Saturday, August 13, 2016

August 14, 2016


What have been your  “Hallelujah!”  moments? 

A moment when you sang a song or danced
a dance and the whole room clapped for you -
and you were 2 years old - and you saw a
Super 8 movie of it years and years later. Wow!

Or was it a moment you had the winning hit in
a ballgame and the whole crowd clapped and
screamed and your team lifted you up. Wow!

Or in high school you read a poem you wrote and
all became silent - really silent - and some cried -
because you talked about a friend who had died. 

Or it was your wedding day and you walked down
the aisle with your dad - who said he would make it
3 years earlier when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Or you coached - you were a volunteer coach - and
one of your kids won gold in the Olympics. Wow. 

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

August 13, 2016


Ring! Ring! Ring!
Right in the middle of silence….
In the library, in church, at the
meeting, in the doctor’s office….
Different nexts for different folks….
Some silence the side of their phone….
Some peek to see who’s calling….
Some stand up and answer - and
loudly - for all in the room to hear….
We are not alone….

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Friday, August 12, 2016

August 12, 2016

High cool  - pumping out cool air
all day long - allowing me to work.
The fire place is envious. It hasn’t
received a compliment since last
January when it was cold - really
cold - logs burning and bursting -
allowing us to sit on a sofa and hear
the cackle caused by bright red fire.
Compliments - they can be seasonal
and they can be self-serving. Sometimes
they are hot stuff - sometimes real cool.

 © Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
August 11, 2016


It sat on my sister’s dining room sideboard
forever - before that on my mom’s kitchen
top shelf - but rarely used - and before that -
I can picture it on a kitchen table - in Ireland -
c. 1900 - filled with milk or water - and I looked
up its estimated value as an antique - only to
realize I could buy another one for $19.97 -
in much better condition - but my mom’s
pitcher was filled with rich memories - most of
which I didn't take the time to drink. Poor me.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

August 10, 2016


Bones and branches break,
so too skin and glass and hearts -
and broken people scream at God -
for not understanding what they
are going through. Is that why
the Father sent the Son and asked
Mary to bring him into the world?
She must have been broken when she saw
friends running away from Jesus in the 
dark night. Then both saw so few under the 
cross the next day: broken Friday afternoon.
But then at daybreak - that Easter morning 
the cave and the grave split open and 
death was broken apart forever. Alleluia.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

August 9, 2016


If the book is good,
if it’s a page turner,
then we don’t even notice
when we're turning a page.

So too much of life.

But if life is bad, if it's 
a dread, and we feel dead,
then we notice that we don't
want to turn and move on.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016



The title of my homily for this 19th Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “I Am Part Of All That I Have Met.”

That line is part of the poem, Ulysses,  by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Ulysses, the king,  is looking at his life. He is comparing being at home with his wife - to being at sea - traveling - fighting - exploring - and he wants to get odyssey-ing again. He sees that his son Telemachus is capable of governing - but does not have the gift of exploring and conquering new worlds. So he can let his son do the governing here and he’ll go back to discovering new worlds and new adventures.

For some reason, when we read that poem in English class - way, way back when -  that line hit me and has become part of me.

Maybe it was our English teacher, Father Tom Rowan, who loved literature - and who was in Brazil as a missionary - maybe his travels made him emphasize that message of - always being open to new adventures.


So since then - I have kept that in mind - when it comes to what I’ll allow into my mind - if possible or when I’m conscious of it.

I wonder about shoot-em-ups when it comes to movies. I hope watching Kill Bill I and II and the Bourne movies and various other fast moving - bullets flying movies - I haven’t messed myself up.

When was it that someone in American Cultural essays said, “Garbage in, garbage out.”

Eat junk, you become junk.

But that’s looking at the negative…. I have also looked at the positive. Good stuff in, good stuff one becomes. So good music, good conversations, good vacations, good books. They can all become me.


I’m thinking all this because of today’s first reading - when Ezekiel is told to eat the scroll. He is told to eat the words of scripture. 

The message is obvious: let the word nourish, feed, and become us.

Did Christianity marry - words with bread - with Christ in the Eucharist.

