Saturday, April 23, 2016

April 23, 2016


William Shakespeare - dates - were from April 23, 1564 to April 23, 1616.

“What’s in a name…?”

“I’ll note you in my book of memory.”

“He’s sudden if a thing comes into his head.”

“An honest tale speeds best being plainly told.”

“There is something in the wind.”

“How long a time lies in one little word.”

“Play out the play.”

“All the world’s a stage ….”

“The play’s the thing/ Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.”

“The web of our life is a mingled yarn, good and ill together.”

“Let me tell the world.”

“There is a history in all men’s lives.”

“We are in God’s hand.”

“Bait the hook well: this fish will bite.”

“Everyone can master a grief but he that has it.”

“Brevity is the soul of wit.”

“I have bought / Golden opinions from all sorts of people.”

“Come, give us a taste of your quality.”

“To be or not to be: that is the question.”

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

“Lord, what fools these mortals be.”

“A politician … one that could circumvent God.”

“Words pay no debts.”

“Good counselors lack no clients.”

“Necessity’s sharp pinch.”

“Pray you now, forgive and forget.”

“The wheel is come full circle: I am here.”

“My salad days / When I was green in judgment.”

“Nothing emboldens sin so much as mercy.”

“You pay a great deal too dear for what’s given freely.”

“Let us not burden our remembrances / With a heaviness that’s gone.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Is this a first?  I spotted with today's newspapers - April 23, 2017 - the above picture on page 13 of the Target Ad  18 page Input Insert.  Is this a first?  How about that!  Nice going Target!

A First

Friday, April 22, 2016

April 22, 2016


Just say something to the person right
there with you: while holding the door, 
on the plane, on the short elevator ride -
even if it's only to the second floor.

"Hi!" "Beautiful day." "How's it going?"

"Welcome home!" "Where have you been?"

Hey! You never know what a word -
just a greeting - or an eye shake and
a head nod - might mean - to the person 
in the car right next to you at the red light. 

Just say something. Eye to eye something.

At the end of a day, at the end of a life - 
all those words might have taken flesh - 
and both of you might have met Jesus 
Christ in each other's life: at a well, 
on a road, at a table, on another's cross -
and both of you experienced Easter Joy.

© Andy Costello Reflections, 2016

Thursday, April 21, 2016

April 21, 2016


Sun sliding down the sky into the west -
into the water.... The end of another day. Thank You God. Thank You God.

The dark of land - low lying 
mountains - holding the bay  in her arms. Thank
You God. Thank You God.

The glistening tablecloth of water

covering the top of the in-between. 
Thank You God. Thank You God.

The slow gradual of dark night bringing

peace and grace and sleep to my soul.
Thank You, God.  Thank You, God.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

April 20, 2016


“Oh yeah!” What a prayer!

To say that to God like an athlete
pointing to God in thanks after a
great hit or a great catch: “Oh yeah!”

Seeing red roses or red hair or a
red crayon.... Oh the possibilities.

“Oh yeah!” Blue skies, white clouds,
rainbows, family and friends: “Oh yeah”

Babies crying, lovers sighing,
“I love you. I love you.” “Oh yeah!”

“Oh yeah!” What a prayer!

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

April 19, 2016


Sometimes students in a classroom
count how many times a certain teacher
says a certain phrase - or word.

We had a history professor who said,
“Do you see?” 249 times in one class.

I heard of a high school religion teacher
who talked about the Emmaus story in the
gospel of Luke so many times that the 
class nicknamed her "Sister Mary Emmaus".

I know that the song, "Hello Dolly" keeps
repeating "Hello Dolly" over and over again.

So I was wondering how many times in
a given day do I say to myself, “I hope….”

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016



The titled of my homily for this 4th Tuesday after Easter is, “Three Sentences That Grabbed Me.”

Last night I read today’s readings and three sentences grabbed me.

Did any word or sentence or image hit you when you heard today’s readings?

The three sentences I heard are:

First: “… it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.” [Acts 11:26]

Next: “It was winter.” [John 10:22]

Lastly: “The Father and I are one.” [John 10:30


For starters - a few questions and comments about the first sentence, “… it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.”

How many Catholics describe themselves as Christians?  Is that a word or a label we use to describe ourselves?

Do we favor being called and being seen as a Catholic more than being a Christian? Which do I prefer: Catholic Christian or Christian Catholic? Or do I say sentences like,  “I’m seeing myself as a Christian - a follower of Christ.- more than being seen as a Catholic?” Or “Wait a minute. It all depends.”

I like C.S. Lewis comment about seeing a Christian as someone who is baptized. It’s a noun.  Do we use the word Christian as a noun or an adjective?  Adjective: that was very Christian of the Pope to take in those refugees.

Second sentence: “It was winter.”

Writers in English are often told to study Hemingway. Write short, clear, brief sentences. Get to the point.  The New Testament is in Greek. Greek can have very long sentences. Whoever got their hands on translating our Mass prayers into English from Latin - seems never to have heard of Hemingway.

