Saturday, July 15, 2017

July 15, 2917


I was just getting into my third sentence
when I was cut off. Another took over
the conversation. Another began telling
a memory - which my memory must have
triggered. Whenever this happens - and
it’s been happening more lately,  I’m hurt.
I’m  cut - cut off. Is it me? Am I becoming
more and more boring? Am I losing it -
dying before I want to die? Sometimes
when this happens too much, I want to
jump into a hole and pour dirt on me.
But I don’t. I hope it’s teaching me to
listen and notice when I cut off others.
Does this ever happen to you? 

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Friday, July 14, 2017


July 14, 2017


Now that’s an ongoing motive:
to catch up with something
that we had  - but it got away.
It’s like turning a door knob -
only to find out the door is
locked or scratching one’s head
just above one’s ear - when trying
to recapture a memory about
something that had happened
or something someone said -
or a million dollar idea - but we
forgot what it was completely.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Thursday, July 13, 2017

July 13, 2017


Wake up….
Look up ….
Show up ….
Discover and articulate ….
Picture, paint, frame ….
Paper, pen, write, mail ….
Rethink, reconsider, rewrite ….
What’s your main message?
About what?
About what you’ve seen ….
About what you have heard ….
About what you've experienced ....
About what your learned about life ….
Of course ….

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017


Wednesday, July 12, 2017





The title of my homily for this 14th Wednesday in Ordinary Time is, “If My Life Was A Novel….”

If my life was a novel, what would be its title.

I think of that idea when I hear the Book of Genesis read. We are listening to it at these weekday Masses.

It has plots, sub-plots, twists, turns, and wonderings, “What’s next?”

Well grab a seat and start turning the pages.

It has characters - men, women and children.

It has surprises.  It has murders.  It has marriages. It has family - wow does it have family.


One of the great  gifts of old age - not everyone makes it - is reminiscing. It’s looking at the stories of how we got to where we got to - and who have been the people in the pages and stories of our life.

Hopefully everyone has a porch or a place equivalent to a porch - where we can ask each other about who the other persons are and were in our family tree.

Hopefully, we all have collectors of the stories. Who in our family or families knows the story?

Hopefully we listen. Hopefully, we ask an old aunt or uncle, “Uncle Jake, you’re being quiet. How did you get from Vermont  to Maryland? Did you know your grandparents?

A Jewish family the middle of Tennessee were asked, “Why in the world did you settle here in this little town ?” Answer: the horse died.


I suggest using writing pads that have the wire spring down the left side of the notebook - and write a name or place or possible idea on top of the page and then ask Uncle Jake or Aunt Sarah, “What’s going on with you now?”

The stories are out there. The stories are in here.

By writing down what you’re hearing, you have leads to the past and to the future.

Ask questions

Ask about our faith. It can be lost.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could find out who started faith in our family 5 generations back.


How did the Israelites get to Egypt?

Well, to be honest, some brothers didn’t like one brother and they sold him out.

How did the Israelites get to Egypt?

Well, truth be told, they ran out of bread?

How did the Israelites get established in Egypt?

Well, the brother who was sold out, forgave his brothers and first he cried.

Read the story - right there in Genesis.


When we get to it, read what happened next - especially the Exit or Exodus.

My life. It’s novel. It’s a page turner.


July 12, 2017

100, 1,000, 10,000 people
have sat in this chair - on
this plane, train, bus, church,
restaurant or park bench.

Sometimes we notice  each other,
with a smile, holding the door,
an eye touch or even a hand shake.
Please be seated. Hi. Hello. Oh ….

Who are you? Where have you been?
Where are you headed? Tell me
something about yourself before
we stand up and get on our own way?

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017



The title of my homily is, “Israel: Wrestling with God.”

As far as I could pick up in reading about the name “Israel”,  it means, “Wrestling With God.”  Not all agree on that, but Jewish theology is richer when the word “Israel” is translated into “Wresting With God.”