And the word became flesh and dwelt among us.

Eating communion - eating Christ - eating the scriptures - eating the words of Christ - hopefully Christ becomes us.

As St. Paul said, “I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me. [Galatians 2: 19]

Hopefully by digesting a gospel reading like today’s from Matthew - that it hits us with the message of humility and to be like children.  And if we mess up, to trust that Christ the Good Shepherd will come looking after us.

So we hear the scriptures, we digest them, they nourish us -  they become us.

So too good example, being a good person, all help us to become good examples, to become a good person.


All this is obvious. However, we forget it - so it’s good to be reminded every once in a while.

We speak the language we heard from our parents. We take on their smile or lack of a smile. We pick up their customs and their values.

We become what we eat and hear - and surround ourselves with and in.


One experience I had brings this home to me.

 I had a long car ride to New Jersey - and by myself- so I grabbed some old cassette tapes - that I hadn’t listened to in 20 years at least.

I listening to this tape and I hear the speaker use this great example.

I turn the tape recorder off. The speaker used this great example that years later I gave in a homily - and I thought I was so clever or original - that I made it up.

I ate that story and it became me.

So yes I am part of all that I have met.

Thank you for being here.

Monday, August 8, 2016



The title of my homily is “Calls: Called by God - Three People.”

I wasn’t sure what to preach on, so I decided to go with today’s first reading from Ezekiel - where he receives a call from God.


Let me begin by pointing out that we are very aware that people are getting calls all the time.

We see people everywhere with cellphone in hand - or next to their ears.

People must be calling each other all the time - every chance they get.

Just grab a bench in the mall or look out the window when you drive up Main Street - and you’ll see a dozen people on their phones.

Then there are inner calls. We are getting calls from somewhere in our brain every day. I call them, “Gottas”.

  • I gotta empty the dishwasher.
  • I gotta call Charlie.
  • I gotta pick up some catsup at the supermarket.
  • I gotta clean the trunk of my car.
  • I gotta remind him to pick up the tickets.
The title of my homily is, “Calls: Called by God - Three People.”

We know we have daily calls and daily demands. In this homily I’m going to lead into calls from God - being aware of them - having pointed out we know about local calls from each other.

I want to state that it’s a good idea to talk to each other or look at others about the calls of life.

Others: you can talk to family members or friends about what their experience is with the calls and demands of life - and how they think, feel, respond to them.

In this homily, let me pick three people who received calls: Ezekiel, Dominic, the Saint of the day, and then finish by talking about ourselves.


Today and for the next two weeks, the first reading for daily Mass is from Ezekiel. That’s a possible 12 readings - but for the feast of the Assumption I’m sure will have a different first reading.

Ezekiel lived around 590 BC.

He is the 3rd of the three major prophets in the Old Testament: Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

The Book of Ezekiel is sizable: 48 chapters.

It has some good stuff for prayer and reflection. 

Read or browse through the book - or the readings we’ll hear in church these two weeks.

Notice how today’s first reading from Ezekiel 1: 2-5, 24-28, begins with the call message: “the word of the Lord came to the priest Ezekiel….”

There it is: the call.

Then as you listen to Ezekiel ponder his messages.

In Chapter 3 Ezekiel is called to eat the scrolls. I love that image - so that the words might become flesh. What a great calling: to eat the word, to digest the words, let the words become us.  Be nourished by the word of God. Be in communion with the word.

In Chapter 16 we have the powerful image as a young girl who is dumped into an open field, unloved, exposed and God sees her struggling - picks her up - cleans her - raises her - dresses her in beautiful clothes and then after all that she prostitutes herself.

The obvious message - the obvious call - is that we do not follow that same path.

We’re all familiar with Ezekiel’s vision of Israel as a field of dead bones. It’s in Chapter 37. He calls out to the dead - to rise - to come back to life.

Some think he might have been a deaf mute - because of his odd way of preaching at times. He uses gives great pictures - images - visions - props -to announce to Israel God’s calls.


The second person that I’d like to mention who heard God’s call is Dominic - Saint Dominic - whose feast day is today. His dates were 1170-1221.

