Saturday, August 12, 2017

August 12, 2017


Acceptance is the gift you want.

It’s a necessary part of patience.
It’s a necessary part of forgiveness.
It's a necessary part of peace making.
It’s a necessary part of understanding.
It’s a necessary part of laughing at life.
It’s a necessary part of putting up with jerks.

Acceptance is the gift to pray for and work on.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Friday, August 11, 2017


Today, August 11, is the feast of St. Clare of Assisi ( 1194-1253).

August 11, 2017


Stone: so secure, so present, 
so solid, so here, so refusing.

Water: so chameleon, so changing, ice,
steam, rain, tea, yet it sees the world.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Thursday, August 10, 2017



On this the feast of St. Lawrence, I would like to preach on the theme of generosity - being generous - being a giving person.


Down through the years generosity is the one criterion I hope to find in another - especially a priest. Is this person generous?

If I am stuck, if I need a job done, who is the first person that I would think of to ask for help from?

I also hope people are not hesitant to call on me.

So if people think of you as someone who is an easy touch for time and work, I think that’s a great compliment.


St. Lawrence was a deacon in the early church.  He was one of the 7 deacons serving the church in Rome.  After Peter and Paul, he is the patron saint of the city of Rome.

Along with Pope Sixtus II and a few other deacons, he was arrested around 258 and killed. They killed Sixtus and the others first, then Lawrence. The story is that they tortured Lawrence, so as to get the money they figured he had.

What he used to do as deacon was to collect money and goods for the poor and then distribute it. Evidently, he was a good collector and a good giver and distributer. I picture him like Father George Wichland, who was great in collecting and distributing money and food  to the poor of Baltimore.

When those who wanted his money asked him, “Where is your treasure?” he pointed to the poor.

After Lawrence was killed,  a mob of poor people went to the prefect of Rome and asked for their treasure: Lawrence.

His tomb is one of the 7 principal churches of Rome.


The legend is that he was burned to death on a gridiron. I’ve seen pictures of the gridiron. It’s like a barbecue grill.

When I was in Rome I went to his shrine, where he is buried, and there is a marble grill there, with holes in it, so the blood can drip through into the fire.

One story has it that he was killed by the sword. The tradition that people love is that he was burned to death and with humor said, “I’m done on this side, turn me over.”

The Latin is, “Assum est, versa, et manduca.”


I went to Rome for 5 weeks in 1984 - in hopes of seeing Scala and the Redemptorist holy places. As I was looking thru my journal from that trip this morning, to look up stuff about the shrine of St. Lawrence for this homily, I noticed the names of John Ruef, Tom Forest, and Terry Kennedy. The three of them were Redemptorists stationed in our house in Rome. They were very busy people. Tom Forest was with the international headquarters of the charismatic movement. John Ruef was consultor general at the time. And Terry Kennedy was a professor at the Alfonsiana.

Well, preaching on generosity, all 3 were very generous with their time to me. John Ruef gave me almost 3 out of my 5 weeks in Italy. He took me on buses, trains, taxis, to all kinds of places that I would never get to. He was a great tour guide. Terry Kennedy gave up a bunch of his time to take us the shrine of St. Lawrence as well as other places in Rome that I’m sure he saw a hundred times while taking visitors to Rome to good spots. So too Tom Forest.

That’s generosity. That’s giving. We might not have money. We might not have silver and gold, but what we can give so often, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, is our time.


And I believe that is the theme of today’s readings, chosen especially to fit this the feast of St. Lawrence.

In the first reading, Paul is trying to collect money. He tells the people of Corinth, “He who sows sparingly, will reap sparingly and he who sows bountifully will reap bountifully. Everyone must give according to what he has inwardly decided; not sadly, not grudgingly, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Today’s gospel ends with the great words, “Anyone who serves me, the Father will honor.” Well, Lawrence has been honored since the 3rd century. Certainly, he served the body of Christ.


Hopefully, like Christ, like Lawrence, we will be generous servants - saying to all: "Take and eat. This is my body. This is my time - given to you."

And then add, “I’m not done yet.”
August 10, 2017


Didn’t you know you need today
to appreciate yesterday and
you’ll need tomorrow to appreciate today -
but you won’t know that till tomorrow?

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

August 9, 2017


Heart, eyes, liver,
thoughts and words of others….
walking down the street
in someone else’s body,
in someone else’s mind.
Hopefully, we realize
we’re not in this alone;
we are all part of one another.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Tuesday, August 8, 2017



The title of my homily for this 18th Tuesday in Ordinary Time is, “What Sculpts Our Face?”


