Saturday, April 15, 2017


APRIL  15, 1947

Today Jackie Robinson - number 42 - began his big league career for the Brooklyn Dodgers. I've always been happy to say I saw a game that season at the age of 7 - in Ebbets Field, and I remember Jackie Robinson.

April 15, 2017


Each day,
life the great teacher,
calls out our name
as we meet at least
3 key moments or 1 key person.

Each day
this disciple called, “me”,
sits there in life’s classroom,
and we can  respond with
either a “Present” or an “Absent”.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Friday, April 14, 2017



The title of my homily for this Good Friday Service  is, “Just Sitting, Just Thinking, Just Praying.”

A little girl came into church one day - and saw all those people sitting there - and it was a very quiet moment in the Mass and she asked her grandmother, “What are all these people doing?”

And her grandmother answered, “Just sitting, just thinking, just praying.”

So the title of my homily is just that, “Just Sitting, Just Thinking, Just Praying.”

And if someone asks you, “Why do you go to church?” there’s a good answer. Simply say, “Just Sitting, Just Thinking, Just Praying.”


Around 1970 - during the Vietnam War - I went with a couple of guys to see the movie, “Oh What a Lovely War.”

Amazingly,  it was a musical. It was a shoot-em-up. It was a horror movie.

It contrasted what was going on back home in England during World War I to  what was happening in the trenches and the killing fields of Europe.

The war - dubbed “The War To End All Wars” - went on from 1914 to 1918.

We’re in the midst of its 100th anniversary - right now - and not as much has been made of it - as should be made of it.

70 million military personnel were involved - 60 million European.

9 million combatants and then another 7 million civilians were killed.

The war ended in 1918 with the armistice.

The movie ended and something very unusual happened in that New York Theater that night. I heard after wards, it happened many times after the movie ended.

Nobody moved when the movie ended.  People were just sitting there. People were just thinking there. I don’t know how many people were praying there. Nobody was talking.

It felt like forever - till we all stood up - and quietly walked out of the theater into the night.

The final scene of the movie had 4 women dressed in white: a grandmother, two young women, and a young girl. They were sitting in this great big - enormous green hilly field. It was easy on the eyes and a welcome sight on the screen after two hours of seeing mud and water and rain and machine gun fire and bomb blasts and soldiers dying, dying, dying, just to get less than a hundred yards of dirt brown ground and holes.

And the little girl in white says to her grandmother in the presence of her mother and an aunt, “Granny, what did daddy do in the war.”

And the song that answers that little girl’s question has the refrain, “Oh,  we’ll never tell them, no we’ll never tell them ….”

And across the movie screen - across the big green field on the movie screen - comes a lone soldier - the war is over and he comes to a  place where there are 4 soldiers - laying there alive but not talking in the waving green grass - eyes closed or looking at the sky.

And the lone soldier plops himself down - without any words - on the grass - and then the 5 men fade and disappear  - and the field then has 5 white crosses and then the camera in this last scene in the movie - pans back the scene and the field now has  5 thousand - then 50 thousand at least - white crosses all lined up in perfect symmetry in this gigantic military cemetery.

It’s worth seeing this movie.

It’s worth seeing bits and pieces of this movie on You Tube snippets - especially that last scene - with all those crosses.


Today we come to church to:  just sit, just think, just pray.

As priest I get to kiss the cross of Christ early on - up front - and personal.  Then all of you come up to kiss the cross as well.

I love to then sit back and watch.

I remember reading Karl Rahner - the famous German Jesuit theologian’s sermon - for  Good Friday. He thinks out loud about 10 or 15 people who kiss the cross and tells you what they might be thinking and praying about at that moment.

Tonight do the same. Watch each other. Think about each other. Pray for each other.

The big long gospel reading mentions 10 or 15 people whom we might  think about on Good Friday. Jesus the Nazarene entering a garden on the last night of his life - needing to find space and time to pray - but with his disciples and they bottom out and fall asleep. Then there is Judas and the Pharisees and the soldiers. What were they thinking? Then there was Peter who denies knowing Jesus. What did that do to him for the rest of his life? Did his failure make him a better first pope?  What about the chief priest? What was his take on the weak and easily manipulated Pontius Pilate?  What about Barabbas? Did he pinch himself when the crowd screamed for Jesus’ death and spared him that day? What about Mary and the Beloved Disciple under the cross.  What about those who heard Jesus say, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing?” What did Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea think - when they asked for Jesus body so they could bury him? Did their faith that day - die as well?

That’s a lot of people to think about - those at the time of Jesus, those who are with us in church tonight, those out there tonight in battle zones and in harm’s way in the killing fields or our world.


Picture a little girl coming into the back of this church tonight. Hear her seeing us here tonight and then thinking and saying, “What are you doing here in church tonight?  What  did you do in your life so far?”

And unlike the men in the movie, “Oh What a Lovely War,” talk to each other about life’s big questions - what you have seen so far in life - what you’re thinking about each day - and what you’re praying about. Amen.
April 14, 2017


People screaming at Jesus:
“Crucify him. Crucify him.”
As if he was running for office.

No.  And he was not running
for his life. He was standing up
and standing out for the Good.