He had plans on being a contemplative type priest - but everything changed when he traveled from Spain with a bishop who went to Southern France and he discovered people who were into the Albigensian heresy.

He realized he had to do something about all this - so be began preaching - realizing that was needed - but even more - example. If preachers were fat cats and the Albigensian spiritual leaders were very penitential, example wins out every time over words.

There’s a message there.


Each day we hear calls from God to make this a better world.

The most basic call is the Great Commandment: "Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And the second is this: You must love your neighbor as yourself". [Cf. Mark 12: 28-34.]

If we want more: Jesus calls us to give up stuff - simplify - and follow him.

Sometimes we have to speak up - but for starters - example is much more powerful than words.

As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

So too good example as Dominic found out. So too Ezekiel. Show people examples.

I think that’s enough with the words.
August 8, 2016


Translation from another language
can be tough - but tougher still is
figuring out gestures, signals, itches,
body language, holding hands,
a look with our eyes or teeth that
grab our lower lip - but our mouth
is saying nothing. How long does
it take to translate what we really
want to say to each other - or maybe
we don’t even know ourselves?

 © Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Sunday, August 7, 2016



The title of my homily for this 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time [c] is, “Passover.”

Like you - I look at the readings for the Mass to see what hits me - or intrigues me - or causes me to wonder about something. 

That’s how I come up with topics for homilies. Of course I worry - what hits me might not hit you. I might pass over something that you want to know more about and focus on. 


I didn’t have to go too far into today’s readings to catch something that I began to think about. It’s the theme of Passover.

Today’s first reading from the Book of Wisdom begins, “The night of the Passover was known beforehand to our fathers….”

There was something to think about: Passover. Knowing beforehand about Passover.


Being able to deal with Passovers is a skill greatly to be desired - a grace to be gifted with and a gift to be embraced and lived with.

We’ve all heard a dozen times the old story about the king who offered a roomful of gold to anyone who would give him the secret of happiness. The story is told in many cultures and is told in various ways. 

Here’s my version. 

Well, the king wasn’t satisfied with any answers from any of the wise - till he heard a little old maid in the palace say when one of his daughters dropped an expensive glass vase, “This too shall pass.” 

He had the saying engraved on his ring and he’d look at it whenever things went wrong. 

The maid got the roomful of gold - smiled and said, “This too shall pass.”

There’s the fire and the flood - the divorce and the death - and there’s the recovering and the picking up the pieces.

Life is filled with such experiences - questions - happenings - many of which pass us over without enough awareness or reflection - only the depressing side of the disasters. Or things hit us:  hurts, losses, changes, deaths - and we drown in the rushing waters and we don’t know what hit us.

We’re like the Egyptians chasing the Israelites on Passover Night. They get into the waters of the Red Sea and they drown and the Israelites are saved - baptized - passing through the waters of death - to a new life.

Sometimes the waters of life rush down our streets like the waters of Ellicott City and there is a wipe out and we didn’t see it coming. Next!


The first book of the Bible, Genesis, is just Act One - with many scenes. It sets the stage. It introduces many characters. By the last chapter,  Chapter 50,  it gets people - Joseph - and his brothers - the children of Jacob into Egypt.

The second book of the Bible, Exodus, is Act Two.

Genesis begins in Paradise.

Exodus begins in Hell.

All was going well for the Hebrews - that is  - till there is a new King - a new Pharaoh - in Egypt - who knew nothing at all about Joseph and his people and what he did to save Egypt in time of famine.

All of you - who have experienced a new boss - or step parent - someone new in charge - who is a disaster -  and all favors are forgotten - you have had glimpses of this.

In Chapter One of the Book of Exodus, we hear, “All Hebrew boys are to be killed.”

Moses - a new Hebrew baby boy -  is to be killed - but he is saved in the waters - and is raised in the Egyptian pharaoh’s household.

Moses grows up in the palace, but he knows his roots. He kills an Egyptian who he saw had hit a Hebrew.

Who said the evening news is new?

Moses escapes. Moses becomes a shepherd. Moses hears a call from God to shepherd his people out of Egypt - out of hell. Out of - exit - exodus - redemption - being saved…. that’s what’s going on here. He tells his people what God wants. Let’s go. His people hesitates.

