Saturday, July 22, 2017


We know how cats claim their spots.
We humans are much more subtle.

We shrug shoulders - raise our nose -
lower our eyes - give a look - tweak
our upper lip - to let another know:
“Move it. Get out of my territory.”

Jesus let others touch his tassels. He
put his finger in their ears - his spit on
their eyes and tongue. His bread and wine,
his body and blood, entered their bodies.

We know how fat cats claim their spots.       
We humans have to be much more humble.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017
Cf. Mark 7:23; Mark 8:23;
Mark 6: 56; Mark 14: 22-25. 

July 22, 2017

Mary Magdalene's sin
cast such a long shadow -
that Jesus could not but
step onto her path.

Happy feast 
of St. Mary Magdalene.

Friday, July 21, 2017

July 21, 2017


She was 55 when she figured out
what she was about in life. It was
to counterbalance conversations
and friendships and classrooms
and family and both her marriages.
The first one didn’t work. Sorry.

"If" was the center of the seesaw.
If you said so and so was a loser,
she would counter with a comment
about her strengths. If you were
needing money, out came her wallet.
If you were lost, she would find you.

If you don’t know what to do with
your life - think about being a
counterbalance - offsetting - what is
wrong with what is right - being
present when love is absent - being
an ear when nobody is listening.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Thursday, July 20, 2017

WAR  OF  1812! 




  A  WAR? 

July 20, 2017


“Thank you”:
two short words
that try to sum up -
but they really can't -
the wide width,
the high height,
the deep depth,
of the feelings of gratitude
and generosity
that grow and groan -
and sometimes emerge up
and out of the human heart,
but like Christ
in the garden,
Christ on the Cross,
Christ in the Bread,
if we’re open today,
he’ll bring us communion,
Holy Communion
with each other -
this day and any day we choose.


© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Wednesday, July 19, 2017



Watch all three
of these short videos
and then
go out
and buy yourself
a drum....

July 19, 2017


Jesus sort of said that while nailed to a
cross. Dried blood on his head - dried
armpits. It was his last day on earth.
“I’m finished!”

Listening to myself and others in our
late 70’s, we too sometimes say we’re
tempted to scream those same sentiments:
“I’m finished!”

But resurrection and unfinished business
pushes us to want those nails removed, so we
can come down from that cross as we scream,
“I’m still not finished.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017






The title of my homily for this 15th Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, Genesis and Exodus.

For the 1st Reading of these weekday Masses, we just finished three weeks of readings from Genesis and now we have two and a half weeks from  Exodus. 

As I have said a few times, in the last few years, for weekday homilies, I’m more interested in the first reading than the gospel. I’ve been doing the gospel at Mass for the first 40 or so years as priest - and the first reading screams out, “What am I chopped liver?”

And for folks who come to daily Mass,  I would assume that you would want to know more about the first reading - because you’ve been hearing the gospel for 40 or so years as well.

So the title of my thoughts for today is, “Genesis and Exodus.”


It seems to me that most of Genesis and the first 20 chapters of Exodus - have the grab - have the interesting stuff.

Once we get to chapter 20 of Exodus and the receiving of the Covenant, the Ten Commandments - then the Bible can get tough. It’s then we get into the Law. It’s then we hear long lists of rules and regulations, etc. etc. etc. Then when we move further into the Pentateuch - that is, the first 5 books of the Bible - most people get lost - scratch their head or yawn.

So Genesis and Exodus are the important books - and Exodus really only up to Chapter 20.

Hope that explains my rationale for today’s homily title and what I’m doing up here in the pulpit.


I once went to 3 day workshop by Tom Berry - entitled “A New Creation Account.” He spent much of his life putting that new account together.

He took 3 days -  a whole weekend - for him to give us his rendition of the creation account.

It was much longer than the first two creation accounts - as found in Genesis. Obviously, we know a lot more today than people knew about creation in Biblical times.

During that workshop, that recital, of A New Creation Account, Father Tom Berry, a Passionist priest said Judaism and then Christianity had a decision to make.  Which do we stress more: creation or redemption, Genesis or the Exit, the Exodus?

There are Redemption and Sin situations in Genesis, but he was talking in broad strokes.  Genesis stresses creation; Exodus stresses Redemption.

And since I was a Redemptorist, Tom Berry said, “We have 2 Redemptorists here - and that choice to stress redemption has affected their whole lives as preachers.”

As far as I know there were no religious orders that stressed creation over redemption.  The only theologian that stressed creation first would be Matthew Fox and Teilhard de Chardin - in a way.


Let me explain what I’m trying to say as follows.

Genesis sets the stage - gives us the whole world and all the players on the stage. 

If we’re at a play, we see the curtain open and we see on stage where the play is going to take place.

