Saturday, May 6, 2017

May 6, 2017


It’s in the details. Looking the other
in the eye.... The follow up call.... 
Making sure the back door is locked....
Sweeping up the mess.... Saying 
“Thank you” - as well as, “I’m sorry!” 

Some say, “The devil is in the details.”  
Some say, “God is in in details.” 
I’d say, “It’s us. We're the ones who
are in the details, and we're the ones who need to take care of the details.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Friday, May 5, 2017


If you have time, check out the Internet for visiting art galleries and for studying paintings. Here's the class for today: Edward Hopper.1882-1967.

 May 5, 2017


Sometimes when people can’t sleep
or the conversations going on are
re-runs - or the television is the same,
people start to listen to the old voices
in the room: “I love you!” -  “Can I get
you a drink?” - “Remember when mom
used to tease you about your inability
to walk the dog with your yo-yo?” -
“I’m sorry…. I don’t know if I can stay
the course with you. I just don’t know.” -
“How old is this house?”  - “Oh, I think
it was built around 1923.” - “Wow, imagine
all the past voices lingering in this room?”

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017
Picture on Top: Hotel by a Railroad,
Edward  Hopper 1952

May 5, 2017

Make a wish and 
blow out the candle.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Forger - Video -
Oct 2, 2016
As a teenager, Adolfo Kaminsky saved thousands of lives byforging passports to help children flee the Nazis 

I put the above at the end of a blog piece I did for April 27, 2017.

This  piece called, "The Forger" is  from The New York Times 

It could be missed - and I think everyone should view it.

So I'm putting The Forger up front.

As the dentist says, "Tap Tap!"

Tap the box to view the video.

Take the time to watch this piece 10 times.

Each time you'll see something new!

What am I doing for others today?

May 4, 2017


Our daily landscape or landscope
affects and effects us everyday….
The pause, the look, the scanning
of the morning sky as we step out
to our outside…. It’s a new day today.

Jesus said to see the birds of the air
and the lilies of the field, fig trees and
fruit trees and what’s going on in the
marketplace. See the funeral going by.
It could be a widow’s only son.

And make sure we see Lazarus
at our door - as well as the poor -
and the child who needs our attention.
Listen to those - nobody listens to….
Touch the lives - of the Untouchables.

See the broken bread people. Look
into their eyes. Have a  sense of the
rich red blood of Jesus - like wine -
flowing through the stories of
each person we meet today. "Hi!"

Bring them all home this evening as
we celebrate supper with each other.
Let us pray with and for them before we
fall asleep at the end of our day and we
turn off the lights of our daily landscape.

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Wednesday, May 3, 2017



The title of my thoughts for today is, “Two New Testament Characters Named Philip.”

Today is the feast day of the first one - Philip the Apostle - and the second is Philip in the Acts of the Apostles - called, “Philip the Evangelist.”

I going to talk about both of them because both of them brought people to Jesus. I’m skipping James - the other person in today’s feast day. There are supposedly 3 James in the Early Church mix of characters.

I would like to stress that that’s our call: to bring people to Jesus.


Philip the Apostle gets some unique recognition in the Gospel of John.

In Chapter One of John he’s is called by Jesus - meets him - follows Jesus. His first step is to head for Nathaniel and bring him to Jesus.

The Philip-Nathanael situation goes a bit like Andrew meeting Jesus and then bringing his brother Peter to Jesus.

This Philip is from the same town as Peter and Andrew and their stories begin with the moment they meet Jesus.

It seems in John - when someone meets Jesus they want to tell others about Jesus. They want to introduce other people to Jesus.

Then in Chapter 14 of the Gospel of John, it’s Philip who is approached by some Greeks who want to meet Jesus. Then Philip does the introduction. And notice in this Chapter 14 story about Philip - which is today’s gospel - Andrew’s name shows up in the mix and the  meeting as well.
And notice Philip asks Jesus to show him the Father - which is a major theme in the Gospel of John.

If you want good stuff for prayer, it’s right there - wanting to meet Jesus and wanting to know what the Father is like and who He is.

Ask for that in prayer.


And in the Acts of the Apostles we have the so called, “Philip the Evangelist.”

He does the same thing that Philip the Apostle does - this bringing someone to Jesus.

This Philip runs into an Ethiopian - a eunuch and an officer in the court of the Queen of Ethiopia.  He’s the chief treasurer.  He’s in a chariot. He’s on his way home. And he’s reading the prophet Isaiah.

And Philip gets the inspiration to run over to the chariot and ask the occupant if he knows what he’s reading. “Do you understand?”

And the Ethiopian gives the great answer, “How can I understand, unless I have someone to guide me?”

That scene becomes the name of a good book on Bible reading: Unless Some Man Show Me [1962]. It’s by Alexander Jones.

