Saturday, September 24, 2016

September 24, 2016


Aloneness - the sense and sound -
of that word - that statement - contains
about 83 percent negative feelings.

Aloneness - the feeling we all feel
when we’ve done something dumb -
or said the wrong thing in public.

Aloneness - in a far city - alone - and
at the moment our family back home 
is not going right - and we feel, “Uh oh!”

Aloneness - and we sense we’re
a lost coin - dropped by God - and
our faith that God wants us is gone.

Aloneness - and we’re found like a
lost sheep  or a lost child and nobody
really cares that we have returned.  

© Andy Costello, Reflections, 2016

Cf. Luke 15 - whole chapter

Friday, September 23, 2016

September 23, 2016


We know the feeling. We’re in an elevator,
subway, doorway - with too many people -
coming and going…. squeezing in and out -
or we’re squeezed into those moments
when a lot of people want us. They want  
our time - our  help - our  money, us.
We feel like a tube of toothpaste. We only
have so much of me in me. It’s at those
times I want to be in a car all by myself -
alone - no traffic, yet life feels like I’m in
the back seat of a car - stuck in traffic  -
somebody else is driving - and I’m trapped
between two other people and they are fat
and I can’t  move. I’m being squeezed.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

September 22, 2016

Once he hit 40,
he only noticed leather -
nothing else - not his
wife - not his kids -
leather - brown leather
shoes - the brown leather
bag the lawyer on the
other side of the table
reached into two times
during the meeting -
the leather steering wheel
cover in his brother-in-law's car -
leather - wanting leather -
without knowing it - wanting
better - wanting more -
don't we all?

 © Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


At some point we need to realize
we are what we eat - we are what
we choose - we are what we read - 
we are what we watch -  we are 
what we put on our plate. When 
we're kids, life is a sit down meal - 
but looking back, life is a buffet. 
Get up. Move. Grab a plate. Choose.

© Andy Costello Reflections 2016

September 21, 2016


She didn’t like fish.
Some people don’t like
where they come from -
even if it was zillions
of years ago.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

September 20, 2016


Salt and pepper -
but not sugar and salt.

Him and her,
but not him and her.

Forgiveness and mercy, sometimes,
but sometimes it's too difficult.

Heaven and hell, yes - at times,
but no, not in the long run - never.

Forgive and forget,
yes and no.

Fiddle and violin - no,
but fiddle and dancing - oh yes!

Rose petals and tissues, but
not sandpaper and sarcastic words.

Winter and summer, but you need
to have spring and autumn in between.

First and last, but sometimes
the last shall be first.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016


The title of my homily for this 25th Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “A Fly on the Wall.”

We’ve all heard and probably said at least 10 times in our lives, “Wow would I love to be a fly on the wall in that house.”  Or “at that meeting” or “when those two talk”.

“A fly on the Wall.”

That’s a wisdom saying.

Wisdom sayings are part of every culture.

For example, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

Or how many times have we said, “What goes around comes around”?

In a given life time I would think every person picks up 10 wisdom sayings - 10 proverbs - more or less - that they voice or think in triggered situations. They are not information. They are wisdom. They are about life and how they see life working.

I love to ask people in English who’s native language is not English: “Is there a saying in your language that says this?” Then I give a saying in English that goes like this: “The grass is always greener in the other person’s yard.”  And they think for a moment and tell me about apples or apricots being better on the other person’s tree.


Today’s first reading from is from Proverbs - Chapter 21: 1-6, 10 - 13 .

It gives us 10 Proverbs from Jewish life and culture.  I looked it up last night and notice that readings from the Book of Proverbs show up 6 times in our 3 year reading cycles. These 3 days we use them - but tomorrow maybe not - with the feast of St. Matthew. They give us a smattering of that book in the Bible.

Last night I read today’s first reading  5 times or more to see what they are saying. I also read a few different translations.

As proverbs only one grabbed me - the one about chasing bubbles - and when caught or grabbed bubbles break and disappear. That’s a common image and experience. Haven’t we all loved it when a little kid chased a soap bubble only to see it pop.

For those who complain that Bible readings are sexist, I noticed that whoever put together our lectionary skipped verse 9 from today’s first reading. Was it to avoid “uproar”? The saying is,  “Better to live on the roof than share a house with a nagging wife.” That could raise up a few protestors.  That could challenge some husbands and wives.


For a sermon I thought I’d use the image of that imaginary fly on the wall.

I think that’s what most of these psalms do.

They drag us to stop and see what we cannot see - what’s on that imaginary wall of the other.

They challenge us to be a fly on the wall.


Imagine a family going to California for their summer vacation. They  rent a car and are driving through a rich neighborhood near Hollywood. House after house they are going “Oooh!” and “Ah” at big mansion after big mansion in Beverly Hills.

A fly gets in their car and someone says, “Who let the fly in the car?

