Saturday, October 29, 2016



Today’s first and third reading trigger the thought of noticing the little guy. So the title of my homily for this 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time [C] is, “Noticing the Little Guy, The Little Gal, the Anawim”

This is a key theme in the Hebrew scriptures: Don’t forget the Anawim. A N A W I M:  Aniwim. It’s the Hebrew word, for “The Little People.” The little people are God’s People.

This would be a good homily, if this week, everyone here noticed people we never noticed before - especially the little people - especially people we don’t think important – people we walk by every day.

This would be a great homily – if everyone here began to notice people we never noticed before – especially the unnoticed – for the rest of our lives.

This would make my day. It would also might make the day of the person we noticed.


God notices all people. God is concerned with all people.

Today’s first reading presents a paradox. It’s from the book of Wisdom. The author begins: “Before the Lord the whole universe is as a grain from a balance – a weighing scale in the market place - or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.”

What an amazing notice! This universe is vast. We have no clue how far and how many universes there are out there – and how far it goes.  Our universe doesn’t stop at our ceiling.

Spot a piece of dandruff on the shoulder of someone in front of you. The author is saying: “To God this vast endless looking universe is like that tiny, tiny speck of dandruff, skin that softly dropped off someone’s scalp to someone’s shoulder.”

Then the author switches his thought and says: “Even though everything is so small to God, God sees all. God has fashioned all. God loves everything and everyone He has made. God is a lover of all souls” God notices all!


We’re at a football game. The place is packed. People are everywhere. Whom do we notice? Whom do we see?

Parents notice their kid or kids on the field or in the stands. The rest of us might be spotting a running back or quarterback or cheerleader – or wondering where the beer man is.

God is spotting everyone. We are all God’s children.

We see those we know – sometimes. We see crowds. God sees every individual person – those on the field, those in the stands, the person in the ambulance reading the newspaper because he or she doesn’t’ like football, but is there in case of an injury.

God notices the little guy, the little gal, the Anawim.


I grew up on 62nd Street in Brooklyn, N.Y. We moved to that street because a man named Mr. Tim Scully told my dad about a house there. He had gotten my dad a job at Nabisco. I’ve heard several times that Mrs. Scully brought my mom to Victory Memorial Hospital for my birth. I don’t remember that.  I also have heard a story that Mrs. Scully once checked my head after she heard  I had fallen on my head in the basement  - right onto a hard cement basement floor. My head was soft. She got me to the hospital.

So Mr. and Mrs. Scully were very much part of our growing up years.

We went to their house to watch TV - especially the ball games before we had TV. At Christmas time I remember they had electric trains that went around the Christmas tree. We didn’t. We never did.

Well, one of their grandsons, Jack Scully, was All American football player at Notre Dame. He was a big guy. Notre Dame could use him this year. He then started for the Atlanta Falcons for about 11 years. Well, whenever the Falcons played on television, I saw crowds in the stands, players on the field, lots of people with numbers – but I found myself always looking for Number 64. I noticed Jack Scully. I didn’t notice the guy who held the clip board or Ipad for the coach.

When God watches us everyday, God notices the little guy, the little gal, the Anawim. God sees everyone of us – especially the unnoticed by everyone else.


A priest named Art Finan once gave a sermon at St. Michael’s Church in West End, N.J. His sermon was on today’s readings and every time I read these readings I remember what happened after that Mass – a Mass I wasn’t even at. I was having lunch with some people who went to that Mass and they were talking about the sermon that Father Art Finan had preached. He told them about the Anawim. I stole his sermon thought secondhand and you’re hearing it today. He said that the Anawim were like crumbs - the iddy bitty crumbs that fall off our toast onto a kitchen counter or onto the floor. The Anawim are the crumbs – especially those on the floor. We step on them.

God doesn’t. God is concerned with them. He sent the prophets to tell people to be aware of the unnoticed – the rejected.

He sent his son to reach out to them. He sends us to be for them.


A few years ago a Redemptorist priest named Joe Adamec died. I followed him after he got off the job as novice master for our students. I didn’t know that was going to happen when I once found myself dropping into our parish of St. Mary’s in Buffalo, N.Y. on my way somewhere.

Then, I found out at supper, it was Joe’s last night at St. Mary’s Parish there – before he left for Wisconsin to be Novice Master.

After supper, Joe asked me, “Do you want to see the parish?” I said, “Good.” It was raining. It was night. But he still gave me a great tour of the parish.  