After that it’s a mystery why God
became one of us and was willing
to lay down his life for his friends.

And enemies…. To scream out from
the cross “Father forgive them for
they don’t know what they are doing."

To voice from the cross - to God our
Father - what everyone feels while
suffering, “Why have you forsaken me?”

To pray: “Into your hands, my God,
 I hand over my spirit.” To hear back,
“Today, you’ll be with me in Paradise.”

©  Andy Costello, Reflections  2017
Painting on top: The Yellow Christ 
by Paul Gauguin, 1889

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The title of my reflection for this Holy Thursday Morning is, “Wearing a Crown.”

I think I’ve had this Holy Thursday morning reflection every year for the past ten years or so, so I look for something new every year from this short reading from Hebrews - Chapter 2 - verses  9b-10.

"We see Jesus crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, that through God’s gracious will he might taste death for the sake of all. Indeed, it was fitting that when bringing many to glory, God, for whom and through whom all things exist, should make their leader in the work of salvation perfect through suffering." 

Last night I read this text a few times to see what would hit me. This year - it’s  the idea of being crowned. The reading begins, “We see Jesus crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death.”

If Father Tizio was preaching this I’m sure he would have found a golden crown - like one from Burger King - or asked if they had a crown as a left over prop in our school.  He’s the best I’ve ever seen with props for preaching. I love the way he introduces a theme and then goes over behind the altar or a chair or the podium and brings out a prop we all can see.

From this reading I could see him holding two crowns: a gold one for a king - and a crown of thorns which Jesus gets tonight or tomorrow - when being ridiculed by the Roman soldiers who arrested him.

This week we see Jesus both in glory and honor -  and Jesus in sorrow and suffering.

On Palm Sunday Jesus is hailed as Prophet, Priest and King - coming into Jerusalem in honor and glory - but by Friday - Bad Friday - which was renamed Good Friday because on the cross - he dies and saves the world.

If we look at our lives there are days when we felt like a king or queen - for example on our 25 or 50th birthday or anniversary  - or we were the one chosen to crown Mary Queen - in a Marian May Procession. We might have had a solo in a musical or hit a solo home run in a baseball or softball game - and we were the hero - or there was a game when we struck out or made an error and we were booed.

Life is both!  Life is  both successes and failures.

Which do we learn from the most?

Many say we learn the most from our mistakes - our sufferings - our failures - when we are hurting.

Many say we learn the most from our crosses.

It’s when we recover - when we rise.

That Holy Thursday evening Jesus sat down and ate his final meal with his disciples. He talked about the great themes - that he had preached and talked about - all through his trips through Palestine.

Life is all about being last - being the servant of all - washing feet - providing bread and wine - food for others - proclaiming what life is all about - saying to each other, “This is my body, this is my blood, I giving it to you, I’m being poured out in love for you.”

Do that yourselves in memory of me.

That Holy Thursday evening he needed his disciples to pray with him - at least for an hour - in the garden - but they didn’t get it - they still didn’t get what Jesus was about.  They were still sleeping.

That Holy Thursday evening he experienced betrayal by a kiss - when Judas arrived with those who gave him 30 pieces of silver - and Jesus was handed over - dragged away for trial - a scene we’ve seen on TV and news clips a hundred thousand million times ever since - from Calvary to Auschwitz to Tijuana.

That Holy Thursday evening Jesus experienced the crown of suffering - that would lead to his death - but we know the rest of the story: Easter - the rising - the being lifted up of Jesus - up out of the tomb.

This Holy Thursday morning I’ll close with our reading from Hebrews once again, “We see Jesus crowned  with glory and honor because he suffered death, that through God’s gracious will he might taste death for the sake of all.” 
April 13, 2017


I know the word, but I don’t remember
anyone ever being called, “lenient”.

“Lefty,” “Liberal”, yes, but “lenient” no.

Yet, come to think about it, who of us
wouldn’t mind being called, “Lenient”?

That’s the father of the Prodigal Son.
That’s Jesus on the cross. “Forgive them…”

That’s my hope when I come out of
my tomb and walk my way into heaven.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

April 12, 2017


Coming over a hill,
coming around a curve,
all I could see were trees,
fences, roads, cows, homes,
and a bridge and a church in
the distance…. enough to get
me to - where I know I have to go -
and the church is still a bridge -
even with the scandals and the
nonsense - in the landscape of
my mind.  Christ, thank you, for
being both bridge and church to me.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

April 11, 2017

So many sounds
in the distance:

Train whistles ….
Boat horns ….
Ambulances screaming ….
Someone playing a guitar ….
A baby crying ….
Birds singing ….

God’s tears ….
A mother crying ….
A home run at the ballpark ….
Prayers ….
Worries ….
A shouting, “Hey, I love you ….”

So many sounds
in my ears.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Monday, April 10, 2017



Before we get to the paintings, there are two places in the New Testament where someone has the name of Lazarus:

                  Luke 16: 19-31

                 John 11: 1 to 12:11

Read each text before looking at the pictures.


Here's the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 in the New International Version (NIV)

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 

20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 

23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 

24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 

26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family,28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”


Here's the story of the Death of Lazarus and other stories in the mix of that story in the gospel of John 11: 1 to 12:11.