In today’s first reading from Genesis, Jacob - has a name change. He now becomes Israel. He had wrestled with his brother Esau coming out the womb holding his older brothers heel. The name goes well with the story of his life - how he wrestled with various people and situations - and how in today’s reading - he wrestles with someone all night long till the break of dawn. And his hip is knocked out of place - and it seems for the rest of his life Jacob had a pronounced limp.


Wrestling can at times be another word for life.

People are sometimes described, “She’s wrestling with something.”  “He’s wrestling with something. 

Using today’s gospel, we could say, “Sometimes we have to wrestle with our demons.”

I’ve been at many AA meetings - and listened to lots of  “drunkalogues” - a person telling their life story - and many of the stories mention demons. Wasn’t rum labeled “demon rum”?

I’ve also visited folks at Shepherd Pratt - St. Elizabeth’s in Washington D.C. and many other Mental Health Centers. Often in listening to people, I hear about what they are wrestling with,  struggling with, and what have you.  

When we were kids, we often watched wrestling on TV - especially when our uncle Cole was living with us. He thought wrestling was real and baseball was fixed.  He could be a curmudgeon. Yet wrestling is real. Did you ever live or work with someone, who is always into causing mismatches and mishmash?

If we look at our life as a wrestling match, we could ask, “What has been our main enemy?” “What has been the main event?” “Who have been our toughest opponents?” 

Big families offer bigger opportunities for kids to grow. Today’s smaller families provide less opportunities for emotional growth.

One bathroom is a house has its opportunities for patience as well.

Big families also provide the challenge of comparison problems - sibling rivalries - as well as hearing the words, “Not fair” a lot more than when we are   alone.

So the home can be a wrestling ring - so too the playing field - so too the workplace - so too the classroom. Everyone can’t be the smartest kid in the class.  Not everyone can  get the quarterback position. Not everyone can be the lead in the play.  Teachers sometimes have pets - and it isn’t me.

As Chief Justice Roberts said in a commencement address at his son’s graduation from elementary private school recently, “Every kid has to learn that life is not fair.”


Prayer is a conversation and a communication with our God. It can also be a wrestling match from time to time.

Prayer - with God - speaking and listening -  is the stuff of every  relationship - and wrestling is part of every relationship.

Read the Psalms.  They  are often about complaints with God.

We think, “My will be done!” more than we pray, “Thy will be done!”


Israel was a new edition of Jacob.

His mother tricked Esau - Jacob’s twin brother - out of his legal rights.

And that wrestling match has been going on ever since in and with Israel.

The names are different - that’s all. 


July 11, 2017


Sometimes communication happens; 
sometimes it doesn't.

Sometimes we don’t look the other in 
the eye because we don’t see eye to eye.

Sometimes the solution is simple, but 
we simply don’t want the problem solved.

Sometimes we have given up on
another, so why give in to another?

Sometimes I don’t listen because it seems
you don’t want to  listen either. Do you?

Sometimes we have to get a flat tire 
to realize we’re going around in circles.

Sometimes what seems to be, 
actually is what it is.

Sometimes there’s a right time and
sometimes there is a wrong time to talk.

And sometimes these are simply excuses not
to communicate and sometimes we connect.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Monday, July 10, 2017



The title of my homily for this 14th Monday in Ordinary Time is, “Rocks and Relics - Remains and Reminders.”

Today’s two readings trigger thoughts about rocks and relics - and those two words triggered thoughts of two other “R” words: remains and reminders.


There’s something about stones that gets us to hold onto them.

Here’s Jacob going to a shrine - near Haran. The world, the Middle East, is filled with shrines.  They are sacred places. They are stairways to heaven.

I grew up hearing that in Brooklyn there is either a bar or a church on every corner. That’s an exaggeration. Bars yes. Churches no.

In today’s Bible story from Genesis 28: 10 to 22a, Jacob does something everyone does: he picked up a specific stone - because he was in a special place. It was a shrine. It was that stone he laid his head on for the night. With his head on that rock he had his famous stairway or ladder dream. In that dream he meets God, the God of Abraham and Isaac. He is told that this land will be your land - and you’ll have many descendants here.

