Saturday, April 11, 2015

April 11, 2015


This is a picture of a red chair that
my dad made in the 1940’s or so.
It’s still around. It's been painted and repainted
at various times in its existence. It sat there
in Brooklyn. Now it sits there in Doylestown, PA.
He fished the wood from the waters of
the Narrows – between Staten Island
and Brooklyn – brought it home and made
this chair – along with the green fence
that surrounded our back yard. My dad,
he worked doing a lot of lifting of flower
and sugar and stuff  for Nabisco's Big Bakery 
in New York and then Fairlawn, N.J. - but 
better - he enjoyed reading - especially
poetry - and being a carpenter and a fisherman 
on the side. Wow, he showed me big time  
we are made in the image and likeness of God -
Carpenter, Baker, Fisherman, Creator and Father.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015



The title of my brief homily for this Friday in the Octave of Easter  is, “The Name of Jesus.”

I’m sure you noticed in the New Testament the words, “the name of Jesus.”

It’s right there in today’s first reading. Annas the high priest, Caiphas and various other big shots question Peter – on his right to be doing what he’s doing – preaching and healing in the name of Jesus.

And Peter accepts their complaint and announces that’s exactly what he is doing – He’s doing everything in the name of Jesus.


I remember reading somewhere along the line the comment that married people  - people in love – use one word more than any other word.

Obvious that triggered a response in my mind. Is it the word “love” as in “I love you?”

Nope. It’s the person’s name – for their beloved.

Not being married I didn’t know that.

So I started listening. Sure enough, it is the other person’s first name.

Then I thought back to seeing kids doodle – on paper – on covers – on loose leaf binders – the name of their girl friend or boyfriend at the time.

How difficult is it to get a tattoo off?

How does this phenomenon – this reality – show up in the world of Facebook,  texting, twittering, emailing?

I’m sure this could be measured better with digital technology.


So how about taking the name of Jesus – and making it an inner prayer?

How about taking a rosary and just running through the 59 beads and slowly saying and savoring the name of Jesus?

“Jesus” “Jesus” “Jesus” “Jesus” “Jesus” “Jesus” “Jesus”  “Jesus” “Jesus”

How about taking a rosary and saying 59 times, “Hallowed be your name.”

How about taking a rosary and saying 59 times, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

How about checking out how we say the name of Jesus when we’re praying?  How is our reverence, respect, awe levels, when we say the name of Jesus?

Friday, April 10, 2015

April 10, 2015


Try this:
What would your life be like,
if you imagined your life to be without God?
What would your life be like,
If you imagined your life to be without an afterlife?

Think about:
Would your choices be different?
Would you see sin be not doing anything to God,
but what hurts or damages you, others or our earth?
Would you pause before every decision in a new way?

Wonder about:
Atheists are sort of in that box; what’s that like?
God would be outside your box; what’s that like?
You would have to rethink, retry and rewonder
about your life; what would that be like?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015
April 9, 2015


Triangle, square, circle…
Not bad for a basic three …
Today – while thinking of a triangle…
I’m thinking of life – You, others and me in that context …
I’m thinking of Religion: Faith, Hope, and Charity…
I’m thinking of Food: carbs, proteins, fats ….
I’m thinking of God: You are inside and outside my triangle …
God: I’m always looking for an angle, an edge, and a corner…
God: you are pictured as a triangle on our dollar bill…
Pyramids built by powerful pharaohs to assure eternal life…
God: You – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – give us eternal life…
God - Eternal Triangle you are like a pool table rack
bringing together all the balls – all the cells – all the atoms
moving around on the great green table of life …

 © Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April 8, 2015


Can I ever get to the basis of another’s motive? 
Can I ever know why someone did what
they did and the basis of why I responded 
the way I responded to their behavior?

Can I ever get to the innermost center of another's
burning center - called "Cause' - whoever it is – 
even God whether it's called “Motive" or 
"what makes me tick".  If I say, “Yes! I know another's motive. Yes,I know why they are doing what they are doing.  It's then 
I'm playing God. Do I want to go there?"