This is also the New International Version (NIV).

The Death of Lazarus

11: 1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.

(This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.)

So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.

So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light.10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.”

Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Jesus Comforts the Sisters of Lazarus

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.

Now Bethany was less than two miles [b] from Jerusalem,19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother.

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you."

When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him.

Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him.

When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and trouble.

“Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

Jesus wept.

Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father,I thank you that you have heard me.

I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”

The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

The Plot to Kill Jesus

45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.

Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs.

If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”

Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all!

You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.

So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

54 Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.

55 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover.

They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?”

But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him.

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead.

A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate[a] with him.

Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar[b]of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.

But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said,“That perfume was worth a year’s wages.[c] It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.

Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial.

You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

When all the people[d] heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead.

Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, 11 for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them[e] and believed in Jesus.


First Lazarus the Beggar at the door of the rich man:

The Rich Man and Lazarus
by John Everett Millais (1829-1896)
on display at Harvard College

Lazarus the Beggar, 
by Fedor Bronnikov, 1886.

by Laura Jeanne Grimes

Lazarus and the Rich Man, copyright, 2006, by Slavujac

Lazarus and the Rich Man
copywright, 2006 ,  Slavujac

The Rich Man and Lazarus
by John Kohan

James Janknegt, 
Lazarus and the Rich Man

Lazarus and the Rich Man,
Hampton Road Church


Second: Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary and Friend of Jesus, whom Jesus raised from the dead.



The title of my homily for this Monday in Holy Week  is, “One Question for Lazarus.”


We heard in today’s gospel that lots of people - a large crowd of people - came to Bethany - to the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus - to see Jesus - but I dare say, probably more - to see Lazarus - whom Jesus brought back from the dead.

My question: if you could ask Lazarus one question, what would it be?

Now the details of his story is only in one gospel, John’s gospel, in chapters 11 and 12. His name is mentioned 14 times there - and that’s it. Lazarus: the brother of Martha and Mary; the friend of Jesus.


However, there is the other Lazarus in the 16th Chapter of the gospel of Luke - who also dies - and we find out a lot more about what happens after death to him - than the real life Lazarus in the gospel of John.

This Luke is mentioned 5 times all in that 16th chapter of Luke.

Luke’s story is a parable. John’s story is history - Biblical history.


We don’t know if anyone asked the gospel of John’s Lazarus any questions. I would assume everyone who had a chance asked him, “What did you see in the next life?” “What was it like?” “Did you meet people?”  “Did you meet people whom you knew - people like your parents?”  “Hey, you were in the grave 4 days”  and the ever practical Martha said, “By now he has to be  stinking big time.” “Did you stink? Were you starting to decay? What was that like?”

What would be your one question, if you could ask Lazarus one question?

Would you ask, “Did you see God?”

Would you ask, “Do people have  bodies?” If they don’t, would you then ask a follow up question, “If they don’t have bodies, how do you see or know what’s what, what’s going on in the life after death?”

In the gospel of Luke, Chapter 16,  with the story - the parable  - of the other Lazarus, we have bodies and the visual. We have a big gap or chasm in between Hades - the down below - that is all flames, fire, to the up above, the bosom of Abraham.  The selfish, the self-centered rich man is dying of thirst down below and he finally spots the man he never spotted before, Lazarus, the poor man, now in the bosom of Abraham.

The Rich Man - he doesn’t have a name, some have called him Dives - asks two questions of Abraham. He makes two requests.

First, “Could Lazarus dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.” Abraham says, “Sorry you had your chance while on earth - besides there is no bridge from there to here.”  The rich man changes.

Surprise. The rich man changes. He thinks of others. It’s  his brothers. he starts thinking about. He asks Abraham a second question: if he could send Lazarus to his brothers and warn them before they die to do for others, so that they don’t end up here in torment.”

“Nope,” says Abraham. “They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them.”

It’s a great dialogue. The rich man yells back, “No, Father Abraham, but if someone comes back from the dead, they will repent.”

Once more Abraham says, “If they will not listen to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.”

So that’s the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.


Now let me get back to the story of Lazarus in today’s gospel from John.

Did people ask great questions and make great comments to Lazarus?

Would we ask, “Did you get a glimpse of heaven - as well as - a glimpse of hell?”


So that’s my homily for today.

I’m asking you to come up with one question you would ask someone who has come back from the dead - dead for 4 days.

Obviously the big message is: Jesus rose from the dead - some listened to him and some didn’t. Do we?

Some people are like the rich man or like Judas - who also didn’t care about anyone but himself? That’s hell here - and hereafter I assume.

Some people are like Mary and Martha - who were concerned about  others. That’s heaven here - and I assume afterwards. 


Painting on top: Vincent Van Gogh, The Raising of Lazarus. [1889-1890]
APRIL 10, 2017


Misfits feel like they don’t fit ….
And others let them know it ….

They find themselves on the out ….
So they want to scream and shout ….

Nervous - can I sit here?
Wondering - or should I sit there?

Solution - we misfits need to find each other.
Solution - we misfits need to fit together.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017