Question: check your house, your shelves, your keepsakes, your boxes,  for rocks from places you’ve visited.

Here are two rocks. 

This one is from Galway, Ireland from where my mom and dad are from.  Ireland has lots and lots of rocks. They could make a fortune by selling them. Rocks last. They are not plastic or cloth or paper. 

And here’s another rock. It’s from the Sea of Galilea - which I picked up and pocketed in January of 2000 - and I wrote where it is from with a thin pointed pen.

When we visit a place that impresses us - impacts us - we like to hold onto the place - with something from the place, a souvenir, a rock, a relic, a matchbook…. Isn’t that why people take pictures, zillions and zillions of pictures - besides sending the picture with an e-mail or Facebook to others - to share their sacred - their special - place and experience with family and friends. Cheaper than postcards - but postcards are nice as well.

In today’s first reading Jacob takes the stone he slept on - poured some oil on it - and set it up as a memorial stone. He called the place, “Bethel.”

Beth - is the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet - meaning house - and that’s its shape b - is like a single family house. Capital B is like a two story house.  We know the word “Beth” from the place listed as where Jesus was born: Bethlehem.  “Lehem” is the word for bread - or more: food. So Bethlehem is the House of Bread - House of Food - home. Home is where we eat and sleep and rest.

So Bethel - means “house of El”  Once more Beth means.  “El” is the word for God.  That’s the Semitic and then Arabic and Middle East name for God. El, Al, Allah, as found in the names Rachel, Nathaniel, Michael, Daniel, Noel, Angel.

So that’s a few words about rocks and sacred places - so rocks can be sacred and special.

Let me jump now to  today’s gospel and deal with the second word in my homily title. I used the word “relic.”

Well this lady in today’s gospel is suffering from hemorrhages for 12 years. She reaches out to touch the tassel of Jesus’ cloak.  She said to herself, “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be healed.”

What ever happened to Jesus’ cloak?

How many did he have - if had more than one.  He stressed having very little. What ever happened to his robe - the one gambled for at Calvary.

Is the Shroud of Turin Jesus’ burial cloth?

If it is, how much is it worth?

If you go into historical museums, you find clothes from famous people.

Marilyn Monroe’s dress which she wore when she sang “Happy Birthday Mr. President - to John F. Kennedy in May of 1962 - sold for $1.25 million at a Christie’s auction in 1999 and for $4.8 million on November 19, 2016.

Would we touch it - if we could touch it - with a sense of awe?

How about the woman’s thought as she touched Jesus’ garment and she was cured?  

I have two jackets that my brother wore - and my sister in law gave them to me after my brother died. When I wear either of them in  my nieces sight - they are amazing reminders of my brother. And we looked somewhat alike - the poor fellow.

People who have lost a spouse or a parent or a child - keep - keepsakes for the sake of the person who is gone.


Enough already.  I just wanted to skip these thoughts - like a kid skipping stones on a lake.

Remember the temptation Jesus had in the desert - in beginning of his ministry -  to change rocks into bread to feed the hungry. And Jesus says “No!”  And at the end he takes bread and tells us to take and eat - this is my body, this is my blood - do this in memory of me.

And wonderfully the bread dissolves - becomes us - as we digest Jesus - and we become forever in Christ.

