Fifth Sunday of Easter (B)
April 28, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.



Rite of Sprinkling





Almighty ever-living God,
constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us,
that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism
may, under your protective care, bear much fruit
and come to the joys of life eternal.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading ACTS 9:26-31

When Saul had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus Saul had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul went in and out among them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He spoke and argued with the Hellenists; but they were attempting to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of it, they brought Saul down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. 31 Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

Responsorial Psalm PS 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32

R/. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.

Second Reading 1 JN 3:18-24

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. 19 And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him 20 whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and God knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; 22 and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases God. 23 And this is God’s commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.

Alleluia JN 15:4A, 5B

Gospel JN 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples: 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 “Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

Catena Nova

If branches are attached to a vine, it is not to confer any advantage on the vine; it is rather that the branches themselves may draw their sustenance from the vine. The vine is attached to the branches to provide them with their vital nourishment, not to receive anything from them.... If a branch is cut off, another can grow from the life-giving root; but once severed from the root no branch can remain alive.... Little fruit or plenty, there can be neither without him, because without him nothing can be done. Even if a branch does produce a little fruit, the vinedresser prunes it away so that it may produce more. But if the branch does not remain attached to the vine and draw its life from the root, it can bear no fruit at all (St. Augustine of Hippo).

By receiving the Holy Spirit, who is the bond of union between us and Christ our Savior, those who are joined to him, as branches are to a vine, share in his own nature.... The proof that we are living in him and he is living in us is that he has given us a share in his Spirit. Just as the trunk of the vine gives its own natural properties to each of its branches, so, by bestowing on them the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, the only-begotten Son of the Father, gives Christians a certain kinship with himself and with God the Father because they have been united to him by faith and determination to do his will in all things. He helps them to grow in love and reverence for God, and teaches them to discern right from wrong and to act with integrity (St. Cyril of Alexandria).

You, then, are my workers. You have come from me, the supreme eternal gardener, and I have engrafted you onto the vine by making myself one with you.  Keep in mind that each of you has your own vineyard.  But everyone is joined to the neighbors’ vineyards without any dividing lines.  They are so joined together, in fact, that you cannot do good or evil for yourself without doing the same for your neighbors. (St. Catherine of Siena)
I view my whole self, soul and body both and, not just my soul, as the one vine that I may not neglect but must dig about it and cultivate it, to prevent it being overrun by unwelcome weeds and by the roots of other plants, or be smothered by its own offshoots. Pruned, it must be or it will grow wild: trimmed so that it may yield more fruit. It must be altogether enclosed. fenced-in, or every passer-by will freely plunder it; the greatest danger of all, being that the wild boar from the thickets. … may ravage it (cf. Ps 79:14). To sum all this up briefly – it must be cultivated with the greatest care, otherwise the noble shoots of this choice vine, will go to seed, will turn into a worthless vine and, far from delighting both God and man (cf. Ps 103:15), may only succeed in saddening both of them.  (Bl. Isaac of Stella)

Jesus declares he is not only united to his disciples but is one with them. Jesus is the source of the disciples’ life and calls them to form one single organism with him. Jesus is no longer viewing himself as an individual but as a living collective that is a perfect unity. All regenerated humanity is part of this organism.... It is only through Jesus that the vine, the Church, can thrust roots into the depths of the divine life and ensure that the divine life and love find their way to the farthest branches. Jesus is the source and the branches must draw from the life-spring in him.... The organic unity between Christ and his own has only one fruit, the union of love.... (Louis Bouyer).

The prophets in the Old Testament used the image of the vine to describe the chosen people. Israel is God’s vine, the Lord’s own work, the joy of his heart....John the Evangelist invites us to go further and leads us to discover the mystery of the vine: it is the figure and symbol not only of the People of God, but of Jesus himself. He is the vine and we, his disciples, are the branches. He is the “true vine”, to which the branches are engrafted to have life (cf. Jn 15:1 ff.)....Through the Church we abide in Christ, without whom we can do nothing (Jn 15:1-5)”. The Church herself, then, is the vine in the gospel (Pope St. John Paul II).

When you’re connected, there are no coincidences anymore. Synchronicities, coincidences, accidents and “providences” just keep happening. Union realigns you with everything, and things just start happening. I cannot explain the “chemistry” of it all. Some people call it “the secret.” All I know is that “the branch cut off from the vine is useless” (John 15:5), yet on the vine it bears much fruit (15:5, 7). The True Self is endlessly generative, in touch with its Source; the false self is fragile, needy and insecure (Richard Rohr).