The Ethiopian invites Philip to get into the chariot and Philip introduces this man to Jesus and surprise he baptizes him right then and there when they go by some water - along the road.

I wonder if that quick baptism enters into some Early Church discussions about when to baptize.

I love the line, “And the eunuch never saw him again but went away rejoicing.”


We’re called to introduce people to Jesus.

Think about the people who got you to visit Jesus in the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel or any church - or the people who ran Bible study programs - say on Isaiah - and introduced you to Jesus.

I think of all the places I preached  - where I preached to a lot of people I never saw again.  I also think of all the people who gave me Jesus.


This is getting too long, so let me close with a quick example.

I was about to take a 3 hour car ride, so I looked for something for the car tape system. This was before CD’s.

I grabbed a cassette I had not listened to in 25 years.  Surprise. As I’m listening to it - I hear this great example - that I used in a sermon - but I thought it was my idea - that I was original.

Surprise I stole it without knowing it.

I just noticed in yesterday’s news that Marine La Pen  in France is being accused of plagiarizing parts of a speech by Francois Fillon.

Having discovered I borrowed something from someone else, without realizing it, I have sympathy.  Let’s plagiarize the Word of God, the word made flesh, Jesus Christ. Then let us bring Jesus to others. Amen. 
May 3, 2017


There’s different ways to approach
one’s father - and every kid ought
to know the games they play - that
they approach their parents differently -
depending on the time of day - what
the issue is - and what have you.

So too how we approach teachers, spouses,
friends,  coaches, the boss and our God.
But the biggest learning is to learn
that there are different approaches.
Could I have done this better? Could I
have asked: “Dad what's going on with you?" 

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Tuesday, May 2, 2017



Today is the feast of Saint Athanasius - so a few words about him on his feast day - May 2nd.  

His dates are 295 to May 2, 373 - 78 years of life. Nice....

He’s born in Alexandria, Egypt - which had a lot of Christians in his time. It had a great catechetical school - and it was a central educational center. Numbers of Christians back then in that city - I’m not that scholarly.  Right now Egypt has 92 million people - 10% who are Christian.  270,000 are Catholics - and the pope went to see them a week ago or so. I was trying to find out if he went to Alexandria - where there was a bombing of a Coptic Church about 10 years ago. It looks like he just went to Cairo. I assume security was tough, tough stuff.

So Athanasius was Egyptian for starters - but he was part of the Egyptian culture of the 300’s.

In the Church - it was the time of trying to pull together the great teachings about Christ - and the Trinity.

Cardinal Newman - said that Athanasius was key in conveying further along the way,  “the sacred truths of Christianity.” 

The Christ born of Mary - the Christ who walked our roads - breathed our air - healed and helped people - the Christ crucified on the Cross - the Risen Christ of Easter -  was and always was, God and will always be God. So too the 3rd person in God - the Holy Spirit.

So our religion is all about hearing about, meeting God in person - in the 3 persons in the Holy Trinity.

Our religion has doctrines and creeds - but the key experience is to enter into a relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.


I’m sure you’ve heard in a dozen homilies the Orthodox as well as Eastern Catholic way of making the sign of the cross. These 3 fingers are brought together at their tips: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then the pinky and 4th finger are bent over - and the tips of those two fingers touch the palm of our hands. These 2 fingers symbolize the humanity and divinity of Christ.

So there it is at our finger tips as we make the sign of the cross - in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Cross my heart and hope to die.

Suggestion: that would be a good way to sit down in a quiet chair in our home or here at church - and enter into the Holy Trinity.


The main nemesis of Athanasius’ life was a priest name Arius - who almost destroyed Christianity. Arius dates are 256-336. He was from Libya - but settled in Alexandria for a while.  Arius  said that Jesus as God was not equal to God the Father - but born in time.

St. Athanasius stood up to Arius and anyone who did not see the 3 persons in the Trinity as equal and forever.

God is a Trinity - 3 persons, 1 God.

All 3 persons have always been - God.

All 3 persons are infinite

All 3 persons are equal - but distinct.

It is difficult - to get this - in fact we won’t - we are not God. 

Yet St. Athanasius said, “The Son of God became man so that we might become God.”


St. Athanasius was not killed - he was not a martyr - like Stephen in today's first reading from Acts 7: 51-8:1.  Yet he was persecuted and hunted. He went into exile 5 times because of his beliefs - and his standing up to those who denied the divinity of Jesus Christ.

As I was reading about this last night, I found out that one motive for Arius and others - was to simplify the idea of who Christ was.  Son means son - and sons come along in time. Well, Christ was son - the Son of God - but always being begotten by the Father.

That’s mystery - and we don’t get it.