But if I know, if I say, "No. I really don’t know" –

then there’s a basis of hope for me. In reality,
if I realize I'm only on 
the surface of motive,

then I can become humble. I can begin to realize 
I’m Adam – a scratch of clay. I’m Eve – a rib from Adam - from just  below his  surface. I'm just
at the edge of the edge of reality.

It takes time to realize we're all so far from the  center of the basis of it all – our God from whom we come - better we are moving towards

being on the edge of the edge of the edge
of the edge of the edge of the edge of God. 

So it takes a lifetime to get to the doors 

of our underworld. Then as Jesus told us: 
ask, seek, knock. So and we knock, we open, 
we ask, we seek, we start to discover
glimpses of the inside of the circle  - 
we stand there at the edge of basis of me - 
whether my basic motive is greed or grief 
or love or fear, or I didn't get the attention 
I needed or I was hurt or blinded  when I was younger and I didn't grow or know 
I'm a gift from God - or whatever.

Oh, I'm only guessing at all this - and one more guess: 
guess I'll need eternity 
to find out the basis of me - others, God.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2115
April 7, 2015


As I shook his hand I knew
he wouldn’t shake his conviction.
He wouldn’t change his mind.
He was he and I was I -
and I wasn’t going to
change my mind either.
I knew that. He knew that.
I knew he wouldn’t come back
to another meeting like this.

As he walked away
I thought of other people
who have passed out
of my life like this.
Is it the way I say things?
Is it my convictions and
my inability to change?
He made me feel
like a kid selling lemonade
on the street - and it was
a cold day – and nobody
wanted what I was selling.
Everyone was walking by.

Being human can be rough tough stuff.
Being a Christian means ridicule.
rejection, and the way of the cross.
Being a priest – most think priests

don’t get what those who aren’t priests
are going through. Some do; some don’t.
Then up go walls – with locked doors
built of fear and assumptions – with
everyone forgetting Christ goes through walls.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015
April 6, 2015


Why do we remember what we remember?

Why do we remember an afternoon -
when we were 16 years old. We were
at the lake. It was summertime. It was
vacation. We were all alone in the woods.
We were sitting on a rock. For about
15 minutes we watched a canoe gliding
on the lake. Suddenly lightning crashed
down towards the canoe and we screamed
a prayer of  “Oh no! God, Oh, no, no!” Then
within seconds all was calm and nobody
was hurt. But what were they feeling?

Why? Why? Why do we remember that moment?

Why do we remember that day in the Fourth
Grade when we won the spelling bee - and
that was the last time we ever won anything?
Why? Why? Why?

Why? Why? Why do we remember these moments?

Why do we remember that day when a teacher
singled us out and made fun of us and everyone
in the class laughed – except us. We cried.

Why? Why? Why do we remember these moments?

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015

Sunday, April 5, 2015



Happy Easter.

The title of my homily is, “Thresholds.”

I was wondering where to go with a homily for today – Easter Sunday. What do you need for your soul, for your spirituality, for your life?  Lent is over. It was 40 days of borrowed time – time lent to us – for our spiritual life and growth. Now, what’s now, what’s next?  If Lent is a quieting down – a withdrawing – a stepping back, experiencing the so called “Desert Experience”, what is the next?


Notice the gospel for today begins with Mary of Magdala going out – heading for the disaster – coming to the tomb – the place of broken dreams – the grave of nightmares. Notice the tomb is empty. She runs away from crossing the threshold of that tomb. She runs back to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved. She tells them that “They have taken the Lord from the tomb.”

Today’s gospel then tells us that Peter and the Beloved disciple run to the tomb. The Beloved Disciple gets there first – but doesn’t cross the threshold into the tomb. He lets Peter cross that threshold first.

Peter enters into the tomb.  He sees everything – the cloths – but no body. Then the beloved disciple crosses the threshold of the tomb. He goes in and is the first to believe. He’s the first to cross that threshold of faith, that belief in resurrection – because of Christ.


Bernard Basset, a Jesuit retreat master, in a talk once told about a personal experience from earlier on in his life. He was visiting a home for kids who had severe relationship problems.

The head of the institute invited Bernard into a tiny room that had a two way mirror – through which you could observe how the kids reacted and interacted with each other in a big room on the other side of that mirror.

