Fourth Sunday of Easter (B)
April 21, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.



Rite of Sprinkling




First Reading ACTS 4:8-12

While Peter and John were speaking to the people about the resurrection of Jesus, the captain of the temple arrested them and placed them in custody. The next day the rulers, elders and scribes assembled. 7 When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. 11 “This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ 12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29

R/. The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.

Second Reading  1 JN 3:1-2

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

Alleluia JN 10:14

Gospel JN 10:11-18

Jesus said to the Pharisees: 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away— and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

Catena Nova

In many passages we are told of the joy with which the Shepherd will come from heaven to recall his wandering sheep to life-giving pastures – sheep who have grown weak and sick through feeding on noxious weeds. Enter his gates, says the psalmist, giving thanks. Praise is the only way to enter the gates of faith. Let us enter his courts to the accompaniment of song, declaring his greatness, praising and blessing his holy name. It is through that name that we are saved, it is at the sound of that name that all in heaven and on earth and beneath the earth shall bend the knee, and every creature confess his love for the Lord his God. The Lord is gracious; his mercy endures for ever. Truly his mercy entitles him to be called gracious, since it is because of his compassion alone that he has cancelled the bitter sentence passed upon the whole world. Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. (St Peter Chrysologus)
For the sake of his flock the shepherd was sacrificed as though he were a sheep. He did not refuse death; he did not destroy his executioners as he had the power to do, for his passion was not forced upon him. He laid down his life for his sheep of his own free will.  “I have the power to lay it down,” he said, “and I have the power to take it up again.” .... By his passion he made atonement for our evil passions, by his death he cured our death, by his tomb he robbed the tomb, by the nails that pierced his flesh he destroyed the foundations of hell. Death held sway until Christ died. The grave was bitter, our prison was indestructible, until the shepherd went down and brought to his sheep, confined there, the good news of their release. His appearance among them gave them a pledge of their resurrection and called them to a new life beyond the grave. To him be glory and power for ever. Amen (Basil of Seleucia).
In feeding us this shepherd gives himself to us. Christ came among us and, so to speak, became so close to us as to be permeated by all that is ours—except sin. He took our life and then took us into his own life so that we would be transformed into him. We don’t just feed on Christ; we remove our-selves—let him remove us, from our old selves and take upon ourselves the qualities of Christ. We slowly become one with our Shepherd. In reality, after his human birth, he feeds us from his spirit and his flesh. As Scripture says, “We wait upon you that you many give us our nourishment at the right time”. He continues to rain nourishment upon us even after ascending to the Heavenly Father. In a thousand secret and marvelous ways Christ gives himself to us and makes that gift our food of transformation. As on earth he feeds us, so in heaven he will still be our shepherd. There he will leads us as a shepherd leads sheep to pasture and we, as his sheep, will live for endless centuries, for eternity, rejoicing in the gift of his own life. Christ is our shepherd and our pasture. What he has already given us only foreshadows what is to come.  (Luis de Leon)


All we are trying to do is be one with Jesus, to reproduce his life in our own, to proclaim his teaching from the rooftops in our thoughts, words, and actions, to let him rule and live in us. He comes into us so frequently in the Holy Eucharist—may he establish his Kingdom within us! If he gives us joys, we should accept them gratefully: the Good Shepherd gives us such sweet grasses to strengthen us and make us fit to follow him later along dry pathways. If he gives us crosses, we should embrace them. To be given a cross is the best grace of all: it is to walk hand-in-hand with Jesus more closely than ever, to relieve him by carrying his cross for him, as Simon of Cyrene did…. Every cross, great or small, every discomfort even, is an appeal from our Beloved, asking us to declare our love and go on doing so while the cross lasts (St. Charles de Foucauld).