While driving along I notice people pausing - especially at red lights -  to check out how they look in the mirror.

I wonder at times - how many times - do people stop to check out their soul - their being - their attitude - when they look in the mirror - as they are going down the roads of life?

Do they look deep into their eyes and not just the surface and surroundings of their eyes?

The eyes are the window to the soul.

How am I in there?

What’s forming my face?

What’s sculpting my face?


We’re hearing stories about Moses and Miriam and Aaron these days with these first readings from Numbers and earlier from Exodus. It struck  me as I read these readings, “What were the faces of Moses, Miram and Aaron like?"

We’re told that God talked to Moses face to face.  We also hear that Moses’ face glistened and shined - with a bright light.


I noticed in a few commentaries on today’s first reading that the Lord was angry with Miriam and Aaron - Moses' brother and sister - for speaking out against him. They had complained, "Is it through Moses alone that the Lord speaks?" Then they added what every kid would say, "What about us?" 

Deeper motives .... They had been angry with Moses because he chose a Cushite for his wife. The Cushites were from down in Ethiopia and were a bit more black. Miriam is featured the most in today’s first reading from Numbers. Envy was eating her up. Was she envious because this wife was much younger? Was she much more beautiful than Miriam?

Bluntly the reading says that Miriam gets leprosy. In those days,  this was any serious skin deformation.  The book of Numbers says her face looked like a still born baby who was missing part of his or her skin.


Reflecting on this, I asked questions about the impact of our attitudes on our face.

So that's where I got the question, "What sculpts a face." 

One of the meanings for the name Miriam is “bitter”.

Would someone who is constantly bitter of soul become bitter of face?

How many times have we seen a face that has the ends of the mouth line - turned downwards. It’s an unhappy face. How many unhappy moments, how many inner complaints, does it take to make a face an unhappy face?

What can turn those face lines upwards at the mouth endings - so as to be wearing an authentic happy face.

People spend millions on plastic surgery for their face to look better, when spiritual surgery - will do it so much better - but free of charge - if we do inner work - working with the grace of God.


When you look in the mirror and you see an unhappy face, or when you see someone with a constant sad face, say Moses prayer at the end of today’s first reading. “Moses cried to the Lord, ‘Please, not this! Pray, heal her!” 
August 8, 2017


That’s a big bell…. I’m sure all could
hear its sound for miles and miles
around -  calling all to prayer, all to
meet, all to know -  no one is alone.

But what about bells that are retired?
Are they sort of like folks in nursing homes?
They did their job - in their time - and now
they just hang around - silent - doing nothing.

Do both old folks and old bells - just
have memories of when they felt valued
and necessary and everyone knew
they were around by their sound?

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Monday, August 7, 2017

KISS -  


The title of my homily for this 18th Monday in Ordinary Time is, “The Mass: Kiss - Keep It Simple Stupid.”

Both readings for today hit home on one of the most basic things human beings do. We eat.

In the first reading, we have one of the most basic things people do about food. They complain. I don’t like cucumbers leeks, onions and garlic. I’d eat the melons. [Cf. Numbers 11: 4b-15.]

In the gospel, we have one of the most basic things people do. They hang around places and people who provide food. [Cf. Matthew 14: 13-21.]

Just listen to people. The food is too hot, too cold, too old, too not enough, too unappetizing.  Complain. Complain. Complain.

Just watch teenagers. When food appears, they appear. Watch dogs, they want food.


This reality about food tells me how smart Jesus was. The Mass is a meal - and he told us to do his Last Supper in memory of him.
Just read the gospels and notice how many times Jesus is at meals. Just notice how he feeds the hungry folks. Notice how we wanted to eat with his disciples. Obviously, food - feeding people - was important to him.


So the Mass was a meal for starters - but when folks were eating too much and drinking too much at the community means, they moved the “meal” part to another place and/or after the Mass part. So they simplified the ceremony.
At meals we eat, we drink, we talk.

At the Mass we eat, we drink, we talk.

Once the Church numbers grew - once the crowds get larger, then the Mass changes and becomes our liturgy.

In this homily I want to stress the bare bones underside of the Mass. It’s a meal.
And at meals, we have those three ingredients - besides people: bread, wine, and words.

Jesus knew people. We need to eat. We need to share our life - and our life stories together.

I was at a family gathering yesterday. We ate. We talked. We gathered together.


