Saturday, April 1, 2017

April 1, 2017

Happy April Fool's Day


Sometimes it’s smart to be a fool!

To be a kid once again -
to get down on the ground and
play a game and forget about
all the big serious stuff of life.

To pretend that we don’t know -
only to discover we actually
don’t know - and we learn
something new in the pretending.

To imitate Christ by letting it all go -
power - privacy -  time - love - only
to be laughed at - and crucified on
some bloody Bad Friday afternoon.*

Sometimes it’s smart to be a fool!

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017
* Cf. 1 Corinthians 4: 10

Friday, March 31, 2017

March 31,  2017


There are times we have to think tough,
think hard, think taking time to come up
with at least 5 possible scenarios for the
key issues in life: listening, really listening
to those we’re with, checking and then re-
checking with what they are saying. We’re
all somewhere else - than where we are.
Then there's God.  God is a long think.
Then next week, we have to double back
to this week and this same week next year.
What? What are you trying to really say here?
I'm thinking. Give me some time to really
think about some of this life stuff. Thank you.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Painting by Alex Colville [1920-2013]

Thursday, March 30, 2017

March 30, 2017


How long are good-byes?

We wonder about that - standing there
at train or bus stations - or where
people are dropped off at airports -
and then both move on - a wave
or a kiss thrown back to each other.

How long are good-byes?

Wait!  We don’t know enough of
each other’s story. We don’t know
what brought people together in the first place.
We don’t know what’s going to happen next -
so we need to talk before we say, “Good-bye!”

How long are good-byes?

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Painting on top:
Soldier and Girl at Station (1953)
Alex Colville (1920-2013


Question and Answer Prayer….

We spend much of our quiet time,
inner time, church time - boring TV time,
school time, work time, when we’re not listening to others’ time, with our questions.

What’s next? Who’s next? How come? When?

What am I doing here?

Why did I think that, feel that, choose that, say that, do that?

Why did he/she do that, choose that, say that?

Why? Why? Why?

Today, today, today, what’s going to happen today?

Research, news gathering, school, scholarship, is jam packed with questions.

And there are answers: love, values, the common good, and sometimes, "... because that’s the way we do things around here."

And the great answer often is: I don’t know.

Which leads to bigger, different, new questions.

Which leads us to re-hear old questions:

Why DID God make me? 

Why did my parents have me?

Why am I different from so and so?

What’s  my life’s work? What am I going to do about that today?

Questions and answers - which lead to not only a good prayer before eating, but why not make it a good morning prayer: “Bless us, O Lord, and these your gifts, which we are about to receive from your bounty, through Christ our Lord, Amen."

© Andy Costello, Blog Prayer # 1
Painting on top: Plein Aire in Maine
by Helen Turner (1858-1958) 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March 29, 2017


Not what's around
            the corner,
            but what's ahead
is what I want to see,
            to know about,
            to plan for.

Sorry, yes there are
             things ahead
             we'll see,
but we often forget about
             the great below,
             beneath the surface of it all. 

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Painting: Alex Colville, To Prince Edward Island.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017



The title of my homily is, “38 Years Is A Long, Long Time.”

When we first hear that the man in today’s gospel was sick for 38 years,  it can get us to pause. 38 years is a long, long time. 38 years is long time to be begging and to be crippled - finding myself inside or outside of the temple and not getting any help or healing.


Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh in their book, Social-Science Commentary on the Gospel of John, in talking about today’s gospel wrote, “Sick persons lying beside the pool would have been there, not only to see healing, but also to beg.  Such beggars were among the socially expendables, the unclean ‘throwaway’ people who frequented every preindustrial city. In this same category were prostitutes, the poorest day laborers, tanners (forced to live outside the cities because they smelled), peddlers, bandits, sailors, hustlers  (for example gamblers, usurers), ass drivers, dung collectors, and even some merchants.” [Cf. page 111.]

So the man in today’s gospel is one of the many in the temple area who would be begging - and wanting to be healed.

Did you hear today’s first reading and it’s beautiful description of the temple as an oasis, a place of healing, with flowing water, lots of flowing water as well as various fruit trees. When Mitzi was doing our first reading this morning I could hear the water flowing. I can picture the beautiful fruit trees lined up along the marble alcoves and steps. [Cf. Ezechiel 47: 1-9, 12.]

So too as I hear about this man in today’s gospel, who was sick for 38 years, I can picture the scene. [Cf. John 5: 1-16.]


My first reaction is this: 38 years is too long to be sick and crippled.

Reading Malina and Rohrbaugh,  I said to myself, "In Annapolis and in this church and in our lives - there are are all sorts of people. We might not have any tanners - we might not have any people who think their lives stink. But we certainly have people who have hurts sitting there with them, on their back, in their mind, all through the years."

For 38 years?  Some.

And then we notice them from time to time. A gospel like today’s gospel can trigger personal realities - our inner stuff. They show up on the doorstep of their memory - from time to time.

And we all have memories - long term memories. And as you know, our long term memory brings us our best and worst stories.

A personal question: Does anyone here today in this temple have a hurt that is at least 38 years of age?

Examples: a guy was dating this wonderful woman.  Surprise, out of the blue, she tells him, "That’s it." It wipes him out. Then he walks with that hurt for the next 38 years.

Example: someone in the family says something taken as a nasty. Then someone holds onto that hurtful comment for the next 38 years.

Example someone makes a mistake. They steal something. They get caught. The family  name is in the paper. Then they have that on the front page of their mind for the next 38 years.

Example: someone has an operation on their ankle and the doctor makes a mistake. As a result, they have to walk around with a limp for the next 38 years of their life.


Today’s gospel has a great question:

Jesus asks us  “Do you want to get well?”