So I like this sentence. It was winter. 

It causes pause. That’s another 3 word sentence.

Someone also translated the Greek when Judas betrayed Jesus into, “It was night.”

Hemingway - who killed himself - like Jesus Would have liked that sentence. “It was night.”

Where am I in my spiritual life. Light or night, winter or spring, summer or fall?  Am I cold - indoors? Or am I alive, warm, budding with new life?

What season am I in?

The third sentence is the last sentence  in today’s gospel: “The Father and I are one.”

With faith, with our belief in the divinity of Christ, we Christians hear and can read the New Testament - the gospels - every day and discover more and more about this human historical person called, “Jesus Christ”.

As a result, we can read more and more about God when we read more and more about Christ.

God washes feet. God forgives sin. God lets us eat himself up as bread and drink Him in the wine. God wants to enter into us with food, for  starters. That’s how we learned from our parents that they loved us for starters.

It took the early church the first few hundreds of years to be able to put into words - into theological terms - how the Trinity is. God in three persons. And they just scratched the surface. How will our personality be able to grasp God? I assume that’s the stuff of eternity.

In the meanwhile we’re Christians - hopefully not hibernating in some dark winter night  - but we’re rising each day with the Risen Christ - springing into action - greening the earth - bringing joy and creativity into wherever we are this day. Amen.


Did I miss any sentence you spotted? 

Monday, April 18, 2016



I am learning that some people are
angry, antsy, agitated and annoyed.

I am learning to accept anger in
others. Silence. Just be calm.

I am learning that acceptance
is the first step. “He’s angry.”

I have learned to then say,
“Okay you’re angry. Now what?”

I have learned that calmly saying
that sometimes disarms the other.

I have learned that anger sometimes
begets more and more and more anger.

I have learned that sometimes just
standing up and walking away works.

I have learned that angry people are
angry and I don’t want to be one of them.

I have learned that angry people can be
miserable and I don’t want to be miserable.

© Andy Costello Reflections 2016

Sunday, April 17, 2016



The title of my homily for this 4th Sunday after Easter  is, “What’s With the Lamb?”

Ever since I was a little kid - when I was in church and saw the lamb on vestments, carved into altars - as well as in stained glass windows - I wondered, “What’s with the lamb?”

Ooops. I don’t mean the sheep on Jesus’ shoulders - or Jesus with a flock of sheep - walking along as the Good Shepherd - but just a lamb or a sheep with a small banner with a cross on it - often in a circle like and emblem or a sculpture or a carving.  What’s with that image? What’s with the Lamb?

Then at times I would hear at Mass in the readings - like today - mention of the Lamb.

There are also the prayers, “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us….” 

So at times when I’m awake or aware of what I’m seeing and hearing, I ask, “What’s with the lamb?


Then the other day I was driving to New Jersey to attend the funeral of a classmate.  I was listening to a CD talk by Father Robert Barron - who is now a bishop. He made a comment that went something like this: Israel was constantly the little guy - all through the Old Testament - and they were always being beaten up.  So the prophets promised that a Lion who appear - the Lion of the Judah - who would protect and destroy all enemies and all will be okay. In other words, there would be Savior, a Messiah, a redeemer - who would be a powerful leader - who would crush Israel’s enemies.

Well who shows up but Jesus - the Lamb - and the lamb is slaughtered?

God has a sense of humor - and a sense of humility - on how life works.

So there we have them: the Lion and the Lamb?

Which would you rather be?  Which would you rather have?

The lion has the reputation of being the king of  beasts. Grrrrrrr! Grrrrr!  Grrrry! as we see at the beginning of MGM movies.

But Jesus is the Lamb - the sheep who is slaughtered - and yet saves the world.

As in the Exodus - the Passover Lamb - was slaughtered and his blood was to be smeared on the doorposts of the Jewish homes - so that when the angel of death - came - the death of all first born’s - of  Egypt - the Jews would be saved.

On the Passover Night they fled Egypt - went through the waters of their baptism - and they headed for the Promised Land.

This is big picture, mythic type thinking, symbolic thinking.


Life is the surprises. Life is the reversal of the expected.  Life is the unexpected.

Life is the ability to laugh.

Instead of a lion showing up, surprise a lamb shows up. A lamb - the meekest and dumbest of the animals - shows up and conquers all.

I remember seeing a National Geographic or Animal Kingdom documentary and the lion is sitting there under a tree relaxing.

You then see his wife the lioness tracking down a gazelle - killing it - and dragging it to her husband: the lion. He then has a feast - eating all he wants to eat. Then his wife and cubs have the remains.

Meanwhile the lion climbs a tree and sleeps for 48 hours - with drooping pot belly.

When I sat that, I smiled. The king of the beasts - the lion - didn’t come across too well in that documentary - that story.

Life is the surprises.

Life is the unexpected.

Life doesn’t work the way we think it should work.