Then as the play goes on, a problem happens. Someone is stuck.

Exodus deals with the problems.

In Exodus, the big problem as we heard in yesterday and today’s first reading from Exodus, is the Hebrews have fallen out of favor.

The Egyptians are the bad guys. They enslave the Israelites. They want all the sons thrown in the river.

We know the plot. We’ve seen it in a thousand movies and TV programs.

We know the solution: a hero is needed to save the people.

In the Jewish Bible,  that hero is going to be Moses.

In the Christian scriptures, that hero is Christ the New Moses.

We heard the first sound out of Moses mouth in today’s first reading, “the baby cries.”

We saw the first action from Moses hand in today’s first reading, Moses kills the Egyptian who is hitting the Hebrew.

There are the two jobs of a prophet: they scream and they save.

I suspect - but I’m biased - that’s where the action is - redemption.

Help! Save me! Redeem me.

It’s when we need to be saved, or to save another, that is key. Flowers are nice, but when we see someone who needs help and we help and save another, we’re not going to stop to smell the flowers.

Now that dynamic happens in Genesis - in smaller ways, but it’s here in Exodus when the need for redemption happens big time.

Jesus saw both - but salvation happens big time with Christ.

Jesus told us to spot the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, but we can relate more  to stories about 2 sisters - one of whom is complaining because her sister is sticking her with all the work. A father has 2 sons, one leaves home - hits bottom, messes up - but comes home for redemption. He’s forgiven, saved, redeemed. Then we hear about  the older brother who won’t forgive his brother who has returned. He is mad that his father forgave his brother. Who’s in need of redemption now?

in the gospels, we hear about bread and fish, mountains and the Lake of Galilee, but the real stories happen when we hear that Judas betrays Jesus. Peter denies Jesus. Sheep and coin people get lost. People want to throw rocks at a woman who got caught committing adultery.

There it is the same plot as in Exodus.

In Exodus is people are in trouble. Moses gets them to escape. Then they complain as they make their exodus down the road to safety. Then there is a whole series of complaints in the desert - and it takes them 40 years to get out of there to safety.


So it’s nice to have a nice house and a nice garden, to be creative like God - but where we spend lots of energy with God is with family problems - and world issues.

People come to St. Mary’s and say, “How beautiful this Gothic Church is - but they really come to St. Mary’s or any church when their spouse has cancer or their daughter is having a tough pregnancy - or when a grandson is on drugs and they need an exodus, an exit, out of their addiction.

July 18, 2017


Want to pray for something?
Pray for compassion. See
all those crosses on walls
and around necks? Good!
Now, more importantly, see
all those people carrying
their cross on their way
to their Calvary. Be with
them and let them be with
you as we all move, fall,
move, fall, move, fall and
then die with each other -
then rise with each other,
please God,  Amen!

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Monday, July 17, 2017



The title of my homily for this 15th Monday in Ordinary Time is, “A New King … Came To Power.”

I love the opening sentence in today’s first reading, “A new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt.” [Exodus 1:8]

I have read the Koran 2 times and it doesn’t have too many sentences like the truth told in today’s first reading from the Book of Exodus.

I’m not going to argue with Muslims over the Koran vs. the Bible.

Yet, underneath everything, I see here the beauty of the Judeo-Christian tradition - because it often connects us with real life situations - many, many times.

But that doesn’t mean that some Bible texts are not head scratchers - with obtuse words and ideas that mean nothing to us. I’m always looking for words and images that connect us with everyday reality.


The title of my homily is, “A New King … Came To Power.”

A new pastor comes to the parish…. a new pope …. a new parent …. a new boss …. a new boy friend…. a new girl friend …. a new neighbor ….

These are experiences we all know about…..

We know about situations like these: someone builds up a reputation …. someone builds up their kingdom …. someone is king of the hill …. someone is queen of the coffee break …. someone has a great reputation in a given situation - but surprise - everything changes with a new mayor, president, boss, whoever.
People die. People retire. People divorce. People move. People get better offers. People are fired.  As a result we get new people in charge - like the new king of pharaoh coming to power in Egypt.


Here in the Book of Exodus, Joseph is no longer remembered. The Israelites are no longer the chosen people - among the Egyptians.

In fact, they become the disposable people.

It’s a new time - it’s a new story - it’s time for a new beginning - and sometimes when this happens - things become difficult for incumbents or people who had it good for a while.  


Okay, that’s clear - things changing when there is a new boss.

But what to say next, not that clear - other than knowing one has to readjust.

A priest -the boss in my second assignment, Father Joe McManus,  taught me when you get to a new place, a new assignment, keep your mouth shut for 365 days at least.

It took me years in one assignment to get what I wanted. Then I got put in another retreat house. Ugh, I was back to a similar situation I was in 7  years earlier. I didn’t want to go backwards - but I did and followed Joe McManus’ rule -  wait a year.