Then someone says, “Wouldn’t it be nice to be a fly on the wall in that house? And that house!  And that house.  And that house?”


Well this first reading is getting into the house - onto the wall - under the skin - under the skull - of the king. They get us into God, into those who do right, into someone who is proud, into someone who is lying, into someone who is rich, into someone who is arrogant, into someone who is poor, into someone whose bubble has burst.

It tries to challenge us to think outside our own walls - our own house - and walk in another shoes, settle into someone else’s home and to see more wisely.

The first step to wisdom then is walking inside the walls of God - to enter into the mind of God - into other person’s moccasins - as well as get inside the walls of this book of Proverbs. Amen.

Monday, September 19, 2016



The title of my homily for this 25th Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “On the Refrigerator Door.”

From time to time I’ve noticed sayings and slogans on refrigerator doors.

Or they might be on shelves, walls, or bathroom mirrors - or they are bumper stickers.

Do you have one?

Do you have a favorite saying?

Do you have a favorite Bible text?


The type I’m interested in -  is one that motivates us - pushes us - encourages us - focuses us - and has an action step.

It has to be short - clear - and specific.

Like: “By midnight - I’ll have given one compliment to someone today!”

Like: “Listen to someone today - really listen to someone today.”

Like: “Eyes - look at least one person in the eye today.”

Like: “I’ll take At least 10,001 steps on my Fitbit today.”

Like: “This week I’ll send at least one ‘Thank You’ note to someone.”

Like: “This week I’ll make at least one phone call to someone who would appreciate a phone call this week.”

Like: “A zipped lip can end a gossip slip!”


I got this simple idea for this homily from today’s readings.

The first reading is from the Book of Proverbs - which has hundreds and hundreds of one liners. [Cf. Proverbs 3: 27-34.]

Like the opening paragraph in today’s first reading…. It has two possible sayings for a refrigerator door.

My translation: “Don’t refuse to do a good deed that another has a claim on you to do - and you have the power to do it. Just do it.”

Second one - from the bottom of that first paragraph. My translation: “Don’t say to someone, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll do it -  when you can do it right now.”

Today’s gospel - Luke 8: 16-18 -  says that we put lamps on stands and not under beds - so if you get a light - don’t keep it hidden - put it on your refrigerator door.

“Just do it!” from Nike is a good slogan for some people.

The Serenity Prayer for many is helpful: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

My favorite Bible text is Galatians 6:2: “Bear one another’s burdens and in this way you’ll fulfill the law of Christ.”

This might be my last chance to say, “I love you!” so say it, turkey!

This is Bumper Sticker Stuff.

This is refrigerator door stuff.

In this way we’ll be light to our world. In this way we’ll be the salt of the earth.

In this way, we’ll make another’s day.


So the title of my homily is, “On the Refrigerator Door.” 

If you don’t have a slogan on your fridge - put one on today - and do it - and someone might spot it  - and they might say, “Great idea. I’ll try that too.”
September 19, 2016


Sometimes burnt toast
is tossed - it’s toast -
but for those who know,
strawberry jam covers
a multitude of sins
and forgives toast
for being burnt.
Try it - and add cold butter.


© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Sunday, September 18, 2016

September 18, 2016


I wanted to scream when I spotted
a Bible being used as a door stop.

It was stopping me from listening
to this nursing home guy I was visiting.

I didn’t say anything - but when he said
something - I said, “Wait a minute.”

I picked up his Bible - put a phonebook
in it’s place - and paged through it.

“Listen to this,” I said. He was all ears -
as I read the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

He then said, “Where did you get that?
What book are you reading from?”

“It’s your’s. I spotted it on the floor there.”
“Oh,” he said. “Let me keep that right here.”


© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016


The title of my homily for this 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]  is, “Scales.”

S   C   A   L   E   S   “Scales”.  If I was like Father Tizzio,  I’d have a scale in my hand to make my point. He’s the best I’ve seen in using props - to make a point.

I noticed the word “scales” in today’s first reading from the prophet Amos - when he goes after those who fix their scales for cheating - especially cheating on the poor and the unsuspecting.

And in today’s gospel,  the steward was ripping off his rich boss - and gets caught. He tells someone who owes 100 measures of oil to change the promissory note and lower it down to 50. Notice the measurement. And he tells another who owes 100 kors of wheat, “Here is your promissory note, write one for 80.”

When he loses his job, he wants to know people who owe him.


Does the overweight person change the adjustor on the underneath of the scale?

If you read the papers every day, you’ll often read little sidebar stories about someone cheating on gasoline pumps, emissions control numbers for cars, lessoning of weight in cereal boxes or candy bars or what have you or how old is the day old bread or donuts - or how accurate is the tag on the meat in the meat bin.

If you read the Bible you’ll notice from time to time that scales, weights and measures are a day to day issue for everyone - especially in the marketplace.

