Saturday, October 22, 2016

October 22, 2016

METAL  DOOR

A big metal door,
bronze, brown, thick,
with grey granite steps
leading up to that door.

Pause…. hesitation …. "Uh oh!"

Is it locked.

Do I knock?

Do I wait?

Is there anyone
at a small desk -
just sitting there -
just inside waiting
for that door to open?

Life - too many times -
there’s a big metal door -
between the two of us,
husband ///// wife,
mother ///// daughter,
father ///// son,
neighbor ///// neighbor,
God ///// me.

"Knock ...."


© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
Cathedral Door and Steps
in Lund, Sweden
October 21, 2016

DRIVERS LICENSE

It’s the diploma….
It’s the passport ….
It’s the key to freedom ….
to the open road -
to distance oneself
from growing up -
to get away from family -
to get out of here
for a few years -
and then there is
the open road?
Who knows what is
the real drivers license
to what’s after that?


© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016


UNITED  NATIONS 

INTRODUCTION

The title of my homily for this 29th Friday in Ordinary Time is, “United Nations.”

I listened to all 3 Presidential Debates - as well as some of the primary debates - and I don’t remember hearing anyone say anything about the United Nations.  In fact, it seems to me, that it’s rarely mentioned - except for criticism. At least that’s my unsure analysis.

71 years ago it was the dream of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill (He got the idea in the bathtub) - to pull together the nations - to work for peace and harmony and unity. The earlier League of Nations from World War I time had failed - but lasted from 1919-20 till 1946-47.

THE TOPIC

I choose the topic of the United Nations of today’s first reading. Every time I hear it brings back a memory of the United Nations. This was something that happened to me when I was younger, much younger, I  decided on my own to visit the United Nations on a Saturday. The place was closed.



I turned around and saw the big wall with the words of Isaiah 2:4 carved into the stone: “These will hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles. Nations will not lift sword against nation, there will be training for war no more.”

Now that’s a text to throw into the Second Amendment debate discussions.

Then I saw a United Nations chapel across the street. I walked over. It was open.  I walked in and sat down and prayed for peace in the world.

As I sat there I saw that there was an Bible - I assumed it was a Bible  - laying open - all alone on the altar.  Being nosey - or intrigued -  I walked up front - climbed over the rope fence - and found today’s first reading from Ephesians. I didn’t look around to see if there were any search video cameras.

I stood there reading Ephesians 4:1-6 in the open book on the altar. Of all the texts in the Bible to pick for a chapel called, “The United Nations Chapel” this was a great choice.

Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace; one Body an one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Once more: that was a great choice for a United Nations message -  the call for all of us to work for unity.

A MESSAGE

My message for this morning would be: “Don’t po  po the United Nations.”

As already stated, the United Nations is rarely mentioned. It’s ignored. And when mentioned it’s often ridiculed.

Two comments:

First of all, if you don’t do any homework or study or finding out about the UN, listen to the issues the United Nations challenges us to work for: law and justice, drug trafficking and children trafficking.  It gets into human rights, peace keeping, feeding the hungry, financial stability, climate control, arms proliferation, drinking water, family, wages, to name a few.

Secondly, when people criticize the UN, simply ask, what have you read up about the UN? What do you know about it? What are its strengths? What are its weaknesses?  Maybe the person asked is University Political Science teacher or maybe they are someone who doesn’t have a clue about what they are talking about.

Pope Francis on September of 2015, Benedict in 2008, John Paul 2, in 1979 and 1995, and Paul 6th in 1965, spoke at the UN. What did they say? Have you read their comments? Would you still say what you’re saying about the United Nations after considering what they said at the UN?

CONCLUSION



Work for unity today. Pray for the UN today.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

October 20, 2016

SLIGHTLY

As in a curtain waltzing,
or green grass shaking
on my small green lawn,
or a new born horse
getting her legs - standing,
or a tire wearing - hitting
29,333 miles on the road,
so I age ever so slightly,
so I know You God each
day slightly more and more.



© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

TWO  WORDS: 
INSIGHT  AND  INSCRUTABLE

INTRODUCTION

The title of my homily for this 29th Wednesday in Ordinary time is, “Two Words: Insight and Inscrutable.”

I noticed both these words in the English translation for today’s first reading from the Letter to the Ephesians.

Insight as in “my insight into the mystery of Christ….”

Inscrutable as in “the inscrutable riches of Christ….”

IT’S GREEK TO ME

I often notice in books about preaching, “Don’t quote Greek words in the pulpit.” Then they give the reason: “It turns people off” or “They have no clue what you are talking about.”  or “It’s Greek to me.”