I want Jesus to be your intimate friend, to whom you may entrust your heart, tired and filled with sorrow. Who can fathom the intensity, the torrent of worries pouring over you as can our Lord who delves into our deepest hearts, and with delicate touch can touch those painful wounds whose depths even we ourselves don’t understand? Oh how your life would be transformed if you went to him often as to a friend! Can you be thinking Jesus won’t want to welcome you as a friend? If that’s what you thought, it would be a sign you don’t know him. Jesus is all tenderness, all love for his sinful creatures. He dwells in the tabernacle with his heart open to receive us, waiting for our arrival that he may console us. How many times have you yourself told me how happy you’ve felt receiving Communion! That’s because at that moment your soul, free from all its burdens, felt the presence of its God, the only One who can satisfy us. And besides, why fear going to Our Lord, when he himself told us that he is the Good Shepherd, that he was laying down his own life to ransom the lost sheep? And he said he would go in search of one sinner. So…all of us, despite our being sinners, can draw near to him. We’re his children who must put our trust in his Heart, full of fatherly tenderness (St. Teresa of the Andes).

Is it true that people recognize Christ's call and respond to it? In one sense it must be, for he has said so; yet much in me qualifies the statement. Actually I respond much more readily to the call of 'the others'; I neither really understand Christ's summons nor follow it. Therefore, in order that I may hear, he must not only speak, but also open my ears to his voice. Part of me, the profoundest part, listens to it, but superficial, loud contradiction often overpowers it. The opponents with whom God must struggle in order to win us are not primarily ‘the others,’ but ourselves; we bar his way. The wolf who puts the hireling to flight is not only outside; he is also within. We are the arch-enemy of our own salvation, and the Shepherd must fight first of all with us – for us (Romano Guardini). 
At first signs of danger, the shepherd can’t run and leave the sheep fend for themselves. I heard about a couple groups of nuns in Nicaragua that left during the fighting and later wanted to go back. The people asked them where were you when we needed you? They couldn’t stay and were forced to leave. I don’t want that to happen to me. I have too much of my life invested here to run (Bl. Stanley Rother).



     Now that I belong to AARP, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons, I get their monthly Bulletin. The cover story for the April issue screamed "Fraud 2024" — all about the variety of scammers out there ready to defraud older Americans who, it says, "are under siege."  One of these scams is called "voice printing" whereby, "Through technological advances, thieves can capture a recording of your voice and then use a software program to generate an imitation 'deepfake' version that lets them impersonate you."  Scammers will often call your bank and request a transfer of funds to an account they control.  The article goes on to warn seniors, "Accept that the days of phone conversations with anyone other than family or close friends are coming to an end" (AARP Bulletin, April, 2024, 11). Which begs the obvious question, "And what if they too have been voice printed?"  To whose voice can we possible listen with confidence? 
     And that includes, by the way, the voice of Christ.  For the authentic voice of Jesus is voice printed all the time, no?  By those who presume to speak in his name often enough to push a political agenda they are very sure accords with his mind and intentions.  For example, a spate of books has appeared lately about the rise of "Christian nationalism," among Evangelicals.  The New York Times Best-sellers list features one such title called The False White Gospel by Jim Wallis.
     Now for those who eschew the intrusion of politics into religion — and preaching! — I like to point out how the Creed does so every time we recite it with the words "under Pontius Pilate."  In other words, we are reminded that the redemption of the human race occurred precisely because of a collusion between religion and politics, both of which exercised coercive control, including violence, over their subjects.  The Creed, in other words, alerts us to the inherent dangers in power by whomever and with whatever authority is is wielded — including the Catholic counterpart to nationalism called "integralism." 
     Terrence Sweeney, reviewing Kevin Vallier's work on integralism describes it as follows: "the state exists to direct people to their natural good; that the Church is a polity ordering people to their supernatural good; and that the Church, therefore, ought to have indirect power over the state to direct people to their supernatural good…The two polities, Church and state, remain separate, but the Church directs the state where needed to promote the Catholic faith." (Terrence Sweeney, "Integralism's False Promise: In search of a politics that enables the good," Commonweal; February 6, 2024;  