Caveat emptor. Buyer beware

“A thirteenth century parson, in words of classic directness, denounced the prevailing tricks of trade. His catalogue begins with workers in clothing who steal half the cloth, use guile in mixing hair with wool, and stretch a good cloth to make it into worthless stuff. He notes, in passing, the iron-workers who hasten too soon from their work that the house may fall down in a year or two; the traders who take the names of the saints in vain for wares scarce worth five shillings; the sellers of meat, the innkeepers, and the cooks, who keep their sodden flesh too long, bake rotten corn to bread, and betray folk with corrupt wine; and the boors who bring to town loads of goods that is all full of crooked billets beneath and lay hay on the wagon so cunningly that no man can profit thereby. He closes with the doctors, the shoemakers, the bakers, and the hucksters, and their respective temptations to quaint and profitable deceits.”  That’s from the Yale Law Review, Vol. XL,  June 1931, page 1140, in an article by Walton Hamilton, entitled, “The Ancient Maxim Caveat Emptor.”

Let the buyer beware.

Jesus had  a great awareness skill. He saw what was happening….

Read the gospel and be aware of what Jesus spotted - birds, bread, wine, good trees and bad - the marketplace - and fathers who have 2 sons. It’s an interesting way to read the scriptures.

Jesus must have spotted and studied a merchant who was very generous. Maybe the marketplace was just outside their carpenter shop in Nazareth. it wasn’t that big a town up there in Northern Palestine. If some lady wanted flour that merchant would  put some in her shopping bag - or garment - then shake it - so all would settle - then add some more and tap it down - and then add some more - to fill it to the brim.  Then Jesus said, “That’s the way to measure people - that’s the way to give to people. Have great generosity. That’s the way God measures people.”

“In fact,” he adds, “if we judge others with tiny measuring scales, that’s how we’ll be judged.”

There it is. Jesus is saying we have these scales inside our mind.

I hear him saying, “Check your scales.”

In today’s gospel I hear him saying, “Be wise, be smart, be prudent, do life like this guy in today’s gospel.”

He’s not saying to cheat or be dishonest, but he is saying, cheat and be dishonest like this dishonest steward - and cheat your way into heaven.

Let me try that again: Give others some room. Give them a break. Stop judging everyone, and you’ll get a break from God in the big judgment.

In fact, that attitude will creep into your everyday mind  and attitude.

That’s kind of calculating and funny - but that’s what Jesus is saying.


I didn’t realize till long after I finished our seminary what our moral theology professor taught us: justice is a big, big life issue.

I began to notice in my 30’s and 40’s and 50’s and 60’s and now in my 70’s that some people are off on fairness.

Some people are off on comparisons.

Some people don’t think that God is fair.

Some people think that God gives others a better deal than they got.

In other words - some people think that God is not just.

Here at 76 I’m still thinking about all this a bit.

I’m wondering: are there 2 kinds of people?  When they get their cake, some people look for their fork and some people look to see how big a piece the others got.

Do people do that all their life - from their 2nd or 3rd birthday - till today?

What kind of a person am I?

Are there 2 kinds of people, those who think they won and those who think they always lose out?

Are we happy with our kids, our salary, our car, our house, our spouse, our family, our story so far?

Check your scales.


Let me move towards ending this with a story that hit me. It presents a great contrast - a great comparison - and a great choice.

One of my favorite writers and speakers is a woman named Pat Livingston.

She once told the following story….

She was at poolside down in Florida where she lives.

Sitting there in a beach chair, she is watching the scene.

Over to her right - on a blanket is this large woman - in a small bikini - coming out of herself - from various places. She is laughing and telling jokes - and connecting with lots of people in her vicinity.

She has on one plate two hot dogs and on another a hamburger and lots of chips.

She doesn’t seem to worry about the numbers on a scale.

Over to her left - Pat spots a lady - all alone - walking towards the other end of the pool. She’s wearing this robe that covers her from top to toes.

She gets to the other end of the pool. She grabs the ladder and starts to descend into the pool. At each step, she raises the robe - up over her body and then her head. She’s wearing the perfect bathing. She’s in perfect shape. She doesn’t have half an ounce of extra weight or her perfect body. She swims the length of the pool 3 or 4 times. She heads for the ladder and smoothly goes up the steps putting her robe back on move by move.

Pat then says, “I’m looking at both women. Who would I rather be: A or B?”

Pat is rather thin - but obviously - she rather be A.


The title of my homily is, “Scales.”

I tried to get into looking at what do our scales look like.  How do we measure each other? How do we treat each other in mind and heart?

Are we cheating on ourselves and / or on others?

I don’t know how to end this, so let me end it with the last line in today’s second reading: “It is my wish, then, that in every place, men and women should pray, living up holy hands, without anger or argument.”



Drawings by Thomas Derrick