Saturday, July 9, 2016

July 9, 2016


There’s no weather channel to catch
the mood of the other - when meeting.

We listen to their voice. We look at
their mouth. We study their hands.

Angry again? Pleasant? Upset?
Absent? Down? Upbeat? “Uh oh?”

Maybe the only solution is to do
a mood check on self first. Then….

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Friday, July 8, 2016

July 8, 2016


Jesus was right! Let the one without sin
cast the first stone. It seems it got the rock
throwers to stop and begin to look within.

And when we look within, we can see that
we can be mad at times - crazy. We can
spin out of control - crash - and kill others.

We take that extra drink and then that drink
drinks and drowns or drugs us and we end
up hurting others in our spiral splash.

So drop the rocks - turn them to bread - trans-
-substantiate yourself - become Jesus  - join
the Mass - be in communion with each other.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Thursday, July 7, 2016

July 7, 2016


Some see the forest,
some see the trees.

Some see the leaves,
some see the green.

Some see the bark,
Some see the branches.

Some see the sky,
some see the ground.

Some see the newspapers,
some see the tooth picks.

Some see the homes,
some see the steps.

Some see the past,
some see the future.

O say can you see….
O say what you see….

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

July 6, 2016


There is something in some people that
they want to arrange and rearrange the
furniture in the other person’s room - in
their mind, in their way of thinking, in their
way of doing life - but guess what?  The
other person arranges and rearranges their
inner room back to where it was before - 
as soon as the other person leaves?

Photo: Einstein's Desk the day he died.
© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

July 5, 2016


On the sidewalk,
I see a slice of pizza.
It looks like it was thrown
away after just two bites.

On the sidewalk,
I see a dissed cigarette,
dented aluminum cans,
and a burst balloon.

On the sidewalk,
I still see your footsteps….
Thanks for the stroll for ice
cream a month before you died.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016



The title of my homily for this 14th Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind.”

We’ve heard that saying from today’s first reading. We get it, or we think we get it, but we don’t really think about it. Words can be like the car in the other lane - flying by us or we are flying by them. It’s there. It’s gone.

It’s a saying that shows up here in Hosea 8: 7.

We’ll also hear it again in Proverbs 22: 8  - “the one who sows injustice reaps disaster.”

Then there is Galatians 6:7, “Don’t delude yourself into thinking God can be cheated: where a man sows, there he reaps: if he sows in the field of self-indulgence he will get a harvest of corruption out of it; if he sows in the field of the Spirit he will bet from it a harvest of eternal life.”

Great quotes. I believe each clarifies the saying that much better.

You reap what you sow.

Spoil your kids, you spoiled your empty nest years.

What goes around, comes around.

Do nothing - expect nothing.

Do dumb things - expect dumb results.

Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.


Hosea the prophet reads the riot act to the kings and princes and tribes of Israel. He tells them, “You’re flirting with danger. When you pray to silver and gold idols, don’t expect the real God to show up when you need him.”

Sow the wind, expect the whirlwind.

You’re planting grain that has no ears - so don’t expect flour.


Take the example of politicking from the pulpit. Now that’s a tricky topic.

It’s a fact that the scriptures - especially the prophets - and then the Books of Kings, Samuel and Chronicles bring in history and politics and what have you.

The other day I heard someone say that they want us priests to speak up about the current political drama that’s going on.  Yet I also know that if one does, one gets complaints about politics from the pulpit.

Basically, I let America Magazine speak up on these issues. There is a chance to write letters to the Editor or to cancel one’s subscription - if one disagrees with an editorial or an article and one has time to study it.

I know that I slip at times and let my bias, my positions, my political perceptions slip out - and every time I pay for it - by a comment someone makes to or at me on the way out of Mass. When will I ever learn?

I’ve heard people say: “Don’t make the church pulpit a bully pulpit - unless people have a chance to speak up.”  If they can’t speak up in church when they disagree with the preacher, they will be speaking up in the parking lot or on their cell phones or Facebook.

So what’s your take on November coming?  I’ve noticed that names come up in every conversation or coffee break that goes longer than 15 minutes.


Perhaps the wisest stance is the stepping back and watching stance - that is - if one is able to keep calm, cool and recollected.

Statistics scream out that negative campaigning in the short run gives a candidate more bang for his or her dollar - or rant or rave or scream or scheme.