We know when we are in sync with each other - in communion with each other - it’s then we can eat with each other.

We know when we can’t stomach each other. We know the folks we spot and walk away from.  Women are better at knowing this than men. Who makes the lists of who sits with whom at weddings and family gatherings?

We know where there is so and so 5 feet away and we wait till they sit down and we move away as far as possible. We know whom we would like to sit next to and whom to avoid.


So when we start to complain why so and so started to break away from the Mass, they did it slowly. So too the family.

So this is basic, basic stuff - I was taught the KISS principle in public speaking. KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
August 7, 2017


A smile begets a smile.
Tears beget tears.
Happiness begets happiness.
Holding doors begets holding doors.
Just watch - at a busy door. It happens
every time. I guarantee it.
A good word begets a good word.
A sneeze begets a sneeze.
A “God bless you” begets a “Thank you.”
Clapping begets more clapping.
Laughter begets more laughter.
Noise begets a “Shush!”
Silence begets silence - sometimes.
Music begets music and sometimes foot tapping.
Beeping horns begets, “Give me a break.”
Bumps cause bumps.
A falling domino topples other dominoes.
Frustration begets frustration.
Loneliness begets phone calls.
Tension begets tension.
Locks begets knocks and bell ringing.
Ice cream begets, “Me too.”
Or as Groucho Marx put it,
“If your parents didn’t have any
children - chances are you won’t either.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

August 7, 2017


Buy good bulbs.
Light takes away darkness. 
Think good thoughts.
Light takes away darkness.

Listen with your eyes and ears.
Light takes away darkness.
Love with all your heart.
Light takes away darkness.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

August 6, 2017


It’s fascinating how much space
a barb, a dig, another - can take -
in the inner room of my mind.

A comment at a coffee break can
continue cutting into my sense of
balance for the rest of my day. Ugh.

If I had storage room for every
moment of my day,  what would
I look like? How would I feel?

Home Depot? Giant? Nope. I would
love my memory to look like the dessert
glass case - up front - in a Greek Diner.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017



The title of my homily is “Highs and Lows - Both Are Part of the Deal.”

Today - August 6th is the feast of the Transfiguration - and since August 6th  happens this year on a Sunday -  we’re celebrating this feast of Jesus - on this Sunday.  It knocks out the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time.


You know the scene, you know the story. Jesus takes the big three - up the mountain - Peter, James and his brother John. I would have liked it, if Jesus took Andrew along for the trip - but no.

People have favorites - and sometimes we’re not in on the deal.  Better get used to it. It’s called “Life”.

And Jesus changes. He is seen in a new light.  Jesus is transfigured. As Mathew describes Jesus, “His face shone like the sun and his clothes become white as light.”

A bright cloud cast a shadow on the 3 disciples and they hear a voice come out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

And it’s such a powerful experience that Peter says, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

All three fall down in awe. They hit bottom. They are back to their beginnings - hopeless and helpless - down to earth from which we came. They are Adam and Eve - and God needs to rebreathe new life into them.

And Jesus says, “Rise, and do not be afraid.”

That’s the Transfiguration story. How do you take it?


There are many life lessons in this Transfiguration Story and this Transfiguration scene.

As you know Pope John Paul II gave us 5 more mysteries to reflect upon when we say the Rosary. The 4th mystery for the Light Bearing Mysteries of the rosary is the Transfiguration.

What do you reflect upon if you say the rosary and reflect upon this mystery.

Let me give two short reflections.  There are many more.


We have all seen a heart monitor or an electrocardiogram.

Our pulse gives off an up and a down motion.

If we flat line we’re dead.

Life has its mountains and its valleys. Life has its ups and downs.

Life has its bumps and potholes. Life has its hills and it’s dips.

If you go up Bestgate Road - past the Mall and you go over General’s Highway  - and if you don’t take a right or a left - but you go straight ahead - onto Housley Road  - a continuation of Bestgate which ends there - say you’re heading for Best Buy, you have to slow down right  there - there’s a dip - you can’t take it too fast  - then you can speed up and slip up the hill - going by the Department of Motor Vehicles on your left.

The road of life has its ups and downs - ins and outs - rights and lefts - slow downs and speed it up.

The surface of this planet earth has its mountains and valleys, its caves and caverns, its rights and lefts and reversals. We can see all this anytime we look around and see where we are - where we’ve been and what we’re headed for.

So too our lives.

I do a lot of weddings and a lot of funerals and a lot of baptisms - besides plain old plain old every day.