     Tired of all the polls?   Who's up and who's down?  Looks like Pope Francis is down.  The Pew Research Center reported recently that while three-quarters of U.S. Catholics view him positively — an enviable margin, to say the least — that figure is nevertheless down 8 percentage points from 2021.  Not surprisingly, the loss of support falls along partisan lines and reflects the growing polarization between Catholics who identify with one or the other major political part: 90% favorable in one case and 63% in the other — you can guess which is which.  "The partisan gap in views of Pope Francis is as large as it's ever been in our surveys," noted the the Center in its April 12 report. (
     Now such things are nothing new.  Imagine the polarized views of St. Paul such a survey would reveal if taken in the early church.  At one time, Paul was convinced the followers of Jesus were a dangerous sect that ought to be stamped out through any and all means.  Then he “flipped,” although some who remembered him from his days of persecuting the church continued to hold him in suspicion, not believing that he was a disciple (I).  But things didn't change even after his conversion.  Paul then had to contend with those from inside the church who thought he was preaching a false gospel.  All kinds of people thought he was an impostor since he admitted Gentile converts to the faith without demanding they embrace the Law of Moses.  It was the first conservative versus progressive controversy to make Christians distrustful of each others’ “orthodoxy.”
     John’s community also knew divisions.  And his emphasis on the importance of love makes one think the divisions ran deep as when he wrote, Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth….this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth (cf. II).   
     Which brings us back to the here and now.  Pope Francis has often mentioned division and polarization in today’s church.  During his homily when he made Joe Tobin (that's what he asked me to call him when I met him) of Newark a cardinal the Pope said, “The virus of polarization and animosity permeates our way of thinking, feeling and acting,” adding how “we are not immune from this and we need to take care lest such attitudes find a place in our hearts.”  Reminiscent of those places in the New Testament where Paul and his opponents engaged in unbecoming hostility, Francis went on to say, “With people we consider our opponents or enemies, our first instinctive reaction … is to dismiss, discredit or curse them. Often we try to ‘demonize’ them, so as to have a ‘sacred’ justification for dismissing them.”
     Then there's the apostolic nuncio to the United States, Cardinal Pierre, who in a recent lecture he gave at Loyola University in Chicago said, "a Christianity configured as a political ideology, focused mostly on the definition of moral norms, and training 'cultural warriors' for the defense of orthodoxy…. does not correspond to the aspirations of the human heart….The institutional church must guard against rigidity, against becoming crystallized in forms that obscure the discernment necessary for effective pastoral action…. The church is not unanimity; it's communion…. Communion is being able to work together with our differences" (April 11, 2024).
     This, of course, is what liess behind Pope Francis' hope for the Synod of Bishops on the topic of "synodality" whose second session will be held in October.  Speaking of his experience during last October's the first session, Cardinal Gregory of Washington noted how, ''Whenever I've experienced the church in true dialogue and open conversation, that's synodality. Whenever the church gathers and everyone feels respected and can open their hearts, that's synodality …. One of the things that would foster better listening skills is, don't enter the conversation with the conclusion. If you start a conversation with a conclusion, you're not going to be open to hearing what the other people might say." ("A Listening Church in a Divided Nation"; February 28, 2024).
     (Quoting all these cardinals must be because early spring is the season for the other kind — the one with wings!)
     So in these fractious times – and I am as infected with the virus of polarization corroding my soul as anyone – when passion for the truth often outstrips charity, perhaps Jesus’ image of the Vine and branches might help remove some of the blight that threatens the vintage.  For a healthy vine puts out innumerable branches and a productive vineyard grows several types of grape.  And the wines they produce appeal to different tastes.  While the Meal we are about to enjoy allows for them all.  Where the winepress has brought forth a blessing-cup filled with that Blood flowing through the one Body of Christ which unites even those who are otherwise poles apart.
Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the Church: that we may continually draw life from Christ and bear a rich harvest of virtues and Gospel values for God’s glory.

For all who are experiencing pruning through loss, transition, or change: that God will give them strength, guide them, and help them find courage and support through fellow believers.

For those entering retirement: that they may find new ways to use their gifts and share their learned wisdom with younger generations.

For all who are ill: that Christ the source of all life will ease their pain, heal their illness, and restore them to their loved ones.

For Christians facing persecution: that God will give them strength, wisdom to overcome obstacles, and the grace to forgive their persecutors.

For all who are considering suicide: that God will open them to the beauty of life, free them from self-condemnation, and help them to recognize the love that others have for them.

For an end to violence in our communities: that God will turn hearts from destructive deeds, open pathways for dialogue, and protect the innocent from harm.

O God, you graft us onto Christ, the true vine,  and, with tireless care,  you nurture our growth in knowledge and reverence. Tend the vineyard of your Church, that in Christ each branch may bring forth to the glory of your name abundant fruits of faith and love. Grant this through Christ our Lord.  Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Antiphon

Offertory Hymn (John Michael Talbot)


I am the vine
And you are the branches
Live in me
And you will never die.

I am the vine
And my father is the keeper
Come to me
Let the Spirit bring you life.

Like a tree planted by the living waters
To stretch the fruits into the living stream
You will show no distress
In the heat of the drought
But still bear fruits and leaves?

Come to me all you heavy laden
My yoke is easy, my burden is light.
I will raise you up on the wings of an eagle.
And through God mountain will fly.

Come to me
Let the spirit bring you life.

Communion Antiphon


Closing Hymn

The day of resurrection!
Earth, tell it out abroad;
the passover of gladness,
the passover of God.
From death to life eternal,
from earth unto the sky,
our Christ hath brought us over,
with hymns of victory.

Our hearts be pure from evil,
that we may see aright
the Lord in rays eternal
of resurrection light;
and listening to his accents,
may hear, so calm and plain,
his own "All hail!" and, hearing,
may raise the victor strain.

Now let the heavens be joyful!
Let earth the song begin!
Let the round world keep triumph,
and all that is therein!
Let all things seen and unseen
their notes in gladness blend,
for Christ the Lord hath risen,
our joy that hath no end.