     By now, more than a few alarm bells should be going off as the ghosts of Caiaphas and Pilate rear their heads or, if you prefer, the Plymouth Colony and Christendom, the successor to the Roman Empire.  As Sweeney went on to warn, this "would require dramatic actions of coercion to overcome the majority of Americans who would passionately oppose an integralist state….they would establish an unstable regime torn between the rival powers of Church and state…and split between those who support the regime and the majority who do not. The use of force would be required not only to install such a regime but also to maintain it….no one ends up good in this scenario. Everyone will be a member of an isolated and oppressed group or of an isolated and oppressive group." So much for the other sheep that do not belong to this fold (G)!
     But more to the point, we would be forgetting John's reminder that the world does not know us [just as] the world did not know [Christ] (cf. II).  Which is why Sweeney ends his article with the statement, "the Christian task in a time of diminished religious practice is not planning a political takeover. It is evangelizing a world weary of the political and perhaps open to the good news of a Kingdom that operates differently from all the kingdoms of the world….nothing less than such a vision will blunt integralism’s growing appeal" — or that of Christian nationalism and its opportunistic supporters.
     So in the incessant din of these politically charged months, in this age of fake news, alternative facts, disinformation and conspiracy theories, the instrument designed for speaking truth — the voice — will often enough be subject to printing,  and may well serve as a vehicle of deceit.
     Still, we long for a voice that is true.  One that is pure.  A voice we can follow with confidence: unconcerned that a hired hand might be masquerading as a shepherd, or a wolf may be lurking beneath sheep’s clothing.  Problem is we’re not trained to recognize such a voice.  We can have a tin ear when it comes to knowing a genuine voice from a counterfeit one. So reliable voices often go unperceived -- and we deceived.  We chase after voices in the wind, vanishing voices, that sooner or later disappoint and betray the trust we place in them.  But we continue looking: maybe a fresh voice will bring us what we seek.  Maybe.
     But why should Christ be the one true, noble and good shepherd of God’s people, who speaks with a certain voice we should recognize?  Because he lays down his life for the sheep and, for them, takes it up again. (Cf. G)  He's no hired hand, caring first for himself and then for others, if at all. He's no thief, who would rob us of our trust and then abandon us.  Nor is he a liar who speaks one thing while cloaking another.  No, his concern is only for us. And that is why his sheep will hear [his] voice (G).  But only if their ears are tuned to its sound and not those of this world — with its false values, siren songs, and Antichrists.  For this world is passing away, and with it all that is fleeting.  What remains is Christ, who leads us to a pasture where we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (II), in the light of God’s presence, forever and ever.  Amen.


Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the Church: that we may distinguish the voice of the Good Shepherd from all the other messages that we hear and faithfully respond to all Christ’s invitations.

For bishops, priests, and all who minister in the Church: that they may draw strength and inspiration from the Good Shepherd, model in word and deed Christ’s dedication to the children of God, and serve their communities with the heart of the Good Shepherd.

For all who are laying down their lives in caring for sick children, the developmentally disabled, the elderly, or terminally ill: that God will renew them and fill them with energy and love.

For greater stewardship of the earth: that God will inspire us to care for God’s creation and ensure that it benefits all of God’s children.

For all run-away teens: that the Good Shepherd will care for them and lead them to a place of safety and healing.

For children in dangerous situations: that God will protect the children at the border, those who live in areas of warfare and violence, or whose home life is unsafe from harm and injury.

For leaders of nations: that God will give them a heart like the Good Shepherd, compassion toward those who are suffering, and wisdom to develop policies that advance the common good.

For an end to violence: that the Good Shepherd will protect all of God’s children from random shootings, domestic violence, hate crimes, and acts of terrorism.

God of lasting love, fulfil your plan of salvation to gather into one fold the peoples of the whole world. Let everyone on earth recognise your Christ as the Good Shepherd,  who freely lays down his life for all to take it up again in power. Grant this through Christ our Lord.  Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Antiphon

Offertory Hymn (Henry W. Baker)


The King of love my shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am his
And he is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow,
My ransomed soul he leadeth
And, where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.

Thou spredst a table in my sight;
Thine unction grace bestoweth;
And, oh, what transport of delight
From thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never.
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
Within thy house forever.

Communion Antiphon


Closing Hymn (Henry J. van Dyke)

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!
All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heav’n reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.
Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living,
Ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother,
All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine.
Mortals, join the happy chorus,
Which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us,
Brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward
In the triumph song of life.