The parish was in one of the toughest sections of Buffalo. Well, we went into bars and everyone said, “Hi Father Joe.” We went into this three story abandoned house. The roof had a big hole in it and I could see the night and the rain coming through. But I didn’t notice this guy living in a corner in some cardboard boxes. Joe knew he was there., “Hi Father Joe.”

9 years later I ended up taking Joe’s place as novice master and he went to our parish in Boston – that’s a small town in New England – that has people making lots of noise lately.

Years later, another priest, also named Father Joe, told me that he was covering two hospitals:  one for Father Joe Adamec and the other for this other priest for two weeks – so they could go on vacation. This second Joe, Father Joe Krastel - now here at St. Mary’s, Annapolis, told me that he goes to the first hospital, the one which Father Joe visited and it was the Haitian floor cleaners who kept asking, “Where’s Father Joe?”

Joe Krastel laughed, because when he covered the other hospital for this other priest, it was only the pretty nurses who kept asking where this other priest was.

Whom do we see? Whom do we notice?


I think of my dad. He had a fourth or fifth grade education.  One of his wonderful traits was his profound respect for all people – especially the little guy. I remember vividly him talking about the different men he worked with at Nabisco – those running the high lo’s, those running the elevators, etc. He would always be talking about these fellow workers with a rich smile on his face - people at work who fascinated him. Looking back, I loved that quality in my dad. He noticed the little people.


In today’s gospel, Jesus notices the Little Guy – Zacchaeus – up a tree and invites himself into Zacchaeus’ home. The town knew who Zacchaeus was – and they didn’t like him. As we read the Gospel of Luke – as well as the other gospels, we’re often surprised at the people Jesus noticed. It’s often people nobody else noticed.

As people read our gospel: the gospel according to Jane or Sarah or Evelyn or Larry or Bernie or Walter, who are the people they read that we notice?


The title of my homily is, “Noticing the Little Guy, the Little Gal, the Anawim.”

This week, let’s notice one another – especially the Little Ones.

Noticing is the step before loving one another. We have to notice each other first.

This week stop a few times before you take your next step. Notice who is around – who is surrounding you. Is there anyone you’re not noticing? Is there anyone you’re treating as a crumb – those whom you think are crummy – and invite them down off the tree or up from the floor and invite yourself into their life. Amen.  

October 29, 2016


He seemed to be so full of
himself - brag, brag, brag -
that he was scared  to make
room for anyone else in his life.

She seemed to be so full of
emptiness - quiet, quiet, quiet -
that she was scared to make
room for anyone else in her life.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016

October 28, 2016


Bread, broken, sliced, cut, shared….
Sitting here with you at this table ….
With you, with words, with wine ….
This is me…. This is my body ….
And even if you crucify me on some
bad Friday, I’ll make it a good Friday
with love, forgiveness, and resurrection.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Thursday, October 27, 2016

October 27, 2016


What’s worse? Going to your grandson’s
football game and they lose 41-0 or to
find out the team that beat them lost the
weekend before 41-7? You’re kidding!

What’s worse? Getting your car washed
and it rains on the way home?

What’s worse? Someone gives you a
5 pound box of dark chocolates and you
have to offer them to others because you
have serious and well established diabetes?

What’s worse? You quit a job you love
but they don’t pay enough. You get a new
job that pays you a  lot more - but then 
the first job calls and offers you a lot more
than what your new job pays you?

What’s worse? Your granddaughter has
twin girls and they name them after his
mom and her mother - both of whom
you can’t stand and don’t understand?

What’s worse? You don’t leave home
and you don’t mess up - and your younger
younger brother does - comes home -
is forgiven and he gets the hug and the
banquet and the dance and you feel you
never got nothing - no how - and never.

What’s worse? You work in the vineyard
from 9 to 5 - and the other guys and gals
only put in an hour or two and get the same
pay as you get? No way any of this is fair!

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

October 26, 2016


It was the year 3016 and nobody seemed to
know the ancient prayer: the Our Father.

Nobody…. Nobody…. Nobody…. Nobody
was aware of the prayer: the Our Father.

Nobody was praying…. Nobody was aware of
the beauty of daily bread and daily forgiveness.

Nobody was aware of the Kingdom
and working to bring it about each day.

Nobody made holy, hallowed or called out
on earth or into the heavens, “Our Father….”

