Saturday, January 28, 2017

January 28, 2017


Colors fade, fabric, drapes
near windows - couch covers
in time - and many ups and
downs - come to think about it -
when people move to Florida
or Colorado - or a dad dies -
memories, moments, stories
start to fade - drifting into
grey clouds that slip into the
distance - down to the bottom
of the earth, water, sky within.
But then again - someone says
something - I hear a song -
I drive past the past and you
rise for a moment and I remember.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


© Andy Costello, Reflections 2017

January 27, 2017


Forgiveness for starters.
Eventually accepting who and what is:
oatmeal and the parents we have.
Being held - being told we’ll enjoy
the roller coaster - “Don’t be scared!
We’re here!”  Then ice cream together
on hot nights - with mom and dad  -
watching them enjoy it as much
as we do. Schools: a good education
and enthusiasm - music and play.
Religion - and being able to
question questions - along with
doubts and seeing faith - not just
in church, temple, or mosque, but in
feeding the poor and helping
fix up and paint a house or two.
And enjoying the breeze - like a
a Labrador does while driving - cool air
coming through an open car window
riding down the roads of life.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2017

Thursday, January 26, 2017

January 26, 2017


What’s wrong with hesitation?

It gives us space to pause -
to assess - to listen - to see -
to not step on banana skins.

It prevents dumb - giving answers
to questions the other isn’t asking.
In fact, it gives us questions to ask.

It gives us a chance to say,
“The one who hesitates isn’t lost.
They are the ones who can be found.”

What's wrong with hesitation?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2017

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

January 25, 2017


It seems to me that you’re locked up
- locked into yourself - so why do I
keep wondering if there is a key to
understanding you?  Hell!  It seems
you’ve closed your mind  and threw 
away the key a long, long time ago.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2017

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

January 24, 2017


I don't notice tree after tree after tree….
I see the forest. I don’t see the trees. I do 
this same thing to so many people. I bypass them …. I seem to notice only the beautiful -
but oops  - lately - because of you, Lord Jesus - hanging on the tree of the cross I'm beginning to see the gnarled and the odd shaped…. More!

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2017


The title of my homily for this feast of  St. Francis de Sales  is, “One Word Self-Test.”

Could each of us describe ourselves with one word?

How accurate would that self-description be?

How objective - how subjective would our one word description be?

If each member of our family were given a piece of paper and asked to describe each person, would others come up with the word we put down to describe ourselves?


I went to a wake last night - especially because I had no clue who it was whose funeral will be today.

At a wake, depending on the circumstances, I sometimes ask folks to yell out a one word description of the person who has died.

Sometimes there is “Oh yeah!” when someone yells out a one word description of a person.  Rarely is there an “Oh no!” - just silence.

I’ve heard words like, “Funny” or “Sweet” or “Giving” or “Generous” or “Happy” or “Neighbor”  or “Present” or “Listener” or “Hard Worker”.

So what word describes us?


Do we have any say in the matter?

Or does it just happen that we become the person we have become?

Can we change?

Could a person sit back and say, “This is the type of person I want to be and then become that type of person?”


I began thinking about this last night as I began thinking about St. Francis de Sales - the Patron Saint for today - January 24.

I began thinking about a priest, Freddy Prenatt, who taught us in the seminary. He loved to quote St. Francis de Sales and I have tried to put into practice in my life what I heard.

Freddy would love to say to someone when they were upset, “Con calme!”  “With calmness.”

Would anyone of us want that to be described as “calm”  - at our funeral - because that was their experience of us?

How about the word, “Generous” - another great message of St. Francis de Sales?

How about patience - which was a very strong message from St. Francis de Sales.


Freddy often quoted this doctor of the church -  his dates 1567 - to - 1622. Evidently he read his stuff thoroughly - and as the psalm for today put it, “he put a new song into my mouth” - well, he put the words and ideas of St. Francis de Sales into our ears.

St. Alphonsus used to quote him as well.

Here are a few quotes on 3 themes from St. Francis that bring out these basic messages:

First Patience:

"What we need is a cup of understanding, a barrel of love, and an ocean of patience." [Saint Francis de Sales]

 And “Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.”  [Saint Francis de Sales]

Second calmness:

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit.[Saint Francis de Sales] 

 And “Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” [Saint Francis de Sales]

Third work on self - not others:

“Don't sow your desires in someone else's garden; just cultivate your own as best you can; don't long to be other than what you are, but desire to be thoroughly what you are.” [Saint Francis de Sales]

Monday, January 23, 2017



The title of this short reflection is, “A Second Can Change a Life.”

