Saturday, November 26, 2016

November 26, 2016


Hands wrapped around a warm
cup of tea, coffee or cocoa - on
a cold day - escaping from work -
indoors from outdoors  - just sitting
with friends - it’s moments like these
that put deep spiritual meanings and
overtones into a word like communion.  

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Friday, November 25, 2016

November 25, 2016

For a while there,
the handrail enjoyed
the feel of children’s hands.
It could feel the excitement
of a kid’s heart and imagination
as they rushed down steps
to hard sidewalk and a wider world
or using that handrail to climb back
up the stairs into their house
for the feeling of safety and security.

And the handrail also enjoyed
the sense of security it gave to us
old folks - who hesitate at the top
of stairs knowing - one fall - just one fall -
could bring broken bones - and no stairs
for months - just more cooped up time -
but what was missing was  - the hand grip
of teenagers bounding and bouncing
down the center of the steps - hands
free - with no fear of falling or the future.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

November 24, 2016


There is a certain pause and awe

when entering or going by sacred places:

The white cross with a name 

on it along the side of a road....

The place of the first kiss - which

became the place where we gave
the engagement ring - surprise....

Certain benches in certain churches....

The beach looking out to the ocean - early morning - especially sunrise ....

A cemetery with a hill with many granite stones....

Reaching the top of a high hill or mountain....

Milk and chocolate chip cookies with grandma....

An old bicycle in a garage ....

A boat or railroad whistle in the distance ....

The father walks down the aisle with his daughter on her wedding day ....

Touching a casket at a funeral of a loved one....

Leaving the hospital holding one's newborn first baby ....

Walking down the aisle - after a funeral service - as pallbearer to one's closest friend of 43 years....

Thanksgiving Dinner 2016 with the whole family....

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
November 23, 2016


Is there any reality more basic,
more acceptable than bread:
broken, buttered, handed to,
never disliked - no ego - you’ll
spot that at times when it comes
to wine - bread never the main
event - just bread being bread -
waiting, sitting - there on a plate
or in a basket - listening - ready
to do what bread does: feeds us?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

November 22, 2016

EMPTY ______  FULL ­­­­______    

Some people seem to have to keep
on telling us about themselves -
what they are doing - what they are
thinking - going on and on and on.

It seems to me they are running
on empty - scared to go face to face
with their emptiness - with themselves -
and God forbid with us out here.

And it seems to me some people have
no walls - no locks - no doors - and they
are all ears - always listening - but they  
never tell us about themselves.

It seems to me they too are running on
empty - scared to face themselves -
what’s within - the missing - the emptiness -
never seeing God and us in their emptiness.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016

Sunday, November 20, 2016

NOVEMBER 21, 2016


It's everywhere - these tiny dots of dust.
They are telling us that all is being chipped
away - off the old block. Skin is flaking.
Trees are losing some of their bark.

I guess what I want to see is resurrection -
new life - the coming together of dirt and
dust to make fruits and vegetables - cows
and chickens, you and me, new life.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2016
November 20, 2016


Is there such a word as "turbed"?

I've never seen it.  But we all know
the meaning of "disturbed".  Is turbed
its opposite? Probably not.... It doesn't
sound too peaceful and we know the
meaning of turbulence - when it comes
to weather when it gets nasty or when 
a crowd gets dangerous or rowdy. 

But I still want to feel the opposite of disturbed.

                                                                                                      © Andy Costello, Reflections 2016



The title of my homily is, “What’s He or She Like?”

That’s a question everyone asks at various times throughout our lives.

“What’s he like?”

“What’s she like?”


Your son or daughter announces they are dating someone.

“What’s he like?”

“What’s she like?”

You get a new pastor or a new boss or a new neighbor.

“What’s he like?”

“What’s she like?”

“What are they like?”

Your mom or dad gets remarried. What’s the new one like?

I was giving a priest retreat once. I’m babbling away with a talk around 4 in the afternoon. A priest way back in right hand corner of this big room holding about 90 priests  taps a priest on the shoulder in front of him - hands him a folded piece of paper and whispers something to him and points to someone near the front of the room. That priest does the same thing - passing the piece of paper - and whispering - and the paper moved forwards. While speaking I’m watching this note and this offertory procession moving towards the front.   The paper gets to a guy in the 4th row - who looks at the note - takes out his ballpoint pen - writes something on the paper note and sends it back - person to person. All this took about 5 minutes. It didn’t bother me - but it did intrigue me. Interesting.