Moses tells the pharaoh to let his people go. He hesitates as well. He won’t let the Hebrews go. They are building his buildings as forced labor.

God sends 10 plagues - and the 10th is the worst - the death of the Egyptian first born sons.

Great story telling.  What goes around comes around.

To mark out which houses not to be hit by death, Moses tells people to mark their homes with the blood of the lamb - the Passover Sacrifice.

That week they were told to eat fast - eat bread that wasn’t leavened - because time was of the essence - and when Moses gave the call, they were to head out of town - 600,000 on the march and head for the promised land.

That night - the Passover Night - Death passed over the Hebrew homes.

They left Egypt for a fresh start elsewhere.

They did it - escaping that night - that Passover Moon night - and headed for the Promised Land.

They didn’t know it then, but it was to take a long time - 40 years in the desert - till they got into the Promised Land.

And they celebrated all this -  with the Passover Supper every year - at that Passover Moon.

This was how they became a people.


To understand the Mass - this Meal - we need to understand all this.

Jesus was a Hebrew. 

Jesus was the New Moses. 

Jesus was the savior.

Jesus was the Pascal Lamb.

We celebrate Jesus’ Last Passover Meal - his last Supper every Holy Week - Holy Thursday leading into Easter,

If you listen to Jesus a lot - he knew his time was coming - to pass over from this world into the next. He knew he had to face those who were against him. He knew he had to go to Jerusalem to face his Pharaoh - the Pharisees and the Powers that Be.

This Mass - this Passover Meal - what we’re doing here every time we celebrate mass is connected to all of this and to all of us.

We eat the unleavened bread - fast  - and on the run. Smile. Sometimes folks shoot up the aisle - receive communion - and shoot out the door. I avoid making comments about that - because I know some people have tough schedules - small kidneys - and sometimes my sermon was too long.

Jesus is the Passover Lamb - bloody cut and crucified. His blood be on us and on our children - and on our homes

We’re doing this in memory of him.

We’re doing this in memory of him who helps us in our Passover from this life into the next - as well as he little Passovers of life.


Death is the big Passover.

Today’s second reading brings us right into this topic. [Cf.  Hebrews 11: 1-2, 8-19]

Instead of using Moses, the Letter to the Hebrews, uses Abraham and his calling to move by faith into a new place.

Today’s gospel challenges us with various images and parables to be ready for God’s calls.

We never know.

The early church - as we know from our scriptures - thought the second coming was coming any night or day - so be ready.

If someone keeps telling us the wolf of death is coming - after a while we might get tired of that warning.

Evidently from today’s gospel, that happened to lots of people.


Let me end by saying that all of us will experience the big Passover - from this life to the next. As reported, we can’t escape death or taxes.

In the meanwhile, we also have those smaller life experiences that call for us to have the Passover skill.

·       We’re passed over for a job.
·       We’re passed over in a relationship         and the other picks another.
·       The other makes the team. We               don’t.
·       Someone makes a comment - a               hurting word - and we can’t let it           pass over - and die or disappear.
·       Mom, dad, a spouse, a child, gets             sick and needs our help.

And on and on and on.

The Good News is that Jesus is the Lamb of God and New Moses - the Good Shepherd - who will bring us through the waters of death into the Promised Land.

Christ is there in every moment we have to pass through and over -  if we walk with him and we realize, “The Lord is with us!”
August 7, 2016


Who said, “Everyone gets an identical chair”?

Who said, “Everyone gets a seat at the table”?

Who said, “Everyone has the same basic human rights”?

Who said, “Basically, everyone gets the same deal”?

Who said, “All are created equal”?

Who said, “Everyone gets an equal piece of the pie”?

Who said, “Everyone gets an office with a good view”?

Who said, “Everyone’s life in the long run works out just fine”?

Who said, “Everyone has gifts and talents”?

Who said, “Life is fair”?

Who said, “First come, first served”?

Who said, “The air and the water are fine”?

Who said, “Enough is enough”?

Who said, “Stand on line and wait your turn”?

Who said, “Equal pay for equal work”?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016