Saturday, September 17, 2016

September 17, 2016


You don’t know you’re in the dark,
till you experience light.

You don’t know you were mentally sick,
till you’ve recovered.

You don’t know you have a specific desire,
till you taste a sip of specific satisfaction.

You don’t know how little you know
till you discover a second book and then
another take on what you have read.

You don’t appreciate vanilla ice cream
till you’ve tried a dozen other flavors
and you still like vanilla best.

You don’t know home till you’ve left
home or visited various other homes.

You don’t know summer till you’ve
been through a real cold winter.


© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Friday, September 16, 2016


What a humble musical instrument…

A tuba, a violin, a clarinet, a piano
with all those keys - black and white -
could cause pause and panic and
an “Uh oh!” - but not a harmonica.
In fact, no one would picture 
harmonica players on stage, screen,
church or symphony orchestra.

A harmonica - a child finding one in
a grandfather’s box in a garage - and
not knowing what it is, picks it up -
studies it - blows into it the wrong
side - then the right side - and out
comes sudden sound. A star is born.
Another hears the sounds and wants one.

Two moms hearing the argument
laugh and the other mom goes inside
and comes out with a harmonica from
her way back when great grandfather
and the next day two kids are making
music. Then a third - then a fourth - 
then lessons and then Carnegie Hall -
well many, many years later.

What a wonderful musical instrument ….

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows 
September 15


Swords piercing mothers'  hearts -
in every age - in every way. 
Crucifixions keep happening.
Stabat mater dolorosa ....

We see mothers every night
on the TV stations of the cross -
bombs, bullets, the deaths of so
many kids. Stabat mater dolorosa ....

Mothers looking out windows
with nervous fists - with the sound of
so many ambulances in the night....
Stabat mater dolorosa ....

©  Andy Costello, 2016

September 15, 2015


Who was the first preacher to say
God Mumbles were a sin? Oh my
God, how could they be so dumb?

"Oh my Gosh," we blurt them out all the time -  
in near misses on the highways - spectacular
sunsets - and an amazing football catch.

“Oh my God!” “Jesus Christ!” “Holy Cow!”
Then there are those abbreviated prayers
in awful moments: “Wow!” “Woo!”  “Aaaaah!”

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

September 14, 2016


There were 5 pictures - on the wall -
and one was slightly tilted - off a bit -
and that tilt drove her crazy - sitting
there - annoying her - non-stop - all
through the meeting. The place was
not her place - still it kept bothering
her. She didn’t hear a word. In fact,
she missed the whole meeting - but
she did get up - 10 minutes before 
the end of the meeting .... She just 
stood up - in front of everyone - and 
walked over - straightened out that
picture - and that’s the only thing 
anyone remembered about that meeting.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September 13, 2016


I'm not sure of this,
in fact, I don't know if I ever will be,
but at some point 
we all need to discover
that everyone has a different 
point of view. We can't interview
everyone, so maybe some cab driver
in Madrid or Hanoi thinks the same as I think.
In the meanwhile this other person we're
with is not hearing what I'm saying 
with my meanings and history and mystery
and vice versa.
Got that - better remember that - 
and it will lead to less frustration,
less divorces, and interesting bar talk,
soup suppers, coffee breaks, and bus rides.
Enough for now....

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2016

Photo: Chicago Union Station 1943
September 12, 2016


On my God,
do we need offstage…
backstage, behind the scenes….
Time to watch….
Time to sit….
Time to relax and breathe….
Time to figure…. Go figure….
Time to pray......................
Time to say, “Okay, I missed
a few cues, but what the heck,
I got most of my lines right tonight -
in fact, I added a few of  my own
and I didn’t die till towards 
the middle of the last act. Not bad!

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016


Shown in pictures by Thomas Derricks,


Basil Blackwell

This is part of a book printed in England 
at the Shakespeare Head Press
Saint Aldates,

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 11, 2016


The twin towers were not too far
from Ellis Island - not too far from
the Statue of Liberty - not too far
from Kennedy Airport - where millions
and millions of people arrived in the 
Good Old USA. May we never be seen 
as walls blocking the huddled masses,
the wretched refuse, the poor, the 
homeless yearning to be set free. 
Welcome everyone. Welcome to the home
of the brave and the land of the free.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016



The title of my homily is, “Welcome Home.”

Those are two wonderful words to hear.

“Welcome home.”


I’ve heard and I’ve experienced a bunch of times - the wonderful moment of getting home from a foreign country - getting one’s luggage - getting on line to go up to the  U.S. Customs Agent Booth. Finally standing there - handing the custom agent my passport and papers. He or she looks at them - checks the passport. Sometimes they ask a question or two, look at the computer - hand me back my passport and smiling say, “Welcome home.”

That must be a great job  - saying that - and I think it’s taken on a new life - ever since the original September 11 - 15 years ago today.

It hit me as I was preparing this homily. What do they say to a visitor or a new person coming to America. I’ll have to listen next time I’m at the airport. “Is it, ‘Welcome to America!’” or what?


As I thought about this, I would hope every one of us - welcomes every one of us - and makes us every one of us feel at home.

I would assume it’s a great job being a parent - welcoming a brand new baby - into this world. Welcome home.

I would assume it’s a great moment for a mom and a dad experiencing their kids first day home - after their first day at school. Welcome home  - especially if they were screaming - unable to let go that morning - their first day away from home - going to school.

I would assume it’s a great marriage when a wife and a husband say to each other each evening - all through their marriage, “Welcome home!”

I would assume it’s a great parish - when someone feels at home - here in their parish. Welcome home.