However, In the long run, the truth will win out. There are video tapes. There are ways to check sources. There will be biographies about each candidate coming out in 10 years.


In the meanwhile, we’ll keep on hearing the ancient proverb in various forms: “When they sow the wind, they shall reap the whirlwind.”

Hot air is hot air. Balloons burst. The air dissipates and disappears and we discover there is nothing inside.

And Dorothy wakes up - at home - in Kansas.

Monday, July 4, 2016



The title for my homily this Fourth of July is, “Touching His Cloak.”


In today’s gospel a woman says to herself, “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be healed.”

She does and she is healed.

The young girl whom all thought dead is healed as well.

In this homily I want to touch upon, “Who touched us? Who healed us? Who helped us? Who got us to where we have gotten?


It’s July 4th and today we celebrate a national holiday. We celebrate the day the Declaration of Independence was signed by some brave people.

Four were from Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone and Charles Carroll of Carrollton and Annapolis.

This morning I sat down and read the Declaration of Independence. It’s only 1,458 words. 

As I read it, I was touching history.

I could touch the words. They could touch me.

And I got in touch with the grievances of those who decided to revolt.

I read about the British practices and policies which they declared unfair.

It was like the time I read a whole book, Paddy’s Lament - by Thomas Gallagher.  It got me in touch with world history. It got me in touch with why the Irish rebelled against the British in the Easter Uprising and gained their freedom - for most of their counties. That book gave me an understanding that I didn’t have before. It got me in touch with the horror of unjustice and genocide.

When I read the declaration of Independence today, I got me in touch with a gripe the colonists had with the British that comes up at various times in our history. It is the attempt to stop immigration to this country.

For example, it states that the King, “has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.”

Those who have that gripe today - need to read the Declaration of Independence. They need to go to Liberty Island and read Emma Lazarus’ poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty. They need to go to Ellis Island and ponder the photographs and the stories of how the United States became the United States - because of immigration.

For the sake of transparency, my parents were immigrants and they spoke another language, besides English.

I didn’t like the Declaration of Independence’s take on our native Americans, but other than that, I was in on their take on grievances against the British.

Reading, meeting, experiencing life - we get in touch what we like and dislike, what we sense is right and what is wrong.

It’s good for our psyche and our soul to have historic days like today - to keep us in touch with who we are and where we come from.


I noticed on line today - that on July 4th,  1939, Lou Gehrig gave perhaps the greatest sports speech yet. It was labeled the Gettysburg Address of Sports. It was only 453 words long.

They don't have the whole speech on line, but they do have the most memorable line, "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the planet."

Lou Gehrig is also first generation American - his parents Henrich and Christina Gehrig were immigrants from Germany.

The comment about his short speech, comparing it, to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. got me to go and read that as well. Like Lou Gehrig’s speech it too is quite short: 278 words - compared to Lou Gehrig’s speech which was 453 words long.

I knew that speech was somehow connected to July 4th - only to discover it was given that November 19, 1863 - but the Battle of Gettysburg was from July 1, 2, 3, 1863.

I began thinking about how important short speeches are. They touch us a lot more than long, long speeches. That’s a message for me to hear. I remember hearing the Everett who gave the main memorial speech that day at Gettysburg, spoke 2 hours and his speech was 13,607 words.


In this sermon or homily on the Fourth of July I’m wondering - because of gospel I read - about who touched us.

Obviously, being an American makes us proud - and thankful - for all those who built our country - all those who served our country - all those who still guide and guard our country.

What touches us?

What leaders touch us?

It’s easy to  be negative and find public figures who keep the talk shows going. Who are the positive leaders? I’ve met folks who talk about civic leaders who impressed them.

At 18 - this was in the late 1950’s - I was in Washington D.C. and they had the U. S. Senate hearings on labor racketeering and my brother Billy brought me to see the action. Up front were Bobby and John Kennedy and I remember when they were leaving the room, I reached out and touched Bobby Kennedy’s sleeve. And when he was killed, it did a number on me.

What life experiences have touched us?

What words of Jesus touch us?

What touching Jesus moments in Holy Communion have changed our lives?

What did our parents, others, who were they, who touched us and changed our lives?

Who touches us the wrong way.

Do we have the loving touch of Jesus?

Do people who touch our lives discover healing.