Here’s how I remembered the story.

They give this kid lots of therapy.  They put him in a big doll house that is in that big room on the other side of the mirror.  There are some toys in there. The kid starts playing with the toys.

Then a door at the further end of that room opens up and a whole group of about 15 other kids come in and head for the toys just inside the door they just came in.

The kid in the small play house stands up and looks out the window of the tiny house he’s in - towards all these other kids in play. The director of the institute then says to Bernard – in the observing room with the two way mirror, “If the kid opens up the door of his little house – steps out into the big room – and heads towards all the other kids and starts playing games and interacting  with them he’s going to make it.”

He opens the door – crosses the threshold and walks down to where the others are – and starts playing with them.


If you listen carefully to the Post-Easter readings for the next month or so, you’ll hear about the disciples in the locked upper room. They are afraid – very much afraid – and they finally break out of that locked room – filled with the Holy Spirit of Jesus – and go out into our world – interact with it – and change it.


I always liked that story – because it’s a life and death story.

I’ve heard of hundreds of people who climbed out of a bottle – and crossed the threshold of AA meetings – like the Red House up the street – took that step – did the steps – kept doing the steps and they were healed. Some fall again – crawl back into a bottle – looking for God – comfort – solution – salvation at the bottom of a bottle as they say – and wake up and walk out and back over the threshold of an AA meeting again – and they are healed once again.

Life is crossing thousands and thousands of thresholds – some into life, some into death; some into heaven, some into hell?

At many a cemetery, some see the tomb and death and the without, some look up to the sky and see eternal life and the next step in life – starting again.

Life is giving up at times. We could have been dissed, fired, dumped, hurt or it could be the experience of another death. Life is running away from the tomb – and running towards resurrection here and hereafter.

We had a boy on our block when we were kids – and he was different – and we boys called him put down words. We didn’t know about being homosexual or even what that word meant back then – or what our comments and behavior meant to him.

Years later – and far away from him – I heard he came out of the so called closet. He crossed that narrow threshold – and discovered life. We are seeing in our lifetime people slowly coming out of those rooms of ridicule and hurting others – rising from being dead in prejudice. That stone has been rolled away – big time in the last few years.

Easter is a good time to be like Mary and go to the tombs within us – where we put the dead Christ – and surprise – to discover they are empty. Christ does not stay in death.

Christ is alive – and he wants to be alive in us. Easter us, O Christ,  Easter us.


Two weeks ago I received one of those e-mails that go all around the world in minutes. I’m sure you got it at some point – and you were told to e-mail to five people – you know – otherwise your toe nails will fall off.

It showed twins talking to themselves in their mommy’s tummy – and one says that he hears music or something out there. The other says, “No this is all there is – and I’m staying put.” Then he adds that he loves this life as is. One can see eating with his or her mouth – we have a cord.  One doesn’t believe in a mother. Never saw one. The other does.


Last night at St. John Neumann we saw 30 or so folks coming alive with baptism and confirmation in the Catholic Church. Then Father Harrison – who works with Deacon Leroy Moore – and a good group of parishioners – as a team said to them, “It’s now your turn  to go out of this church and bring Christ to our world – your family, your neighbors, where you work, and where you go.

He didn’t use the word threshold – but that’s what they were told to do – to cross thresholds like hundreds of thousands of new Catholics were told to do all around the world.


That’s my homily. Life is risks. Life is opening lots of doors. Live is seeing there is resurrection and new life – all our lives.

Like the little kid in my first story, we’ll make it – if we realize we can’t do this alone, but it would be better to do this with each other. That’s the beginning of our resurrection – here and hereafter. Amen

April 5, 2015 - Easter Sunday


Some see Spring 
before the others. 
A blade of green grass…. 
A bursting yellow green bud …. 
A bird or two with morning music…. 
A flower opens up  near a tombstone…. 
Death is not forever….
Some see Spring
before the others.

Some see Resurrection
before the others.
A smile replaces a tear
on a widowed face….
Christ says, “Mary” or “John”
and we know the Risen Christ
and won’t let go of our crushing arms….
Some see Resurrection
before the others.

© Andy Costello, Reflections 2015