Yet the New Testament is written in Greek. We’re dealing with translations from the pulpit in the readings at Mass. So the Greek is very important. We have gone beyond the days when people thought the Bible was written in King James English.

Moreover, when I read the English translation - like that of today’s first reading from Ephesians - I get a thought - and say, “Wow that’s a good idea to think about.” That’s what happened when the two words - insight and inscrutable jumped up out of the text for me today.  

It’s then that I hear a challenge: “Check out the Greek.”

Then I say to myself, “Will what I found out help those I’m talking to today?”

Then I sometimes say, “Give it a try. If it’s boring, it’s only a 2 page homily.” [Show 2 pieces of paper.]

SO HERE GOES WITH SOME TRANSLATION COMMENTS

I couldn’t find the word “insight” in other translations.

Insight means seeing within. Seeing within. An insight is seeing what’s inside. 

The Greek word is “sunesin” - which can be translated, “insight” or  my “perception”, my “understanding”, my “putting two and two together”, or “figuring”, “considering”.

The refrigerator door is closed and it’s dark and cold in there. When we open up the door, the light goes on and we see some of the things that are within the refrigerator.

And what does Paul get in insight into: Christ.

On the road to Damascus he was blinded - and as a result he was in the dark - and in the dark he saw a new light: Christ.

As they say in AA and other 12 programs, “Sometimes you have to hit bottom to rise.”  “Sometimes you have to bottom out - to get out from where you are under or within.”

So Paul got the insight to see who Christ is - the one he was persecuting.

The next word is “inscrutable”.  I don’t ever remember using that word - but it’s a good word. In Greek the word is “anexichniaston”.  It means “inscrutable” or “unsearchable”, “without a footprint”, “something that we can’t trace”.

Paul is saying that Christ is all gift.

Today’s gospel talks about a thief breaking into a house.

We can say to Jesus, break into my house. Break through my walls. Enter into me and don’t let me wait. Surprise me now. Today, open up this cold refridgerator called “me” and put the light on - and let me see your presence within me.

And I will serve you.

And I will stop beating others - being rough on others. I will serve them instead.  They deserve my service

CONCLUSION -


Surprise. Jesus will sit us down and serve us the best of bread the best of wine. Surprise! Isn’t that why we’re here at Mass? We’ve had that insight years ago and have been taking advantage of being within Christ the inscrutable insight ever since.
October 19, 2016

MISTAKE

It was the wrong thing to say ….

But….

Nope, it was the wrong thing to say….

I feel so stupid, so dumb….

Nope, I won’t say next time ….

But….

I’ll ask, “What is the lesson here?

What’s the learning here?

My buttons? My inability to walk away?

It’s also forgiveness … starting with the other….

Then it’s forgiveness - forgiving myself….

It’s understanding: we all make mistakes.



© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
October 18, 2016

HEY, I’M _________

I am _____________

What is my first answer to that question?

What does that say about me?

How do others describe me?

Someone said, “Give 25 answers
to the question, “Who am I?” and
somewhere around 18 you’ll start
to really get to who you are?

Who am I?

I am ____________



© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
October 17, 2016

MOMENTS


There are moments,
and then there are moments -
moments we didn’t see coming
at that moment - but I gave it
all to you and now looking back
that moment changed my life.

There are moments,
too many moments - that slipped
through my hands like water -
flowing from the faucet and
I was looking in the mirror - looking
only at myself and I missed you.


© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
STAYING POWER

INTRODUCTION

Today I’d like to reflect on the theme of “Staying Power” or “sticktoitiveness” or "fidelity" “persistence” or “perseverance” or “capacity for faithfulness” - or to  "have a super glue" way of doing life. 

The title of my homily is, "Staying Power."

So use any word or words that will get across the quality of perseverance in getting things done that are important.

Today’s three readings - for this 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C] bring out that much needed virtue - especially in this day of instant this and instant that - and broken commitments, and escapisms, etc.

I don’t know about you, but my issue is procrastination - and the solution is another word beginning in "p": perseverance.

FIRST READING

In the first reading Moses stands on top of hill praying for Joshua and his men who are fighting Amalek in battle below. This story, which is quite well known by most preachers, is a dramatic example of staying power. Moses keeps his arms up like Christ on the cross, but as soon as his arms start to slip, the Israelites fighting below start to lose the battle, so Moses asks Aaron and Hur to help him keep his arms up and finally to put rocks under his arms to keep them from falling. Now that’s fidelity.

We can relate to this story.

When we were in school, we all had to use “tooth picks” to keep our eyes open to get a term paper or to use coffee to stay awake or to go outside to get some cold air, so that we can finish that term paper.