Then someone found a copy of this
ancient prayer and things began to change.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
[I got this impression at a funeral lately.
I said, “Our Father” and nobody seemed

aware or dared to say, “Our Father….”]

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October 25, 2016


He never went to church, okay,

he went for Christmas and Easter.

She always went to Mass, okay,

sometimes she also went on weekdays.

They were married many years ago and

because of her, he started going to Mass.

He became a regular, in fact going

two times a week when he retired.

She stopped going to church.

He couldn't figure out why.

Both need to sit down at a table and

go to communion with each other.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016



The title of my homily for this 30th Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “Three Things I Know” or “Three Things I Learned.”

When I read today’s readings - a scripture passage hit me: but I don’t know where to find that scripture passage, so maybe I read it in some other book and it isn’t in the Bible. I don’t know.

Someone said somewhere, “Three things I know….”

So I looked up that phrase last night in a Bible Concordance as well as on Google and found possible possibilities.

The Book of Proverbs - chapter 30 has some numerical proverbs. Maybe that’s what I was remembering.

For example it has this text: “There are 3 things beyond my comprehension, 4 indeed, that I haven’t figured out: how an eagle makes its way through the skies, how a snake slides its way over a rock, how a ship makes its way through high seas and how a man deals with a younger woman.”

For example, “the earth trembles at 3 things - 4 which it cannot endure: a slave who becomes a king; a complainer who has had too much to eat, a jilted girl wed at last, and a slave-girl who supplants her mistress.”


Next I found mention of making lists. Some people like lists; some don’t.

How about you?

If you like them, here’s an exercise various folks can do today. Jot down 3 things you know. Have other family members or office workers do the same thing and then compare what each has come up with.

I also noticed that this simple exercise can be done by coming up with 5 things I’ve learned or 7 things or 10 things I learned or know.


Today’s readings triggered this thought so here are 3 things I learned from them.

From the first reading and then thinking about marriages that I know, I learned that those with a good marriage know what it takes to have a good marriage - and today’s text would not cause problems for them.

Today’s gospel triggered the thought that one knows when to use mustard - when mustard is used and how mustard makes a difference. So too compliments. They are the mustard or the mayonnaise on the sandwich called “conversations”.

Today’s gospel also tells us bread doesn’t rise without leaven - so too a Christian life - without the bread of life - without being Christian leven.


The title of my homily is, “Three Things I know.”  They are the things I learned about life.

I’m asking you to do your homework on this - so I did my homework last night. Here are 3 things I know.  Tomorrow my list might differ. The value of doing this now - putting them down on paper - pushes one to do some thinking.

So my 3 would be:
·       Nice makes things nice and nasty makes things nasty - so it’s nicer to be nicer than to be nasty.
·       We might be using the same words - and our dictionaries might be the same - but words coming out of our mouth are different than those same words coming from another.
·       There are consequences - and there are consequences from those consequences and on and on and on.


That’s homework for today: jot down 3 things you know - 3 things you learned.

Monday, October 24, 2016

October 24, 2016


Songs, better, some songs,
get recorded in our memory
without our being aware of it
and we hear  some haunting
melodies, music and lyrics,
for years and years to come,
like the ocean waves - ongoing
music hitting our beach day
after day, night after night,
on and on and on and on,
over and over and over again.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016


The title of my homily for this 30th Monday in Ordinary Time is, “Imitate.”

That’s a message from Paul.

Right here in Ephesians 5: 1, he tells us to imitate God.

Question: how does one imitate God?

In 1st Corinthians 11: 1, Paul tells the folks there to take him as a model. “Imitate me - as I imitate Christ.” 

That’s a bit clearer.

In 2 Thessalonians 3: 7 he’ says, “Imitate us.” He spells out what to imitate in the us. It’s,  “Work.”  It’s,  “Don’t freeload.” He says, “When we ate with you, we paid for our food. We hope you noticed that. We weren’t idle. We worked.”  I was taught to notice comments like that. Evidently, some people must have that as a complaint against traveling preachers.

In Galatians 2: 20, Paul tells us that “the life of Christ is in me and I am being crucified with Christ.”  Down through the centuries Christians have looked to the cross when they were carrying a cross.

So a message for today: reflect on the theme of imitation.


The word used for imitation in our Greek text is “mimeomai”.

We know the sound of that word - as in mimic - or imitation - or mimeograph. 