But we have all eternity - now and for all eternity  to enter into God and get deeper and deeper into God.


So that's a few ideas about Athanasius. Type his name into Google and see where that takes you. 

May 2, 2017


Call-and-response - is the key
to religious services. God calls….
Do I respond? Do I raise my hand
and  say, “I am here - willing and able?”

Call-and-response - is the key
to relationships. The other calls….
Do I respond? Do I  raise my hand
and say, “I am here - willing and able?”

Call-and-response - is the key
to having a pet. I call "Sascha"
or "Snuggles" and they come running
and I say, “Here’s your bacon treat!”

Call-and-response - is the key
to life. The needy need. They call ….
Do I respond? Do I come running
and treat the world to all my gifts?

 © Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Monday, May 1, 2017

May 1st, 2017


The Bible has it right there
in the beginning.  You can look
it up in Genesis 2: 18,
“It’s not good to go it alone.”

Yet sometimes, life, it’s going it solo.
Spouses die and people disappear -
and sometimes one person discovers
they are the bottom line. It’s up to them.

Yet, sometimes we see fighter jets
with two seats, so too motorcycles,
so too duets - two people up there -
singing a song on stage together.

Solo or duet? Or is it: solo and duet?
I guess it all depends on the moment
or the situation, but I’ll go with idea,
“It’s not good to go it alone.”

© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017

Sunday, April 30, 2017

FOR  YOU….. 


The title of my homily is, “Opening the Scriptures for You….”

Today’s gospel - the story of the 2 disciples who were walking the 7 mile trip from Jerusalem to Emmaus - is a favorite gospel story for many. [Cf. Luke 24: 13-35]

The two  were followers of Jesus - but Jesus was arrested and killed - and it looked like their dream was over.  They were walking along talking and debating about Jesus - and without recognizing who he was -  a stranger on the road Jesus comes along and starts walking and talking along with them. He asks them what they were talking about - and they say, “Are you the only one who was in Jerusalem these past few days - and you don’t know what happened there?”

And Jesus says, “What sort of things?”

They blurted out to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene….” And they told the stranger - Jesus -  the whole story - how they hoped Jesus would redeem Israel.”

Then they tell this stranger about the rumors that there were reports that Jesus was alive - making appearances.

Susan R. Garrett

Then Jesus said to them, “Oh how foolish you are!”

Then Jesus told them all that was in the scriptures about himself.

Michael Torevell

They reached their destination and Jesus gave the impression he was continuing on the journey - but they urged Jesus, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”

They sat down at a table and Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them.
“With that,” the scriptures says, “their eyes were opened and they recognized him….”

Significant!  Significant!

It was then that Jesus vanished from their sight.

Then they said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures for us.”


In all your years of coming to church, who have been the preachers  who really opened up the scriptures for you?  Who were the preachers who opened up your tear ducts for you - when you were here at Mass?  Who have been the preachers  who helped you to see Jesus walking along with you in your life?

Wow, would I love to do that kind of preaching. 

I hope every preacher does.


Let me practice what I'm preaching. Sometimes - maybe 3 times since I’ve been here - something in a homily - something in the scriptures - hits me and there are tears. I don’t know if it hits anybody else.  And I have also looked out - from up here - at times - and it looks like something is hitting someone - and it looks like they are crying.

Church stuff - Jesus stuff - God stuff - hits all of us - hopefully down deep - inside - like that place we see in movies at times - behind and underneath a waterfall.  Back there…. In there …. underneath there.

And we preachers know - it’s not what we said, but it’s what the listener is talking to herself or himself  about - or what they are going through in their life at the time.

There was one priest in Brooklyn, who had a column in the Brooklyn Tablet, the Catholic newspaper, who wrote great columns on spirituality and the gospel. They would often get me thinking.  John Shea did that for me at times. He liked to retell the scriptures for the day in a modern story or retelling of the gospel for that day. I like to try that at times. [1]

I mention all this - because something like that hit these two disciples that evening - on their sad seven mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus.


There is a statement from the documents of the Second Vatican Council on the Liturgy that every priest and deacon has heard at least 10 times, “The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s Word.”  Then it continues, “In this way a more representative portion of the holy Scriptures will be read to the people over a set cycle of years.” [2]

That was stated in 1963 - and we have seen - better we have heard - much more of the Scriptures in the last 50 plus years.

I hope the homilies - and the sermons - have been better.

And the document on the Scriptures from that same Vatican Council - in  1965 - quotes St. Jerome, “For ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” [3]  His dates are 347-420, so he would have said that around 400 or so.

I hope - because of opening up of more of the Bible for us - has given all of us more knowledge of Jesus Christ.

I know I don’t preach enough on the first and second readings.

I also know Catholics certainly have opened up their Bibles and know the Bible a lot more because of the opening of new life for Catholics after the Second Vatican Council.