We all know people who visit family members - like every day - when they are in a nursing home.

We all known what it is to be on an all night vigil at a hospital supporting someone who is dying or in need of our presence.

SECOND READING

In the second reading we have Paul talking about how important this virtue of persistence is with regards Scripture. Every preacher knows that it takes lots of dedication to learn the sacred scripture. It takes lots of study, lots of courses, lots of papers. To be trained in holiness through the scriptures, we need to spend many hours in prayer - so that we may become fully competent and equipped for every good work.

Then Paul tells us that our job is to preach the word - staying with this task whether it’s convenient or inconvenient, correcting, reproving, appealing - constantly teaching and never losing patience.

So it takes a lot of fidelity to prepare decent sermons Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. It takes a lot of prayer and reflection, over and over and over again, so as not to give people leftovers.

And it’s especially difficult because sermons deal with invisible stuff. In the hard work of putting together meal after meal after meal, at least we can see leftovers.

GOSPEL

And today’s gospel pushes this theme par excellance. The widow wears down the judge by her “staying power”.

Jesus tells us that this is how we are to pray - to be like the widow - to keep on nagging God. And if an unjust judge can be broken, how much easier it is to wear down a just judge like our God?

Commentators tell us that the judge was probably a crook who was hoping for a bribe. Since it was a case that called for just one judge, it was probably a case that had to do with money. An interesting note is the word “hypopiazein” which in the NAB is translated as “by doing me violence”. It means “to hit under the eye” or “to get a black eye”. It’s a term taken from boxing. So the judge acts out of fear. Our God acts out of love.

EXAMPLES

So the message that I am pushing today is that we all look at our “staying power.” It’s certainly a quality that is needed in this life.

People who are Pro Life need staying power. It’s going to be a long battle. It has been and will be for years to come. They need to keep their arms up like Moses and they need each other to walk arm in arm.

People who are protesting and staging sit-in’s against nuclear arms, also need staying power.

Or if we are working on personal issues like pride, jealousy, laziness, overeating, overdrinking, oversleeping, lust, bitching, whatever, then we need this virtue of patience and persistence.

We need staying power.

And we can’t forget that that we are not doing it alone. If we keep on praying for a gift, we’ll find ourselves working to have that virtue and gift. Prayer, as in communication in any relationship, will eventually force one of us to break and change.

There was a homily by George McCauley, years ago in America homily on these readings.  He faced the question of chastity.  He said that if keep praying for chastity, we’ll eventually see ourselves changing. First, it will be a growth in honesty. Next, it will a change in our attitude towards how we treat others. Next, we’ll see the ramifications of chastity in the energy levels of our life and on and on and on.

Jesus told this story with the theme of prayer as his main goal. He challenges us to be like that widow. Pray. Prey on the judge. “Could you not watch one hour with me.” So I keep this woman in mind here who nags and nags and nags, hoping that you will make a judgement in favor of taking time out each day for prayer.

Life calls for staying power - in any situation in any job.

It could be doing an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.

It could be taking care of our health - getting enough exercise and flossing our teeth.

It could be making sure our car is running well - and we have an eye on its maintenance.

CONCLUSION

Hopefully we hear Jesus’ message.
It can be summed up in one word: nag.

Or three words, “Nag, nag, nag.”
October 16, 2016

DUST

Floating in a quiet room,
dust ……………………........
…………………………..........
…………………………..........
planets moving till they
find a resting place ……..
………………………............
…………………………..........
Do they gather here and there
so they can tell each other where
they’ve been  since the beginning
of the universe?...........
………………………………………
………………………………………
Who said History is boring?



© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
October 15, 2016

TATTOOS

Ink on skin…. When our ballpoint pen
leaks,  we try to wash the stain away.

Tattoos - ink on skin…. Why would
anyone want to do that deliberately?

Yet school kids write ballpoint pen
messages on their skin all the time.

Tattoos - mechanically inked into skin,
flowers, crosses, knives and names....

They remain - like forever - so too hurts,
words, memories inked into our forever.


© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
October 14, 2016


PICKING  CUTS 

Why do I pick my cuts?
Why do I edge my finger nails
under my scabs - the hard
blood healing of my cuts?

Why do I do this every time -
down through the years, all
my life - not allowing healing -
the healing of my cuts to happen?

Why as priest, have I found out
people do this on the skin of their
soul - much worse, much more?
“Scab”, “Scar” not romantic words.




© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
October 13, 2016

MOTION  SICKNESS


I see people coming out of church,
out of work, out of stores, out of school,
heading for their cars…. moving, rushing ….
Gotta get going…. Gotta get moving….
Everyone seems to be in such a hurry.
Gotta got rushing, crushing into what’s next….