I stood at the Lincoln Memorial in D.C. and also the Vietnam wall and I was touched. I’ve heard the Lou Gehrig line about being the luckiest person in the whole world - and was deeply touched.

Great people touch our lives.

Is there anyone who met us and they were touched for the better - because of our words and because of our goodness?


Picture on top - Woman touching the cloak of Jesus - found in the catacombs of Marcelinus and Peter, Rome.
July 4th, 2016


Happy Dependence Day!

It’s a great day when we realize
we depend upon one another.
We needed a mom and dad
for a ticket to ride…. this great
planet we’re going around and
around on - over and over again.

Happy Dependence Day!

It’s a great day when we realize
we depend upon all those who
have gone before us - all those
inventors, all those immigrants,
all those imaginators - and all
those who made us who we are.

Happy Dependence Day!

It’s a great day when we realize
we have a great model here in the
United States - stress on united -
in hopes that by some July 4th in
the future, we’ll have a real
United Nations, a real United World.

Happy Dependence Day!

Okay, you want me to say,
"Happy Interdependence Day!"

Not yet, sorry!

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Sunday, July 3, 2016

July 3, 2016


Sensitive, silent, smart, stupid, smooth, stormy,
self-centered, sexy, sour, suspicious, standout,
settled, sturdy, shoddy, stuck, shifty, significant,
scared, sacred, sinful, strange, secondary, star, social, sledgehammer, straightforward, secure,
struggling, successful, sullen, sterile, sergeant, sweet, sure, swagger, server, silk, slick, snob,
shrugging, sleepy, soft, shameful, stinger, steel,
sinister, splashy, stubborn, stalling, solitary, sad, singing, sophisticated, skillful, status quo, strong, sinister, slacker, sulking, scientific, somebody .... 

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016



The title of my homily for this 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C] is, “Marks On Our Memory.”

Marks - nicks, smudges, dents, scars, graffiti….  

I read today’s readings a couple of times - to get a theme to think about - and to preach about. 

A comment in the second reading from Paul in his letter to the Christian community in Galatia hit me: “From now on, let no one make troubles for me, for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.”

So that’s where I got the title and theme for this homily entitled, “Marks on Our Memory.”

What’s Paul saying there?  Is it the same message a mother says when a kid is driving her crazy: “Hey I still have the stretch marks from when I was pregnant with you. I still have the wrinkles from when I worried many a sleepless night about you - when you were sick as a kid - and when you were a teenager.”

I suppose St. Paul was thinking about all the cuts and bruises he got - ever since he started his journey to bring Christ to the world - that he too has experienced a daily way of the cross. In 2 Corinthians 11:25 he says, “Five times I had the 39 lashes from the Jews; three times I have been beaten with sticks; once they threw stones at me; three times I have been shipwrecked and once adrift in the open sea for a night and a day.”

Talk about marks - scars - memories….  Life.


If we think about it, daily living brings daily struggles; daily struggles bring cuts;  and cuts leave scars.  

If we think about it, we are marked for life from where we’ve been and what we’ve been through. We have cuts and scars, dents and scratches, on the skin of our soul - on the places we have been.

We notice that first dent, that first bump, that first scratch on a new car.

We kneel there at the dead body of a loved one in a casket - in the funeral parlor and we’re saying a Hail Mary for them using the rosary in their hands and we notice a scar on the back of their right hand. We think, “I wonder what happened there.”

The next time you’re in someone’s house, sit there and look around at all you can see in the room you’re in: photographs on end tables, paintings on the wall, knick knacks on book shelves - and then there is the water stain up there in the corner of the ceiling or a dark spot on a rug.

I wonder what happened there. I wonder why that picture is there.

As Forest Gump said, “It happens.”

In today’s first reading from Isaiah he tells Jerusalem to rejoice in all the good things that happened there. Other writings could talk about the bad things that happened in Jerusalem through the years  - the pockmarks of war on her walls, the houses that caved in, the loose bricks on her sidewalks.

Life is the lifting of a glass of wine in celebration at a sidewalk cafĂ© - seeing the beauty of a city or downtown area with folks walking by with ice cream in hand. It’s also the “Uh oh’s!” and the “Oh no’s!” of broken pipes and shootings and signs telling us that a road is closed for maintenance.