I’m sure that thought has hit us for a second or two at different times in our life.

I don’t think I gave too many other seconds - or second thoughts - about that reality, but that’s what hit me when I read today’s gospel especially.

“A Second Can Change a Life.”


A person is driving along alone and their cellphone rings and they automatically reach for it - and it has shifted to the other side of the empty other passenger seat - and they look over to see where it is and boom another person in another car suddenly shifts lanes in that split second.

A second can change a life.

A doctor is looking at x-rays all morning - and says to herself or himself, “Wait a second. Let me look at this x-ray again?”  And in that second opinion - in that second look - they spot something they didn’t spot in the first look.

A second can change a life.

A person in a moment of anger yells at us as we both come around a corner in the supermarket and almost crash into each other. One person yells, “You jerk. Why don’t you watch where you’re going?” One person bites their tongue and says nothing.

A second can change a life.


On second thought, perhaps the reason I got this thought from today’s gospels was the word, “demon”.

In today’s gospel we hear the scribes  - they are those who can write - the more educated ones - attacking Jesus for being possessed by Beelzebub - a great name for the so called, “Prince of Demons”.

In Jesus’ time, people used the word “demons.” They were spurts, blurts, darts of anger and frustration and irrationality that erupted out of people - sort of all of a sudden - and in a split second - a person threw a rock or a word at another.

They are what causes division in a house or a family or a marriage or a community.

And often we have to live with the consequences of a split second act or action.

If it’s bad stuff - it’s called a demon - a devil - and because it’s filled with energy - it’s also seen as a “bad god” - a bad spirit - let loose.


I was once attending a talk being given by a member of the Bruderhoff - a Protestant Community - Commune - in upstate New York. The talk was being given in a convent to some nuns and I was invited.

The father of a family was explaining what life was like in his family and in his commune. Seated near him were his wife and about 4 kids.

It was a long talk and it got boring.  Above the speaker was a ceiling fan with a metal beaded cord - with a bigger bead at the bottom - to grab to turn the fan on or off - or to put it in another cycle.

Suddenly in a split second one of his sons stood up - and whacked with one hand the bottom bead of the on off cord hanging from the ceiling fan. It went flying. It stopped the father for a moment. Everyone saw it. Everyone woke up. The boy simply sat down and continued his day dreaming. The father continued speaking. The father finished speaking. Any questions? Nobody said anything to the boy who wacked that ceiling fan cord.

I have never forgotten that scene.

I often wondered what was going on in that kid’s mind.

I’ve often wondered why we remember what we remember and forget so many other moments of life.

It has always struck me - that maybe all of us are sitting there in church - at the dinner   table - at a meeting - or in a relationship - and we want to scream - or smack some hanging cord.

It has always struck me that any of us can do something stupid - dumb in a split second - and it can ruin the rest of the evening or one’s life.


Today’s gospel also talks about non-forgiveness…..hopefully it’s not everlasting ….

Hopefully, if we do something dumb in a second, we can recover and do something smart in a second and recover.
January 23, 2017


But what about the unborn,
the unnoticed, the unheard,
the un-understood amongst us?

Mary still visits. Her voice
still reaches ears.... Children
in wombs  still leap for joy.

The lowly un’s of the planet are still
called to Magnificats. God’s mercy
is still walking about and shouting out….

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2017
Painting, "Windsock Visitation"
by Brother Mickey McGrath, OSFS

Sunday, January 22, 2017



The title of my homily for this 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time [Year A] - is, “The Mind of Jesus.”


Today’s Second Reading from 1st Corinthians talks about the mind.


NOUS is the Greek word used by Paul for one’s mind. To the Greeks and to Paul, the  mind is our center  of reflection, our consciousness, where we process what we see, perceive, understand, feel, figure out,  wonder about judge, determine, learn, remember.  It’s our headquarters. It’s us.

Our mind!

Paul finds out that the Christian Community in the Greek City of Corinth is divided. There are divisions, rivalries. People are not of the same mind. They are not on the same page.