I see people  differently in church, at work,
in stores, at school, but only in the first
moments of the new of what have you.
Then comes the yawns. Endings seem more
important than beginnings - but only near
the endings. Does this explain the rush?


© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
October 12, 2016


VICE  VERSA 

She tended to always see
another side of a thought -
another side of a conversation.

Obviously, at first,
this annoyed people - but by
the next day - came the, “Yeah!”

But this also angered
those stuck on the outside,
those who never saw a vice versa.



© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

RELIGION  AND FREEDOM 

INTRODUCTION

The title of my homily for this 28th Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “Religion and Freedom.”

When it comes to becoming a religious person, as well as a spiritual person, we have to get our minds and hearts on what it means to be free.

It’s my sense from the gospels - that Jesus wants to set us human beings free. It’s my sense from the gospels that Jesus didn’t like experiencing the way his religion - Judaism - got so petty and picky - restrictive and binding.

It’s my sense from being a Catholic since birth, that those who take over are those who stress Law, Rules, Regulations, Have-to’s, instead of seeing all as gift and freely giving.

This message of freedom vs. the law is in all 4 gospels. Check out today’s gospel - and check out the 8th Chapter of John.

GALATIANS AND ROMANS

Check out today’s first reading from the 5th chapter of Galatians - as well as its parallel texts in Romans 6:15ff.

Would people who know me describe me as strict and severe or sweet and easy?

Paul - as we can glean from Galatians and Romans - is off on not being stuck in strictness - when it comes to religion and the Law.

Why are some people strict and why are some people a piece of cake?

Was it because Paul  was a zealot, strict, picky, picky, picky when it came to the Law?

We’ve all heard people who are on diets, wanting others to be on a diet as well. Reformed smokers or drinkers can become really pushy.

We would hope that people who have become free from addictions or what have you, would become more understanding of others who are still trapped.  

THE LAW

“Know yourself” - “Gnothi seauton”  - is one of the famous Ancient Greek STOP signs for every human being.

Know yourself - how you’re mouthing off - how your mattering.

Every thought matters.

They are us.

So it’s good to know ourselves, how we are thinking, what laws we go by….

The Law! To know Judaism - we need to know all about the Law. The Law was  supposed to be hedge to protect us. The Law was made for us - not the other way around.

But people tend to make the Law more important than the person - the law was made to serve. Instead of hedges, people made the law a wall with broken glass on top.

The key sense to have about the law - is its benefits - not its restrictions.

When we were studying our Laws - for our Province - I learned about the word “ordinarily”. Ordinarily, it’s good to add the word “Ordinarily” comma, before laws.

So it’s good to know ourselves, to know what’s going on, and to know the inner workings of a person.

To know Paul - and his letters - like today’s letter to the Galatians - we have to read autobiographical and biographic details of Paul in the Acts of the Apostles and in his letters.

The yoke of the Law was chaffing him. It was not the gentle yoke that Jesus often talked about.

TODAY’S GOSPEL

In today’s gospel from Luke 11: 37-41 - Jesus runs into this same fix people can get themselves into when it comes to the law.

The Pharisees - Paul was one - were off on ritual washing - to the extreme - and they went after Jesus and his disciples who seemed to be free of any extremes when it came to the law.

Jesus said: you’re off on looking good on the outside - instead of going within. Become clean in there - and you’ll be clean.

Remember the beatitude, “Blessed are the pure of heart and you’ll see God.”

USING  GOING TO MASS AS AN EXAMPLE

Let me use going to Sunday Mass as an example….

People break a leg - or have to take care of a sick parent - and they can’t get to Mass. They feel guilty and feel they have to confess the missing.

Or they are traveling or on a cruise and they can’t get to Mass.

I’ve heard people say they want to change the word “obligation” to “opportunity”.  So we have Holy Days of Opportunity - or there is Sunday opportunity.

Notice the word religion has in it that word “ligament” - which means binding.

So when it comes to Mass - or when it comes to any situation, at some point - we need to be here not out of obligation or law - but because we want to be at this meal - because we want to be here.

When it comes to commandments - I rather see Jesus, the Word made flesh - showing me how to love the Father and one another - more than seeing the Ten Commandments written in stone.

CONCLUSION

So when it comes to religion, have we become free yet?
October 11, 2016

SUDDEN

Slow preferred,
but sudden happens….

So sometimes
we can’t go slow -
till we’re on the other side
of what happened - like:
opening a wrong door,
putting my foot in my mouth,
a surprise death,
a deep rejection.

Yet, slow is possible
for the processing,
for the figuring out
of what happened - 
but only maybe ....
and only sometimes....



© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016