Today’s gospel has Jesus sending out his disciples - 72 of them - and Jesus says bring peace, bring healing, and eat with the folks who feed you. But some folks might not be so peaceful, so shake the dust of that place off your feet and move on. There are plenty more places than this place.


The title of my homily is, “Marks on Our Memory.”

Sometimes the magic marker graffiti of a 3 year old doesn’t come off.
Sometimes the spaghetti stains can’t be removed even with Magic Off Whitener. Sometimes when we’re waiting for medical results at 66 we worry about a mistake we made when we were 26.

It’s hard to forget our mistakes. It’s easy to regret our mistakes.

Who said we have to forget our mistakes?  Who said forgetting is part of forgiving? Forgetting is part of dementia and aging.

So we have our demons and our dust…. We have our snakes and our scorpions…. There are lambs - but there are also wolves.

So life is mixed. But we seem to remember - and spot our chips and our cracks more than  the perfect wall or rug. In this homily I’m stressing seeing and celebrating them - because they are who we are and how we got here.


In my last assignment - preaching parish missions out of St. Gerard’s Parish in Lima, Ohio, I was driving to the next parish with Tom, the priest I worked with for 8 ½ years.

In the car on the way he told me three stories he had - and asked me which of the three should he use.

He told me 3 stories he found. I listened while driving.

He finished # 3 and I screamed, “The second one. Use the second one.”

Here’s the story that he told. It went something like this.  I don’t know who wrote it - or who told it - but it was a gift to me that trip - down a highway of life.

Every week or so, two good friends would sit down in the afternoon, have a cup of tea and talk some sweet talk about their lives with each other.

They both were farmer’s wives.

The visitor was sitting there and the phone rang. When the lady who lived in the home answered the phone, the other lady stood up to stretch and just happened to look into the dining room.

“Ooops,” she said.

The lady who lived there said it was her husband who just called to tell her he’d be home 15 minutes late for dinner.

The visitor said, “I’m sorry. It looks like you’re having guests in for supper and here I am talking away.”

“No,” said the lady. “It’s only us for supper tonight.”

“Well, why is the dining room table all set up.”

“Oh,” she answered, “We always have one big fancy dinner one night every month and tonight’s the night.”

“And I put out our best china and best silverware - best cloth napkins - and one favorite meal of someone.”

By now both were in the dining room and the visitor was admiring the best of everything on the dining room table - including crystal candle ware.

Then the lady who lived there said, “Everything on the table has a story. Some of these plates go back to my great, great grandparents.”

Then she stopped at her place and said, “And here is my favorite plate.”

It was a plain white plate - but it had a piece missing along the rim.

She had a beautiful smile on her face as she said, “Let me tell you the story about this plate.”

I was 17 at the time. It was a summer evening and my dad and my three brothers and a buddy of one of my brothers was standing there with them ready for supper.

They were haying and they were going to go back out after supper for another two hours of work. It was Daylight’s Saving Time and there would still be plenty of light for work and it would be cooler.

Well, I had never seen this buddy of my youngest brother before. He introduced this young man to me and winked at me and made me sit next to him at this dining room table.

During the meal my brother was trying to bust me about this guy.

At one point my brother handed me the heavy cold water with ice pitcher and said pointing to his buddy on the other side of me, “Fill his glass with more water.”

I did, but nervously…. Putting the pitcher back down on the table,  I put it down onto my plate and chipped the edge of the plate. People were talking and laughing and I didn’t think anyone noticed it.

First chance I got when supper was over, I got this plate back into the kitchen. Phew.

Then the boys and my dad went back to work on this farm.

I was in the kitchen. My brother came in with his buddy and said, “Aren’t you going to say ‘Goodbye to Tom.”

I did. He held out his hand to shake it goodbye and when he did he put the tiny chip from my plate in my hand and smiled.

Then after a long pause the woman told her visiting friend, “That chip of china is upstairs in my jewelry box and Tom and I were married a year later.”


The title of my homily is, “Marks on Our Memory.”

We all have the same story. Chips and pieces from the breaks of our lives - splinters from the crosses of your lives - are in our box in the upper room of our skull - and they are all part of whom we have become.

I think that’s what Paul is telling us in today’s second reading - but it’s good to check out and read and tell our story to another - like the 72 disciples in today’s gospel who came back to Jesus - to tell him what happened in their journey.  

Two by two…. sound familiar?  Any couples here?