and was doing horrible and an academic dean asked her why she was there. 

She answered, “I came here to be went with and I ain’t been went with yet.”

When I heard that at a coffee break in a small parish I was preaching at in Southern Ohio just across the Ohio River from West Virginia, I said, “Let me write that down?" And I fished out of my pocket a ballpoint pen and wrote those words on my Styrofoam coffee cup - without spilling my coffee.

There are millions of people on this planet who cry that same cry, “I came here to be went with and I ain’t been went with yet.”

The opposite of rejection is acceptance.

Our pope has declared this year, the year of “Welcome” - “Mercy” - “You matter!”

The Christian is called to be Christ - to be like Christ - to welcome all people. The Christian is called to spend time and love and self with others - and take away some of those feelings of rejection that so many people feel.

Where to start: in house - in one's own home.

Where to start: in heart - in one's own heart.


This week, I would challenge myself and all people to start with oneself and with God.

Unless we feel acceptance and being loved by God - who sent Jesus into our own home and heart, to accept us - then we won’t be bringing that God of love - that God love - to others.

If we feel rejected by God, then we might do the same to others by rejecting others.

So start with self and then bring the love God feels towards us - towards others.

When we love one another, we are taking away the rejections of our world. Amen. 
January 31, 2016


Crepitude? It’s the creeping crawling feeling
of aches and pains that can come with aging.

Getting older, some say, “Crud!” or “Crap!” - 
when they feel  the creep of crepitude. Those
two words are pain sounding four letter words. 

Note: crepitude is not yet in the English dictionary.
The French dictionary, yes, but it’s a rare word.

What about two new words: "cruditude" and 
"crapitude"? No! I'll stick with "crepitude".

"Decrepitude" is a normal English word that can be heard in the early rounds of a Spelling Bee?

I like crepitude better - so I'm pushing it here.

Crepitude can also be found in our spirit and our
bones - usually arriving on cold days near the end
of January. Ugh! We still have to get through
February and half of March till we get to Spring.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016