I’ve seen 3 pastors now at St. Mary's: Denis Sweeney, Jack Kingsbury and John Tizio.  Each has been different from each other.

I heard someone describing what a new bishop in another diocese is going through right now: obstructionism…..

I read that some folks in Rome are not too happy with the pastoral attitudes of Pope Francis.

I often hear about how kids have struggles after a divorce and a re-marrriage - and kids have to deal with a step-mom or dad.


I don’t know what the solution is.

Maybe the solution is the wait and see principle.

Maybe the solution is to simply say, “We’ll we’re in a new book: My Exodus.”

Maybe there is a promised land - out there.

However, I love the description of the Promise of a land of Milk and Honey. I didn’t see too many cows and bees in Israel.

July 17, 2017


Tree and plant roots wouldn’t
win a beauty contest - but without
them we cannot grow. We cannot
have a tomorrow. They crawl and
creep - through deep dark dirt -
out of sight - silent, slow, relentless -
but there we are - here we are -  family -
now  after 100  -  200  years.  We have
made it - knowing we have ancestors, roots,
buried - below ground - in deep dark graves.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Sunday, July 16, 2017



The title of my homily for this 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]  is, “Movies That Move Us.”

This is a very easy homily. It will be about something I not only  enjoy - but something I understand: movies. I say that even though I don’t go out to too many movies anymore - which is one more signal of old age. I see most movies on TV - especially  Turner Classics - old black and white movies - as well as “shoot-em-ups” like The Bourne Movies

How about you?  What have been the movies that moved you?

In this homily I’m going to ask you to look at movies that moved you - movies that grabbed you - movies that have influenced your life.


Today’s gospel features Jesus’ use of parables - comparing them to seeds - that enter into the soil of another person - and some parables grow on and in us. 

Some parables evoke groans and challenges in our gut - like the groans and challenges in today’s second reading from Romans.

Today’s gospel - as well as today’s first reading Isaiah 55 - present the theme of growth - consequences - returns - what impacts us - what moves us - producing - results.

Today’s gospel is basic communication for dummies. There are 4 kinds of people - 4 kinds of listeners - 4 kinds of audiences.

The first is the dead head, the macadam mind. The seed, the word,  lands on them, but nothing happens. They are like the seed that lands on the path. Nothing happens - except the birds gobble up that word.

The second is shallow persons. They are the rocky soil - no depth, no soil, no soul, nothing really grows or goes anywhere.

The third type is the person with depth, but there are too many other things growing and going on - in their mind - in their lives. The word gets choked.

And the fourth and last type are those with good soil - and depth - and they are willing and open for growth.


The title of my homily is, Movies That Move Us.

Movies are like parables - stories - novels - that influence our way of seeing, thinking and being.

There are four  types of people who see movies - just like the ones I just mentioned for parables as Jesus taught us.

Let me use - let me mention - let me run through 5 movies and then say, “Conclusion.”

As I’m going along, I challenge you to come up with your 5 movies - movies that moved you - that had a lesson - for life.

You don’t have to list them in cement - like I don’t include Casablanca or My Cousin Vinny - but I might think differently the next time I think about this theme.


The first movie would be Forest Gump.

I was in Chicago - with 3 other priests - for a scripture workshop. It was for continuing education.

We had an off night so one the guys I was with - suggested a movie.


We’re heading for the car after supper and this other guy - a diocesan priest - asks if he can come along. He had heard we were going out for a movie.

5 of us - a bit cramped - got in the car - but it was only a 15 minute ride to the movie complex. Good thing - because two of these guys were big guys.

In the car I asked, “What was the movie?”

Pat says, “Forest Gump.”

I said, “Never heard of it.”

I figured it might be a western, from the word, “Forest” or a comedy, from the word, “Gump”.

We see the movie.

We’re standing outside after the movie while one of the guys went to get the car.

I asked the diocesan priest, “How did you like the movie?”

He says, “I didn’t get it. I had no idea what it was about.”

That surprised me, because I liked it.

We get in the car and drive the 15 minutes back to the conference center. The other 3 guys are talking about how they loved the movie - the funny scenes, the history lessons with Forest Gump meeting all these presidents, the Vietnam war protests, Forest being so loyal to Dan, Forest being dumped by Ginny, and how he was so loyal to her as well, and how he started running as his way of dealing with losing her.

We get back to the conference center and I’m standing there. Some other priest asks the priest with us, how he liked the movie. He says, “It was great” - and he began telling some to the ideas he heard in the car to this other guy.

I remained quiet hearing that.

However, I began thinking about that experience. I learned big time from that. Sometimes we learn from the movie while watching it; sometimes we  learn  from talking about the movie or the play or the parable or the song or the experience afterwards.