So it means to copy.

We’re born to mimic.

Yesterday I had four baptisms - and one little girl, “Elizabeth Ann” had this great smile - the whole time. When I saw that, I turned to see her mom’s face. She, her husband, the whole family were giving this baby their smiles or were they imitating Elizabeth Ann  and she was imitating them.

Education is all about being a mimic for starters.

Just watch kids and you’ll see imitation is the name of the game.

Kids in Chinese speaking homes are not speaking Lithuanian.

Just watch kids. They see their grandfather on a couch reading a book. They grab a book and sit in close to grandpa and start reading - even if their book is upside down.

Little kids imitate their older brothers and sisters.

Artists, actors, athletes, mimic other artists, actors, and athletes.


The book of Genesis starts off by telling us we’re made in the image and likeness of God.

How? For starters, be creative.

How? Keep the Sabbath, a day of rest.

But notice in today’s gospel, you can break the Sabbath, like Christ did, when it comes to caring and sharing with each other - even if it’s the Sabbath. The 10 Commandments were written in stone; the love commandments of Jesus were written with flesh and blood lips.

Paul tells us to imitate Christ. How? By going around and building up the body of Christ.

How? By handing over ourselves as a sacrifice for others and we’ll become a fragrant aroma. Nice.

How? By not being sinful or obscene or greedy or arguing or being in the dark?


The title of my homily is, “Imitate!”

Reflect upon the power of imitation.

Life imitates life all day long.

Look how the evening news programs are set up - one imitates the other - desk - words - what they cover.

Watch the TV commercials - for insurance, for cars, for medicines - they follow suit.

Now many CSI programs are there now?

The Catholic church has known this forever in giving us saints to imitate.

However if you want to sell your house, don’t bury yourself upside down in your backyard.

Sunday, October 23, 2016





The title of my homily for this 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C - is, “A.M. After Mass: Coming out of Church.”

That’s the theme that hit me - especially after reading today’s gospel.

In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us what happened to - two people who went to the temple to pray: “I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Around 9 minutes to 10 all of us here - more or less - will walk out of church - today - head for the parking lot - to get moving again.

What happened while we were here today? How will we walk out of church this morning? Jesus in today’s gospel challenged me with that question as I prepared this homily.


I write poems,  so I have some favorite poems. There is a preacher’s poem that grabs me, but it might not grab you - then again it might. It’s entitled, “In Church”, by Thomas Hardy.


“And now to God the Father,” he ends
And his voice thrills up to the topmost tiles
Each listener pervades the crowded aisles.
Then the preacher glides to the vestry-door,
And shuts it, and thinks he is seen no more.

The door swings softly ajar meanwhile,
And a pupil of his in the Bible class,
Who adores him as one without gloss or guile,
Sees her idol stand with a satisfied smile
And re-enact at the vestry-glass
Each pulpit gesture in deft dumb-show
That had moved the congregation so.

Woooooo! Interesting poem. I can picture the scene. Good poetry.

The preacher - as Thomas Hardy the poet - pictures him - is filled with himself - after he preached. He thinks he’s all alone.

That’s one of those questions: “Who are we when we are all alone?”

We priests - sometimes when we catch ourselves - on Sunday - say to each other, “How did your homily go?”

And we say things like, “Eeeh, I don’t know. I hope okay.”

Obviously, today’s gospel is telling us - where the action should be. It’s inside the temple of each person’s skull. In here. [Point to skull.]

Jesus knew the temple - the big temple in Jerusalem - as well as the local synagogues. Jesus knew that devote Jews would go to the temple at least 2 times per day to pray.

But Jesus went deeper - obviously - and began to talk about the inner temple - the inner room  - to go there in secret 2 times a day or whenever.

Jesus said to go to a place of prayer within - where only 2  are present - myself and God - not to be seen - but to be within - within God.

He saw too much posturing - too many Pharisees - like the Pharisee in today’s gospel - who went to the temple to pray - to themselves - to praise themselves.

He saw and heard too many people say the worst prayer a person can say: ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity.” Then he brags to himself about how good he is and how bad everyone else is.

What’s going on inside our mind today? Each time we come into the presence of God, is God present?  Are we looking in a mirror and only seeing ourselves?  Or are we in the real presence of God.

A test to run: What happens when we come into the presence of God?

If at first we feel small - sinful - less - not enough - that’s a good sign.