After the talk the original sender came up to me to sort of apologize. He told me that they just heard they were getting a new bishop and they were dying to find out about him. They knew the guy up in the 4th row knew the bishop whom they were about to get and they wanted to know, “What was he like?” Then he added that the guy in the front simply wrote, “Good guy!”

“What’s he like?”

“What’s she like?”

I remember being in a rectory basement with about 25 couples and kids enjoying a Super Bowl Game on TV. The highlight every year was not the game but the commercials, the TV ads. I remember the one that got the greatest reaction was a scene - I don’t remember what the commercial was for - of two guys in an apartment. One says - “My new girlfriend is coming over with her mom.”  The other guy says, “What does her mom look like?” The guy says, “I don’t know. I haven’t met her yet.” The other guy says, “Well if you want to know what your girlfriend will look like in 20 years, take a good look at her mother.”  The doorbell rings. The guy looks out the peephole and sees the face of his girlfriend’s mom. Absolutely gorgeous and he gives with a great smile - a thumbs up to his buddy. He opens the door and in comes his girlfriend and her mom and dad - and her mom has a big…. Better not go any further behind that….

Well at that Super Bowl party, I noticed that here were  mixed reactions to that TV commercial. Some guys were laughing - some guys were very quiet.

“What’s he like?”

“What’s she like?”

How do we react to comments that trigger thoughts about ourselves, or others,  how we look, how we are? Size and shape and personality?

What are we like?

Here’s a self test: Check three:

Sensitive?____ Aware?_____ Not aware? _____ Hurtful? ______ Listens? _____  Learns ______ Clown______ ? Prudent? ______  Smart? _______
Stupid_________ Thoughtful_________

“What’s he like?”

“What’s she like?”

What am I like?


What’s God like?

If we read the scriptures, we’ll find out that there are all kinds of descriptions of God - just as in the Koran and various other sacred writings.

Today’s feast is, Christ the King.  What kind of a king is Christ?

He was certainly not like King Saul or King David - kings mentioned in today’s first reading - 2 Samuel 5:1-3

Last Wednesday - in the weekday gospel from Luke - we heard the parable of the nobleman who went to a far country to obtain a kingship. Before he left he gave 10 of his servants each a gold coin and told them to trade with it  till he gets back. We also hear that this nobleman was despised. We also hear about him coming back and asking each servant how each did. The first said, “Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.” “Well done good servant,” the nobleman replied. “You have been faithful in this  very small matter; take charge of ten cities.”  The second made 5 more and got charge of 5 cities. The next servant said he was scared - scared of you - and because he was afraid - he stored the gold coin away in a handkerchief. The nobleman got really angry - told his servants to take that gold coin and give it to the guy with the 10. Then the parable has the nobleman saying, “Now  as for those  enemies of mine who don’t want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.”

Uh oh! Is this mid-east way of thinking?

Uh oh! Is this the way some people see God?

If God is noble, if God is a king, if God is our Father, what kind of person is God?

Do we have to die to find out?

As priest I’ve heard all kinds of descriptions about God? I’ve heard all kinds of assumptions about God?

What is God really like? What’s been your experience of God?

What is your image of Jesus? Is he the visible image of the invisible God - as we heard in today’s second reading from Colossians 1: 12-20.  If yes, the question still remains: how you see Jesus? What is he like to you? What texts do you build your image of Jesus on?

When I’m sitting with someone in counseling or what have you, I sometimes  ask: “Okay you die. You meet God. What’s God like? What’s going to happen?”

There is often a pause right there.

It’s my experience that people often give God a good report - but then comes the, “I hope so. I hope I’m right.”

If God is a Father, what kind of Father is God like?

Does how our own dad is make a difference?

If God is a Mother, and that image is in the scriptures, and Pope John Paul I, described God that way, does how our own mom is make a difference in our understanding of God?

What happens if mom is very tough and dad is a piece of cake - or vice versa? How does that effect our image of God?

You’ve heard, I’ve heard 1,000 sermons - from deacons and priests and preachers, does how they are make a difference.


How do I conclude this?

Be a thief…. Be a good thief.

Today’s gospel has the good thief on the cross saying, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus replies to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” [ Cf. Luke 22:35-43.]  

I noticed a lot of people made use of the holy doors in this year of mercy. It ends this Sunday - more or less. So there will be no more so called “Holy Doors of Mercy” for a while  - but let’s hope our churches are always places of welcome and places of mercy - please God forever.
However, the Stations of the Cross remain in all our churches.

I suggest whenever you come to church, sit under the 12th station and say the prayer of the Good Thief. “Jesus remember me when you come into your Kingdom” and hear Jesus say, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Then say, “But not yet, O God, not yet.” 

Painting on top by Andrew Wyeth