Not as rocks - but as fleshy, sentimental, tear stained human beings.
July 10, 2017


Let’s talk clarity ….
Let’s talk charity ….
Let’s talk transparency ….
Let’s talk calmly ….
Let’s talk questions to each other ….
Let’s talk listening as a follow up ….
Let’s talk honesty ….
Let’s talk appreciation ….
Let’s talk looking eye to eye ….
Let’s take a walk ….
Let’s have the courage to ….
Let’s talk with respect ….
Let’s talk with forgiveness ….
Let’s talk more than once ….
Let’s remember the good times ….
Let’s let go of the bad times ….
Let’s allow for mistakes ….
Let’s pick up trends ….
Let's not forget the compliments ....
Let’s name the expectations ….
Let's use adjectives before the word expectations, "fair," "unfair," "unknown," "non-balanced", "first time I heard that one ...."
Let's say, "How about a time-out to ...?"
Let's ask, "Is this for always or just for now?"
Let’s name regressions and progress ….
Let’s learn to be able to say, “Not fair….”
Let’s learn to say, “Wait a minute ….”
Let’s be able to say, “It all depends …."
Let’s ask, “Is this what you’re saying ….”
Let’s make the time and take the time to ….
Let's say, "By the way we're different ...."
Let's say, "By the way, I've changed ...."
Let's be nice ....

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Sunday, July 9, 2017



The title of my homily for this 14 Sunday in Ordinary Time [A] is, “Christ on a Bicycle.”

I read today’s readings a few times - and wondered what was being said - where the readings were going - and where they would take me.

The first reading mentions a future king coming - wondering - what he would be like - and Zachariah pictures him not arriving with arrows, weapons, not with a fleet of well-armed chariots - but he would be coming on an ass - a donkey. Surprise! The unexpected. Great optics. [Cf. Zechariah 9: 9-10.]

Comment: Jesus tried that trip into town on a donkey and look where that took  him - 5 days later - to a cross on a hill called, “Calvary”?

And the second reading talks about the choice of living by the spirit or living by the flesh. Which one, which way of doing life, is more me? [Cf. Romans  8: 9, 11-13.]

And the gospel talks about the hidden wisdom of God, It seems we only get - or grasp - that wisdom -  when we get small. So the message is: come to that God - especially when we feel overburdened - when we feel like a field animal - pulling a heavyweight plow. Our God is not like that. Our God sent his Son to tell us what God the Father is like.  Our God is meek and humble of heart. Our God gives us rest. Our God is not a heavy burden. That’s how Jesus - God’s Son - reveals him. [Cf. Matthew 11: 25-30.]

So let me try to say all that in this homily.

So the title of my homily is, “Christ on a Bicycle.”


Jesus - up there in heaven - sees God our Father - just lounging there - in an aluminum legged lounge chair - no throne - just resting  - just looking out at all creation. And surprise - nobody else is there at that moment. God  is all alone. The 144,000 and the millions and billions more must be down some gold paved street  - at some big wedding banquet. [Cf. Revelation 14:3.]

So God the Son, Jesus,  goes outside and sits down on the ground - on this great green meadow - and starts talking to God his Father.

“Father, I’ve been thinking, Let me go back to earth and try it again.”



God, Our Father, can do that big time, when we come to Him with our plans.

Then God the Father says, “You know what happened the last time?”

“Yeah,” says Jesus.


“But, this time, it’s going to be different.  This time I want to try it on a bicycle. I often wondered what they are  like.”

“Okay,” says God the Father. “But do me a favor. Take 40 days before you go back to earth. Picture all the possible scenario’s you’ll find yourself in. Then if you decide to try it again - this time on a bicycle - don’t come crying to me when it doesn’t work. Don’t scream out again, ‘Why have you forsaken me?’ - when they don’t understand what they are doing.”

“Good,” said Jesus. “Thank you!”

“By the way,” God the Father asked, as Jesus was leaving to take his 40 day retreat, “Where are you thinking of going this time?”

And Jesus said, “I was thinking of going to a mid to small sized place in Maryland - called Annapolis.”

“Think about it,” said God the Father, “but what about Minneapolis or Indianapolis, Moscow or Nairobi, Ashtabula or Arnold, or Paris for that matter?”

“Okay,” says Jesus. “I'll  think about different scenarios and where to go and I’ll get back to you in 40 days.”


It's 40 days later and Jesus spots his Father - out there on his favorite aluminum legged - lawn lounge chair. 