Before I was stationed here in St. Mary’s I worked out in Ohio - Pennsylvania - down South a bit - etc. etc. etc. preaching many, many parish missions and I noticed in many, many parishes, Bible study groups - like the one that takes place here.  Thank you Chris Cable and all those who do that. And I noticed that when Father Joe Krastel gave his talks on St. Paul - people showed up and sang his praises.

The founder of the Redemptorists, St. Alphonsus de Liguori, said, “The whole of our religion can be summed up in the practice of the love of Jesus Christ.”


In My Fair Lady, there is a song line, “By George,  I think she got it.”

It's a great movie - showing us how far a person can come till she finally gets it.

Life is growth - and we grow by glimpses.

I think I got a glimpse of how to open up the scriptures - so we all can get to know Jesus Christ better. I want to do what Jesus did for these 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus.

For starters, the disciples recognized Jesus in the Breaking of the Bread.

At Mass we break bread.  At  Mass we break words.

It’s called a meal. We have 3 of them a day: breakfast, lunch and supper.

Okay it varies.

Jesus chose a meal, a supper, his last supper with his disciples, and during that meal, he did two things.  He broke bread and he broke words.

When we sit down to eat, we break bread and we break words.

How was your day.  Can you pass me the bread. Can you pour me some wine.

If we don’t eat with each other, we will not have communion with each other.

If we can’t stand each other, we will not talk and listen to each other.  We won’t be able to stomach each other. We will not get strength from each other.

We will avoid eating with each other.

When teenagers start breaking away from the family, they stop eating with the family. When families start falling apart, they stop eating with each other. They are no longer called a Mass - the Mass of people called the Smithtonian Family. People have to eat, but when they eat on the run, in fast food places, or when they are in communion with a TV or someone 15 or 150  miles away on a phone with them, they have dropped out of the little church called the Jonestonian Family. So too we see how people drop out of church. They start dropping out of the Meal called the Mass.

For starters that’s how to read and understand the Scriptures and get Christ and be in communion with him.


Let me give 3 more ways to understand the scriptures.

First, the book of Genesis.  That’s the creation account and where we come from. Every human being has a creation account - where we started. Start talking to each other - inter generationally - where we come from and who the characters are - where the geography is, etc. Then look at Genesis the first book of the Bible. It tells about Roots. Read the Acts of the Apostles - our first reading for today. It tells us a good bit about how our church began.

Second, the books of the Prophets, who are our prophets. Who challenges us. Last night at Distinguished Alumni celebration of St. Mary’s High School, 4 people were honored. It was wonderful. All 4 told of their mentors, people who challenged them - to get them where they got to so far. Who are your mentors. Who has challenged you to get you to where you have gotten to. Then read the prophets.

Thirdly, Letters. what have been the letters of your life?  This might be disappearing with e-mail. But what have been the letters of your life. 

I love the story about my father writing love letters for 10 years from New York to Boston telling my mom he loved her and will you marry me. Finally the last letter worked with its message,  "If you don’t marry me, I will become an Irish Christian Brother." 

She wrote back, "Yes."

Thank God, otherwise I would not be standing here right now.  

What have been the significant letters that put you in your skin and your seat here today?  

Get that and you’ll get a bit of the letters in the Bible - especially why they saved the letters from St. Paul.




* Painting on top: Daniel Bonnell, Road to Emmaus

[1] John Shea, An Experience Named Spirit, The Thomas More Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1983

John Shea, Elijah at the Wedding Feast and Other Tales, Stories of the Human Spirit, Acta Publications, Chicago, Illionois, 1999

John Shea, Starlight, Beholding the Christmas Miracle All Year Long, Crossroad, New York, 1992

John Shea, The Spirit Master, The Thomas More Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1987

John Shea, Stories of God, Thomas More, A Division of Tabor, Allen, Texas, 1978, 1996

John Shea, Finding God Again, Spirituality for Adults, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Lanham, Boulder, New York, Toronto, Oxford, 2005

John Shea, Stories, Acta Publications, 2008

[2] Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium), page 155 in The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, S.J., Herder and Herder, Association  Press, 1966.

[3] Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, (Dei Verbi), page 127 in The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, S.J., Herder and Herder, Association Press, 1966.
April 30, 2017


Bread broken, sliced,
cut, shared, sitting
with you at this table,
sharing words, wine
and each other.
This is me.
This is my body
and if you betray me
in the night or crucify me
on some Bad Friday,
I’ll make it good with
forgiveness and love.
I’ll make it a Good Friday.
This is me. This is how I love
and how I want to eat with you,
how I want to be with you,
how I'll rise with you 
every Easter Sunday morning.


© Andy Costello, Reflections  2017