I had a job from 1984 -1993 - being in charge of future Redemptorists - for a year a day - their novice year as Redemptorists. I did 9 classes. It was a significant time in my life.  Every year, every spring, we would take a car ride to Toronto for 4 days. It started because almost every year we’d have a novice or two from our Toronto Province.

One year I had a big worry. One of our novices - Duc - didn’t have papers - so we went in 3 cars. I told Duc - who was from Vietnam - that before we crossed the border at Niagara Falls - I would go to the custom’s officials and make sure Duc would be able to get back over the border when we were heading home. If I couldn’t get a guarantee,  I’d send the other novices off to our place in Toronto and Duc and I would drive home.

Every summer for about 5 years he would go to the Immigration Services building in Miami and try to get papers. His parents and his sisters got their papers, but not Duc.

At Niagara Falls - we pulled our 3 cars into the parking lot of the border patrol building - before going through the gates into Canada.  An official there - after telling him my request - said we better go down town into Niagara Falls. We did.

Once more I went into a building - just with Duc. The other guys waited outside in our cars. I talked to an official. He told me to just sit there and let him take Duc inside to the computers.  He added, “Sometimes the person says something nobody was hearing - like in Miami.”

A half hour later the guy came out with papers  - raising them and his hands in the air in celebration. Duc had a great smile on his face. The guy found out in Niagara Falls, USA, that when Duc got into the airport in England, someone put down a wrong number - just one wrong number - and that was the problem - for the next 5 years or so.

We went outside and Duc waved his papers to the guys in our cars. 

While driving one of our cars - crossing the border - I looked in the rear view mirror - and there was Duc looking at his papers - with tears in his eyes.

Welcome Home.

He existed. His name was somewhere - officially - in the books.


These thoughts hit me as I read today’s gospel.

I read the longer version - because every human being - every Christian needs to read and know Luke 15: 1-32 - the whole chapter.

Sit in the back of your car and read what’s on the paper - on the page. Your name is there.

The 3 parables that Jesus told that day - the 3 parables that Luke preserved for us - need to be read - and heard on a regular basis.

They are the heart and soul of the message that Pope Francis discovered. He says it took him a while, but he finally got the Christian message - the heart of Jesus - the core of God.

It’s the message of mercy - forgiveness - acceptance  and love.

Close your eyes and feel the neck of Jesus on your underbelly as he holds you with joy on his shoulders - around his neck - like a lost sheep coming home.

Close your eyes and feel the warmth of God the Woman - her closed hands - holding you - her lost coin - celebrating you being found.

Close your eyes and feel the hug and the hold of God the Father holding us - his prodigal son or daughter - holding us with great love. Welcome home.


We all have two key days in our lives. They are on every calendar.

The first is our birthday.

There we were warm and comfy in our mummy’s tummy - just taking it easy - swimming around in the dark. And we thought this is it - peace and joy forever - and comfort - home. But all good things come to an end.

It’s moving day. It’s our birth day - and we come out and scream seeing those masked people - feeling all that  - pushing - squeezing  - or cutting and hurting.

Welcome home.

Oh no! Wait a minute. That light is bright - and who are all these people making funny sounds and faces at us.

But here we are - a whole new home a coming.

Happy Birthday….

The second day is our death day.

No, no, not now, now yet. I’m not ready.

There are two kinds of people. Those who believe there is nothing after death and those who believe there is.

I don’t argue with those who don’t believe in an afterlife.

Why argue? We can’t prove it. It’s faith stuff vs. fake stuff.

We’ll all die and if there is nothing after this. Well, we’ll never know.

But if there is, welcome home.

I’ve said this before in two homilies - but who remembers homilies -  that I once said to God, “If you’re not the God of Luke 15, then the hell with you. I’ll go find that God.” And I put my hand to my mouth and said, “Ooops!” And I took my hand away from my mouth and said again, “Yes, I believe in the God of Luke 15. I want to come home to that God - described by Jesus Christ.”

Did you hear the opening words of today’s gospel?

“Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Jesus wants to eat with us - all of us. He wants to eat us up and become one with us - to receive communion with us - to go to communion with us. Everyone.

We’re not there yet - but have you got that message yet?

Don’t we realize there are Catholics who don’t feel welcome  - Catholics who are like Duc, the guy I mentioned. They don’t feel welcome.  They don’t feel they have the proper papers. They don’t feel at home in the Catholic Church.

I’ve run into various Catholics who say, “Look who’s eating with Jesus. Look who is in communion with Jesus.”


The Pharisees amongst us say, “Wait a minute, Jesus didn’t mean that.”

The Scribes - those are the ones who could write, write the letters to those in authority - when this message is repeated - from the pulpit or wherever.

We’re allowed to give the short version of the gospel today - and end at verse 10 and skip the third parable - that of the Prodigal Son.

Obviously,  I would never do that, because Jesus in this 3rd parable, tells about the older brother.

Okay dad, okay God the Father, okay Holy Father, you’re welcoming home these other people, these sinners, but have you seen all the good I’ve done in my life - down through the years - and now at this last hour you welcome home this son of yours - who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fatted calf.” For him, you say, “Welcome home!”


And the Father now has to wait for the older son to come home - to see his brother back in the house and to come home and welcome his brother and say to him, “Welcome home.”

And “Ooops!”  - sometimes I’m the older brother to myself. I won’t forgive myself. I can’t be at home with myself because of my life.  Well, if that’s the case, thank God I’m not God. I build my own walls - and I make myself pay for them.  But God laughs at such nonsense, comes through walls, and says, “Peace!”