Some are following Chloe - an influential and well known woman - head of a household and a place where Paul stays.  This is the only place we hear about this woman. Her name, Chloe, which means “Green Herb.”

Did she complain to Paul?  We don’t know. But in this first chapter of 1st Corinthians,  we find out people are claiming to be following her. Others claim to be following Paul. Others are saying they are following  Apollos. Others say they are following Cephas or Peter and  others say, “I am following Christ.”

So Paul in his letter is saying:  end the divisions and the rivalries - and be of one mind.

Then in the next chapter of 1st Corinthians,  Paul will say in 2:16,  to have the mind of Jesus.

There it is, the title of my homily, “The Mind of Jesus.”

Growth in the Christian life is listening to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Paul, Peter and James and learning the mind of Jesus.

This year we’re listening to Matthew - especially.

I would sense - that the way Christian spirituality works - is that we slowly figure out our mind - then we sense that others don’t see things the way we see things. Then we try to sense what Jesus’ mind was.

Comparing - figuring - wondering - listening - questioning - is what we human beings are doing all the time.


For starters, there we are on the beach - on the planet - fishing for whatever we’re fishing for in life.

What are we trying to catch?

In today’s first reading from Isaiah and today’s gospel from Matthew we have the same text. We all feel at times we’re in the dark - and we want light.

The mind wants to be enlightened.

I love telling the story of visiting a couple I had married a few years earlier.

I’m sitting there in their living room - chatting and their son - little Sal - is standing on one of those low lying electrical heating radiator - that go along the wall  around the room. With one hand on the window sill, his other hand is trying to grab something out of the air - something coming in through the window.

I say to his parents, “What is your son doing?”

His mom, Ann, says, ‘”What do you mean?”

I say, “Little Sal is trying to grab something coming through the window.”

“Oh,” his mom says, “He’s trying to grab the light.”

Then she added, “He does that all the time.”

Sure enough, in time he became a teacher.

He was fishing for the light.

So that’s a life question: what are we fishing for? What are we trying to grab? What is our mind trying to figure out.  What lights are we after?


Hopefully, we want to discover the mind of Jesus and then live by it.

What are our Jesus questions?

Like why did Jesus  wait till he did to begin preaching and teaching? What triggered his coming out - when he came out of Nazareth as we heard it today’s gospel. Was John’s arrest the trigger?  He went to Capernaum on the edge of the sea of Galilee.  He walked the beach and called 4 young men - Peter and Andrew [the most important apostle] - and James and John - also brothers - and all 4 dropped everything at the moment to follow Jesus.

Would we do that?

Isn’t that the Christian life - to follow Jesus - to bring into our mind, the mind of Jesus?

And the mind of Jesus gives various lights - various secrets of happiness - how to live life to the full. If we follow Jesus he’ll tell us about forgiveness, giving, loving, serving, caring for one another, dying to self so others can rise - like in parenting.

So a key way to read the gospels is to ask Jesus what does he have in mind?

Answers sacrifice, dying to self, to create family, community, and not have division.


In the meanwhile we are often divided and Christ wants communion.

We’re here - the mass of us different people - to be united on the basics.

Myself and another priest once gave a parish mission in upstate New York.

Like today’s second reading, the parish was divided.

There were different groups - angry at each other.

Some were liberal; some were conservative - some were charismatics - some made fun of the others.

The diocese put in two new priests - a big guy - whose nick name we found out was “Big Foot” - a gentle giant - a quiet guy with a great smile. The other guy was younger - thin - fast moving. I noticed he was on the local fire and rescue squad, etc. etc. etc.

They were given 5 years to work on the healing of the parish.

It happened - and the parish mission was to celebrate the healing - both priests were to be changed and move on - and please God the parish had the mind of Christ - much more than 5 years earlier.


Painting on top: The Call of Peter and Andrew by Duccio.
January 22, 2017


An ice cream cone, vanilla,
lay face down on the sidewalk….
Ants were having a dance….
Did some kid drop it on the cement?
Did she trip? Did she cry? Did she
look at her brother and sister’s cones
still in their hands - still being licked?
Were there any tears on the street
on the way to their car or home?
Cones! Ice cream. I’ve dropped
at least a dozen in my life - and as
for tears - I’ll keep those silent -
but I see them on the sidewalks of my
life more than dropped ice cream cones.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2017