The next movie was Lawrence of Arabia.

Wow did that movie make me thirsty - with all that sand.

It won 7 Oscars.

We wouldn’t be in some of the mess we are in the middle east today if people had listened to T. E. Lawrence.

I think of two learnings from that movie.

T.E. Lawrence takes 50 men and crosses the Nefud Desert to get to Aqaba. On the trip, a guy named Gasim falls asleep on his camel and falls off. T.E. Lawrence, upon hearing that at a rest stop, gets back on his camel. Someone says, “It is written….” and says something like you don’t go back. Well, I don’t remember the lines, but basically Lawrence says, “I don’t buy that….” and he goes and finds the guy and brings him back. This impresses the Arabs with him.

The second learning was the backdoor approach to solving problems. The Turkish fort at Aqaba had all its guns facing out to sea - the only way to attack it. Its back was completely open - because nobody could attack them from the back - from across the desert.

Sometimes in life - when challenging a situation, the better approach is the unexpected backdoor approach.


The third movie is Throw Momma From the Train.

Larry Donner is Billy Chrystal and Owen is Danny DeVito.

There is a scene in that movie that I love.

It taught me something that I use all the time.

Owen says to Larry, “Do you want to see my coin collection.”

Larry says, “No way!”

Owen asks him again as he gets it.

He pulls back a rug takes up a floor board, and takes out a small metal box - like one of those boxes someone keeps index cards in.

Billy Crystal says, “I’m not interested.”

Owen takes out his coins - three quarters, two nickels and a penny…. Something like that.

In the meanwhile Owen has laid down on the floor and then Billy Chrystal as well.

Owen holding a quarter says this quarter was change my dad let me keep after buying a hot dog at a Peter, Paul and Mary Concert.

“This quarter was change my father let me keep at the Hollywood Palladium, when we attended a  Martin and Lewis concert.

And on and on.

What I got out of all this was that different people have different experiences from all kinds of places and situations - and if we want to be in good human contact with each other, we need to respect all these meanings we give to persons, places and things.

For example we’re going by a cemetery - and it’s just a cemetery - but it’s very different if someone has a loved one buried there.

Every time I go by the Treaty of Paris Restaurant at the top of Duke of Gloucester street I think of my niece Margie and her husband Jerry. That’s where he proposed to her.

BLACK  HAND  [1950]

The next movie was, The Black Hand.

Gene Kelly - plays the part of an Italian young man named, Giovanni “Johnny” Colombo.

How about that? An Irishman playing the part of an Italian.

The scene I remember is a group of young men are standing on the wooden deck of a small freighter - and they are talking about why they are going to America.

When it comes time for Johnny to speak, he pulls out a stiletto or a switch blade and aims it at the floor and the point goes right into the wood. He says, “I’m going to America to avenge the death of my father who was killed by the The Black Hand - a Mafia type group.

What I got out of that scene was how different folks have so many different motives.

Immigrants - legal and illegal - want to come to America for all kinds of different reasons.

All of us here in church today - we’re all here for all kinds of different reasons.

We just have to ask each other, “Why are you here?”


One of my favorite stories is about a young lady who went to a small community college in West Virginia. I heard this when I was preaching a parish mission in a small town along the Ohio River.

This young lady was getting horrible grades, D’s and F’s.

She was called in to see the Dean of Academics and he or she said, “Why are you here?”

And she answered, and I wrote down her answer on a Styrofoam cup that is on my bookshelf for a good 17 years at least. She said, “I came here to be went with, and I ain’t been went with yet.”

Why are you here in church today?


My 5th and last movie is, Still Alice.

I just saw this movie last week - up in New Jersey. Someone offered this 2014 movie at the end of the day  - after a picnic and a get together.

It’s a movie I never heard of.

Julianne Moore plays the part of a lady who gets early onset Alzheimer’s and you see her losing her memory right before your eyes - on the mirror called a movie screen.

I was wondering in the back of my mind about the title of the movie: Still Alice. I didn’t get it at first, but then, “Boom!” It hit me.

She was still Alice  - as is - no matter how lost she was becoming.

I don’t know if I’ll remember this movie for the rest of my life, but for the rest of my life, I hope I won’t forget every person in my life, every person in every nursing home, every person who is losing it, is still Charlie or Sam or Mary or Michelle.


Enough already.

This has been an easy homily. 
July 16, 2017


Sometimes we only get glimpses
of another - quick glances - and
we jump to conclusions on just
who the other is  - then in time
our assumptions prove wrong -
making divorces and break ups
the real conclusion. Knowing -
really getting to know each other -
takes time, many conversations,
many questions and often we
not only don’t know the other
but we don’t even know ourselves.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017