“Father,” says the Son, “I'm going. I decided to go to Annapolis."


The next day - after Jesus left - he's back home to his Father.

"That was quick," the Father said.

The Son said, "Well, it didn't work out quite like I expected."

“I began by riding my bike down this red brick bumpy street - Main Street. People started yelling out, ‘Hey!’ - I can’t use all the words they used - but they told me,  ‘You’re going down the wrong way on one way street. Get off that stupid looking bicycle - and start looking where you are. Don’t you know bicycles are dangerous in town?’”

“'Uh, oh!'  I said. So  I stopped and walked my bike down to a place they called, ‘Ego Alley.’  I thought that would be the perfect place to start."

“I sat there on a red brick small wall.” 

“Everything was red brick in this place. I didn’t get that.” 

"A couple of people stopped to see who I was. So I began by saying, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit - because if you are poor in spirit, you’ll find yourself living in the kingdom of heaven.’”

“At that I heard someone behind the people I was talking to say, ‘Who’s that over there?’

“I heard someone reply, ‘I don’t know. He looks like some religious nut - with a bicycle and a back pack.’”

"I continued, 'Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.'”

"At that I heard someone say, 'There’s some statues over there. Let’s get our picture taken with that guy and kids in bronze.'”

“A few more people came along and said, ‘Hey stranger. What are you doing here? What are you trying to say?’"

"So I said to them,  'Let me tell you a story. A man had two sons.'”

"And someone said, 'Heard that one before.'”

“Okay, how about this one? ‘A rich man had a poor man living just outside his front door. Inside his house he had the finest food in the world. And the poor man outside had nothing to eat but scraps of pizza - and the ducks in the water at the dock here had more to eat that this poor man.’”

"And someone said, 'Heard that one too - but in a different variation - good try - good-bye.'”

Jesus continued telling his Father what happened. He said, "I just sat there, crying, dying for someone to come along and at least ask me what God my Father was like. But nobody asked."

Then Jesus added, "But someone did ask me, 'Hey stranger with the bike, do you know where Storm Brother’s Ice Cream is? I heard it’s the best ice cream in town.'”

"Time ticked on."

"So I just sat there quietly - crying - dying - hungry and thirsty."

Then Jesus told his Father. "I sat there for about 3 hours.  People came up to me from time to time and asked me who I was - where I was from - and what I was doing in Annapolis?"

“So I told them. I’m Jesus. I’m from God Our Father.”

"Most smiled and walked on - when they heard that."

"Near the end of my 3 hours there, I began to say to folks, 'See that steeple up there. That’s a church - St. Mary’s Church, Annapolis, Maryland. Walk up there and see if they are doing a better job than me - down here - trying to explain who God Our Father is and what God is all about."

"Then," Jesus said to his Father,  "I got on my bike and headed up Main Street. Someone - near the light outside Chick and Ruth’s restaurant tried to beat the light and I was in his way. He just  hit and killed me - plowing right over me. I guess he just didn't like bicycle riders - but I forgave him before I died."



And Jesus then said to his Father.

“You're right. It won’t work.”

“What won’t work?”

“Doing what I did the first time. It didn’t work then either. Yet what I started is still going on and working down there - here and there - all around the world ….”

"And besides that," Jesus smiled and said to his Father,  “People wearing a tiny, broken, damaged,  a person on a  bicycle piece of jewelry around their neck, in memory of my visit and my death won’t work. A cross is certainly better.”

At that God the Father smiled.

And Jesus continued, “The cross has so many more possibilities: I want my life to go this way and it always goes another way - that’s the cross -  as I just discovered  again - on a red brick wall and a red brick street in a place called, Annapolis, Maryland.” 

July 9, 2017


If I opened a door
and God was sitting in a chair
in this room, what would happen next?

Words, silence, nervousness?

Could a room
contain God? 
Could I?

Words, silence, nervousness?

If God opened my door
and I was sitting in this room praying, 
crying, what would happen next?

Words, silence, the embrace?

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017