Today we can answer: "Yes!"  But who and how can we be healed?

Answer: Jesus - it’s not the Sabbath but he can do it today - this Tuesday morning.  Jesus can wash us clean with his cleansing water as we heard in today’s gospel.

Picture that.

O  O  O  O  O  O  O  O  O  O

Painting on top: Paul Aeretsen, The Healing of the Cripple at Bethesda
March 28, 2017


Sheets smell that much neater -
if they have been hung out to dry -
in the backyard - in the sun - being
caressed by a sweet breeze.

Souls smell that much neater -
when we take the time to just hang
out - in the backyard - in the sun - being
caressed by the breeze - the Spirit.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017
Painting by Alex Colville

Monday, March 27, 2017

March 27, 2017


Songs - Rorschach echoes -
that emerge up out of our soul -
telling us - when we're singing
in the car or the shower -
what’s going on within our being.
Test: what’s # 1 on our hit parade?
Test: what’s # 1 on our hurt parade?
Test: what are we trying to sing
and what are we trying to blot out?

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017
Painting: Alex Colville, FĂȘte champĂȘtre. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017



The title of my homily is, “What Do You See?”


Today’s readings for this 4th Sunday in Lent - are all about seeing.

The first reading is all about the choice of David and the anointing of David as the future leader of Israel.

Seven of Jesse’s sons are presented to him - and Samuel seeing them says, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is here before me.”

And the Lord says, “Do not judge by appearance.”

Then the Lord adds, “Not as man does God see, because man sees the appearance - but the Lord looks into the heart.”

Then Samuel asks Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

I always wonder how the seven brothers felt when they heard that.

I say that because one of life’s biggest learnings is that the youngest in every family is always the best. The parents finally got it right.  Are there any only child here?

And Jesse says, “There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.”

And Samuel says, “Send for him. We don’t begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.”

So Jesse sent for his youngest son and when Samuel sees him - the best looking of the sons - which to me is sort of contradictory - after we had heard about not judging by appearance, Samuel says, “There - anoint him, for this is the one.”

“Then Samuel with the horn of oil in hand, anointed David in the presence of his brothers; and from that day on, the spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.”

Great scene - perfect for movies - and plays.

The second reading from Ephesians begins with the words, “You were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light….”

These are great baptismal texts.

Being a Christian is all about seeing the Light - and being the Light of the world - and not spending our lives living in the dark.

Today’s gospel - today’s long gospel - is all about the Blind Man.

We are called to see - and no longer be blind.

We are called to let Christ be the Light of our World. We are called to let Christ touch our eyes - so that we can see better.

The title of my homily is, “What Do You See?”


Last night when I was working on this homily I remembered a Charlie Brown cartoon from way, way back.  Using Google I found it.

It’s a cartoon that has always got me thinking about what I see and that people see differently - something I often forget.

Being self-centered - I often assume everyone sees the way I see.

You’re kidding.  Nope.

Well, the Charlie Brown cartoon goes like this. Lucy, Linus and Charlie Brown are laying on the grass on a hill looking up into the sky.

Lucy says, “Aren’t the clouds beautiful. They look like big balls of cotton. I can just lie here all day and watch them drift by. If you use your imagination you can see lots of things in the cloud formations.”

Then Lucy says, “What do you see up there Linus?”

And Linus answers, “Well those clouds up there look like the map of British Honduras on the Caribbean.

“That cloud up there looks a little bit like the profile of Thomas Eakins the Painter and the Sculptor.

“And that group of clouds up there look like the stoning of Stephen. I can see the apostle Paul standing there off to one side.”

And Lucy says, “Uh huh. That’s very good.”

Then Lucy asks, “What do you see in the clouds Charlie Brown?”

And Charlie answers, “Well I was going to say I saw a ducky and a horsy but I changed my mind.”

For some reason that cartoon has taught me one of life’s great lessons: We all don’t see the same.”

The title of my homily is, “What Do You See?


Christianity is all about how we see, what we see, and seeing better.

Lent is all about seeing better on Easter Sunday morning than how we saw on Ash Wednesday.

This morning I went over to our religious education program - to see some kids in our Special Needs class.

It’s always wonderful to walk through St. Mary’s or here at St. John Neumann and see all the things that are going on: whether it’s a Spanish Mass or Baptisms, a soup supper, kids playing lacrosse, people making Ranger Rosaries, a Bible Study Group, a Woman’s Spirituality meeting, kids running in the parking lot, 2 weddings yesterday, and all the Masses, stations of the cross, kids selling mulch or adults pushing tootsie rolls.

Today I got the thought that every kid is a special needs kid.

Do I see kids - do I see adults - do I see the person on the edge of the crowd -  as a special needs person?

Or am I too self-centered that I only see myself - and my special needs?

Am I like the Pharisees in today’s Gospel who are so wrapped up in their understanding of religion - that they can’t celebrate a blind man healed and now he sees.

Do I see and hear today’s gospel - today’s long gospel - that’s it’s all about me being blind and me learning to see?

Do I see and hear today’s second reading - that church is all about coming into a well-lighted place - so that I can walk out of this place - and see better for the rest of this week?

Do I see and hear today’s first reading - that I was once anointed with oil - in my baptism - that I am anointed and appointed - by the Lord to make a difference - our theme for this year - in the places I am this year.


When I get that - when I come out of that cloud - hopefully I feel what David felt for the rest of his life: the rush of the spirit - well not always - but hopefully a lot, please God. Amen.


Painting on top: by Alex Colville
March 26, 2017


Feel them - look at them -
describe them - where they itch.
At some point give them a name.

Then ask the other questions?
Why now? Have I had this one
before? Am I blaming someone?

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017
Painting: by Alex Colville