The young bride’s smile - her skin is perfect - and we look out and see her great-great grandmother sitting there in church - and then we see her as well as on Table # 2 - with the wrinkles and the retreads of age. But she also has the stuff of lived life in her - and if we listen to her - and hear her stories - her face lights up. She becomes transfigured.

And sometimes when we listen to old folks - when they tell us about their life - especially their transfiguration moments - we hear the sentence in today’s gospel, “This is my beloved daughter!” or “This is my beloved Son. Listen to them.”

So that’s my first reflection: life has its ups and downs, its highs and lows, the title of my homily.


In today’s first reading we have a section of the Book of Daniel which has mysterious images and messages.

Today’s reading is obviously picked because it has the phrase, “The Son of Man”.  We hear this phrase more in the Gospels - and the scholars simply say it’s a term, a phrase, that has many meanings.

In the Book of Daniel it might mean that the author of that document saw a hope that a new king, a new Messiah, would come - who would make all things right. One of us - a human - a king - a savior  - a son of man and woman - would come and save us.

Think about life. In every human being there are times when we want a savior:  the right doctor, the right therapist, the right leader, the right human, who will step up and save us
In the gospels,  that idea - that image - of the Son of Man who will come and save us - is used and attached to Jesus - who is our savior and redeemer. And he is human - besides being God. 

So we hear Jesus entitled both Son of God and Son of Man - one of us who made it.

Paul will develop the most about Jesus when it comes to Christology - which means - Words about Christ.

Jesus, the Son of Man was the same as us - except for sin.

Jesus, the Son of Man, suffered and sweated, was listened to and was rejected.

Jesus, the Son of Man, was exalted and defaulted.

Jesus, the Son of Man, had his Palm Sunday moment - when all sang his praise -  but the following Friday - labeled Good Friday - he felt life when everything bad happens.  It takes a lot of prayer and growth when we can label a bad day - a bad time in our life - a good day - a Good Friday experience.  It takes the cross, the crucifixion, the being cursed and spat at - and Easter - Resurrection - before we can make a horrible life experience a good experience - especially when we come out of the other side of a horror story with growth and new life and new learnings.

I’m not an alcoholic - I never drank in my life - but I’ve been to many AA retreats and meetings - and I’ve heard many a speaker tell how the horror years have given them an education - in the so called “School of Hard Knocks”.
We’ve all heard about street smarts.

We’ve all heard people say, “Experience is the best teacher.” Wise people say, “Mistakes can be the best teachers.” That is, if we learn from our mistakes.

So Jesus had this enormous mountain moment in today’s gospel  - when he has a great shining moment - and Jesus says, “Don’t talk about what you just saw till after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.

I like the theology of the Son of Man to mean that Jesus represents all of us - when he walked amongst us - and experienced everything we experience  - except iPhones and Siri.

So Jesus, the Son of Man, had his holocaust, his rape, his abuse, his being bullied, his being murdered, crucified,  during his life - but especially on that Friday  called Good Friday in Holy Week. On that bad Friday he learned and taught us a lot.

But like everything we learn, it’s from looking back that we learn. Those are what we call transfiguration- resurrection moments.

Christ went before us and modeled for us - what it’s like to be human - what it’s like to be what God the Father  wants us to be - and it’s then we please God - well please God - as his beloved Son or Daughter.

One of us made it - so all of us can make it.

One of us was described by God, “This is my beloved Son, with whom  I am well pleased.”


My homily is about life.

Life is about ups and downs, highs and lows, and when we learn about all this - we can have transfiguration moments.

So when we live enough life, when we reflect and pray and bring God into our life - we can have transfiguration moments.

If you have hit 50 I would hope you have had at least 3 Transfiguration moments. It could be at Mass. It could be while taking a shower. It could be while sitting in the airport waiting for our plane. It could be at the Ocean City - on the beach - when we got up early to walk the beach - and we experience the sun rise - and we know - we just know, God is with us.  It could be in the middle of a nasty break up, a Cavalry Moment, and we are able to see and say, “Father forgive him or her because she doesn’t know what he or she is doing.”

It could be in the hospital - and we’re in for a major operation. Or we’re with a family member going through hell - and we yearn for heaven.

One key is when we say in the middle of pain and hurt, “Lord, it’s good that I am here.”

When we are able to say that, we’re getting it.

The big one will be when we wake up in eternity - in the embrace of our God - and we say, “Lord, it’s good that we are here.”
August 6, 2017


by Peter Howson