Is the message that the secret of life is not being the lion - but being the lamb.

The first become last - and the last become first.

As Jesus taught us - there are those who serve and those who are served and those who are served are number 1 - the more important. Then he chooses to not be the most important. He washes feet - and serves the rest.

Life is giving one’s life for the good of all.

Life is the sacrifices.

Mother Teresa used to say to her sisters, “Let the people eat you up.”

Give them your time. Give them you presence. Give them your service.


I think of some examples of service - besides the lioness feeding her man.

A bunch of times I’ve spent time with my brother’s daughters for Thanksgiving week. Somewhere along the line they made a pact to try to get together as a family for Thanksgiving week.

Our generation did it for 3 days. My brother’s daughters are continuing the tradition doing it for 5 or 6 days. It means sacrifice. It costs money.  It takes planning. It takes an effort - but the reward called family is worth it.

During that Thanksgiving week, I began to notice that my niece Jeanie’s husband, David, would come downstairs with their 3 kids and go out for a drive very early every morning.  Where were they going? The stores weren’t open yet. Well, he was taking them out for a drive so their mother could get a great sleep.

When I saw that,  I looked back and remember my dad taking us to the park every Sunday as kids - after Mass - after breakfast - so as to give my mom a break - and a good sleep.

I think of my dad working for Nabisco and they moved from the lower west side of Manhattan - to Fair Lawn, New Jersey. To continue with the idea of keeping his job and getting a pension - this meant he had to take the subway from Brooklyn to 42 Street - in Manhattan where the Port Authority bus station was located - and then then he would take a bus to Fair Lawn New Jersey - for work. He did this for a couple of years before he retired.

Why? Family. Marriage? Food on the table.

I think of all those couples with 2 jobs and all kinds of extra work and travel - so as to make money so their kids can get the best education - the best this and the best that.

Sacrifice. Sacrifice. Sacrifice.


The title of my homily is, “What’s With the Lamb?”

Besides being of service to others, there is a second meaning - a second message - about lambs - and it too is a key to our understanding of the meaning of the Lamb of God.

I think of the work of the Stanford University professor, Rene Girard, who died last year.

Years ago I heard some talks about his teachings and writings. I bought the books and tried to get my hands and my mind on just what he was saying.

I got some of what he was saying - but I’m still not clear on his messages.

He was off on scapegoats and lambs that were slaughtered for the good of the community.

He looked around - he looked at history - and Rene Girard said there was a lot of violence - not just today - but always.

People blame people. People pick on other people. People are envious of other people. People want what other people have. Why do I always have to have a crummy car - when so and so has a zoom zoom very expensive car? And house…. and vacations …. and clothes.

Kill them. Steal from them. Take from them.  The history of the world…..

Rene Girard thought about all this and came up with one of his key ideas: we are mimics.  Human beings imitate each other. See violence - mimic violence - and then violence continues.

Imitation - mimicking - doing what others do - wearing what others wear - saying what others are saying - is very much what we do.

What is said on the talk shows at night - becomes the conversations at the coffee break and the cocktail hour the next day.

Who stops to think? Who thinks outside the box?

Jesus came along and did so - and the crowd that screamed for him on Palm Sunday - waving palms and wows - screamed “Crucify him” the following Friday.

Prophets are killed. People who challenge people are assassinated.

So we have a choice: to think or not to think? To grow or not to grow? To be violent or to be people of peace.

We can mimic the good or the evil.

Jesus chose the good. Jesus chose stopping the violence - by entering into the violence of the world - with the hope of us getting the message to stop the violence.

Jesus turned the other cheek.

Jesus took on all the anger of all the people’s.

Jesus did not roar back - he gave his back to his persecutors.

We can be lion or a lamb.

We can be like Jesus.


The title of my homily is, “What’s With the Lamb?”

Answer: sacrifice and service - giving of oneself - as well as dying to violence and selfishness of others - being a lamb ourselves - being a scapegoat and changing the world by non-violence. Amen.

Answer: Jesus is a good shepherd who lays down his life for us.

April 17, 2016


Coming back home,
to the old house, the old school,
the old classroom, to climb the
old stairs to hear the sounds of
the old teachers, the old neighbors,
to meet with a few old friends,
to visit the graveyard - to read the
stones, to stop into the old church,
to sit in an old bench, to say a
prayer - to realize God is never
Emeritus. It’s good to come back home.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

April 16, 2016


One secret of happiness, there are more -

is to do something for someone else -
quickly - today - without hesitation.

What to do - some specifics: a call, a
visit, a surprise e-mail, a prayer, a look in
in the eye "Thank you" - to a waitress.

You can do it. You have hands and feet.
You have time. You have eyes that see

those in need. Quick help someone.

You have ears to hear - another. Just

ask how they are doing this day.  Just
ask and just listen - and just shut up.

One secret of happiness, there are more:

to die to mouth - to self - to rise for others -
and to just watch and see how they are today.

(c) Reflections Andy Costello