It’s like what happened to Peter when he first met Jesus. [Cf. Luke 5: 1-11.]

Jesus a carpenter tells Peter a fisherman how to fish - and where to fish.

At first Peter says, “Look, we just fished the whole night long - and caught nothing.”

Then Peter must have looked Jesus in the eye and realized, Jesus didn’t buy that. Jesus says, “Let’s go fishing. Launch out into the deep and lower your nets for a catch.”

And Peter does and his nets are filled to the breaking point and they call to another boat and they fill both boats to the full.

And Peter - experiencing greatness -  falls down in the presence of Jesus and says, “Get away from me - for I am a sinful man.”

Notice what happened there.

Jesus is just someone out there - like the way we all treat most people who are around us - on the planet.

For many of us - Jesus is just someone - God - just out there - not in here.

When we realize the greatness of Jesus - our God - we will feel smallness - sinfulness - at first.

The second step is the fullness of grace - gift - the lifting up of us as a human being towards greatness.

Jesus does not want to keep us - to see us - for us to see ourselves - empty - with empty boat or empty net.

It’s like when we think we know it all - and we walk into a library.

Notice the first guy in today’s gospel. He comes to the temple - filled with himself. Notice how today’s gospel begins: “Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.”

Notice the second guy in today’s gospel and how Jesus describes his thinking, “But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’”

And notice how Jesus ends his parable, his example, his story, “I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”


The title of my homily is, “A.M. After Mass: Coming out of Church.”

We come to church not to feel good about ourselves for starters - but to be better selves for endings.

We come to church to be challenged - and then to change.

Have we ever heard something that Jesus said that made us want to kill him - to put him on a cross and shut him up.

Today’s gospel can do just that.

If we come here to church to complain inwardly about others - to put others down - to humiliate others - so we can feel better about ourselves - then we’re in the wrong place within.

Let’s be honest, in the grand manipulation of politics, negative ads work.

Let’s be honest, in the grand manipulation of religion, negative thinking can abound - liberals vs. conservatives, church goers vs. non church goers, non-church goers vs. church goers - thinking how narrow minded they are - by going to church.

In that second reading for today,  we heard about runners. How many times do runners see people running to church and think they are better - exercising - feeling the fresh air - compared to sitting on their butts in a church hearing hot air - and vice versa.

I don’t have a cell phone - only when I’m on duty - and at times I think cell phones are crazy - that people can catch people at any time and any meal - and those with cell phones think non-cell phone users are Luddites - stuck in another century - out of touch - behind the times.

Besides all those zillions of cell phone conversations flying through the air - all the time - and zillions of e-mails and twitter and texted comments - hacked and not hacked - besides all that - there are those inner comparisons and conversations we all have - fat vs. thin, pants suits vs. whatever, tattoos vs. non tattoos, democrats vs. republicans vs. independents, young vs. old, and hundreds more comparisons. They are filling our world, our temples, and our minds.

Isn’t that one more reason we need to come to church to turn it all off. Isn’t that why we need to fix up our inner room, our inner temple, and drop in there at least 2 times a day to be  with God and God with us - to be in communion, holy communion, communication, calmness with God - and then to walk out of there and be in better communion, holy communion, communication calmness with ourselves and the people in our family - the folks at work - with neighbors - and friends?

The first step in any relationship with God or anyone else is to pause and realize that down deep I am blank, ignorant, and dumb when it comes to really knowing another. It means to have the humility to admit in all honesty: “I don’t know you. Therefore, I can’t compare myself to you.”

That’s the first step in any relationship with God and anyone else. The tax collector in  today’s gospel stays back - stays in the shadows. He knows he  doesn’t know God nor himself. He knows he’s an empty suit - a failure - when it comes to God and others. He knows he taxes them.

The second step is being justified - redeemed - rightened a bit - leaving church - and going home better than when we came into church today - because we’ve gone fishing a bit with Jesus - and he has given us some fresh fish - some new insights -  to swim with.


Hence the title of my homily for today: “A.M. After Mass: Coming out of Church.”
October 23, 2016


If we were God
and so and so
was praying to us,
or telling us, or yelling at us,
would we just yell back, 
“Shut up!”

Or would we do 
what God does: 
simply listen, listen,
till we hear what’s really
going on - going on and on
and on inside us?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
Photo: Haunting  Sculpture - Women
in Prayer, Centre Pompidou Malaga