Sixth Sunday of Easter (B)
May 09, 2021
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.








Grant, almighty God,
that we may celebrate with heartfelt devotion these days of joy,
which we keep in honor of the risen Lord,
and that what we relive in remembrance
we may always hold to in what we do.
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 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48

When Peter entered, Cornelius met him
and, falling at his feet, paid him homage.
Peter, however, raised him up, saying,
"Get up. I myself am also a human being."

Then Peter proceeded to speak and said,
"In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him."

While Peter was still speaking these things,
the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word.
The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter
were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit
should have been poured out on the Gentiles also,
for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God.
Then Peter responded,
"Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people,
who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?"
He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

Responsorial Psalm PS 98:1, 2-3, 3-4

R/. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.

The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.

Second Reading 1 JN 4:7-10

Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

Alleluia JN 14:23


Gospel JN 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples:
"As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father's commandments
and remain in his love.

"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one's life for one's friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another."

[Here is the next section of Cardinal Tobin’s pastoral letter on the Eucharist]:

Our Holy Father Pope Francis has not been silent during this pandemic. He has continually spoken out urging us not to be afraid, to remain spiritually close to God and one another, to call on Mary, Mother of the Church, St. Joseph during this Holy Year of St. Joseph, and all the saints, and to remember those who are most in need, especially the poor, vulnerable and displaced members of the human family. Pope Francis has also warned us that the sin of indifference can be a far more deadly virus than COVID-19.

Our Holy Father reminds all of us who are in positions of co-responsible leadership and service in the Church, that we are simply “altar servers” for the Holy Spirit. We are not in control of situations like this pandemic that confront us — often without warning. Our job is to listen, pray, discern, stay close to the People of God, and decide without fear.

As baptized and confirmed Christians, we are called to accept humbly yet confidently the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Beginning with us bishops, we must seek to understand “what the Spirit is saying to the Churches” (cf. Rev. 2: 29). It is the Holy Spirit — not us — who gathers the Church together and makes reconciliation possible.

During the celebration of the Eucharist, there are two moments of epiclesis when the priest invokes the Holy Spirit, first to transform the bread and wine, then to transform those who will receive the Gift. We are servants of the Spirit and of the sacred mysteries which the Holy Spirit makes possible. Returning to Grace means handing ourselves over to the Spirit of God, who makes Christ present to us, and who transforms those of us who receive Him in the Holy Eucharist into the Body of Christ.

As I seek to understand what the Spirit is saying to us today, I trust that the prudent path we are pursuing here in the Archdiocese of Newark is the best available option. We are gradually reopening our churches, expanding our capacity and encouraging our people to return to in-person participation and the sacramental reception of the Eucharist. At the same time, we continue to make available live-streamed liturgies to those who are unable to join us in person. The day will come when the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days will be restored since the Eucharist is vital to our spiritual flourishing. Until that day, we must allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in helping those who cannot receive the Eucharist to encounter the person of Jesus in personal prayer, Scripture and in service to God’s people.

Catena Nova

Perfect friendship is friendship between those who are good and resemble one another according to virtue, for those who are alike in virtue wish one another good inasmuch as they are virtuous, and they are virtuous in themselves. But people who wish good to friends for their sake are the truest friends; they do this for the friends themselves, and not for something incidental (St. Thomas Aquinas).

Let us deeply consider the love of our Savior Christ who so loved his own unto the end that for their sakes he willingly suffered that painful end, and therein declared the highest degree of love that can be. For, as he himself says: “A greater love no one has than to give his life for his friends.” This is indeed the greatest love that ever anyone had. But yet had our Savior a greater, for he gave his for both friend and foe. Who can in adversity be sure of many of his friends when our Savior himself was, at his capture, left alone and forsaken by his? But what a difference is there now, between this faithful love of his and other kinds of false and fickle love found in this wretched world. The flatterer pretends to love you because he dines well with you. But now if adversity so diminish your possessions that he find your table not laid, then—farewell, adieu—your brother flatterer is gone and gets himself to some other table. And he might even sometime turn into your enemy and cruelly speak evil of you. Who can in adversity be sure of many of his friends when our Savior himself was, at his capture, left alone and forsaken by his? When you go forth who will go with you? If you were a king would not all your realm send you on your way alone and then forget you? Will not your own family let you depart a naked, feeble soul, you know not whither? Let us all in time, then, learn to love as we should, God above all things, and all other things for him. And whatsoever love be not referred to that end, namely, to the good pleasure of God, is a very vain and unfruitful love. And whatsoever love we bear to any creature whereby we love God the less, that love is a loathsome love and hinders us from heaven. Love no child of yours so tenderly but that you could be content to sacrifice it to God, as Abraham was ready with Isaac, if God so commanded you. And since God will not do so, offer your child in another way to God’s service. For whatever we love that makes us break God’s commandment, we love better than God, and that is a love deadly and damnable. Now, since our Lord has so loved us, for our salvation, let us diligently call for his grace that in return for his great love we be not found ungrateful (St. Thomas More).

What is that sweet thing that comes sometimes to touch me at the thought of God? It affects me with such vehemence and sweetness that I begin wholly to go out of myself and to be lifted up, I know not where.  I am renewed and changed; it is a state of inexpressible well-being. My consciousness rejoices.  I lose the memory of my former trials, my soul rejoices, my mind becomes clearer, my heart is enflamed, my desires are satisfied. I feel myself transported into a new place, I know not where.  I grasp something inside of me as if with the embraces of love. I do not know what it is, and yet I strive with all my strength to hold it and not to lose it.  I struggle deliciously to prevent myself leaving this thing which I desire to embrace forever, and I exult with unspeakable intensity, as if I had at last found the goal of all my desires. I seek for nothing more.  I wish for nothing more.  All my ambition is to continue at the point I have reached. Is it my Beloved?  Tell me, I beg you, if this be He, that when He returns, I may entice Him not to depart, and to establish in me His permanent dwelling-place (Hugh of St. Victor).

A friend is called a guardian of love or, as some would have it, a guardian of the spirit itself. Since it is fitting that my friend be a guardian of our mutual love or the guardian of my own spirit so as to preserve all its secrets in faithful silence, let him, as far as he can, cure and endure such defects as he may observe in it; let him rejoice with his friend in his joys, and weep with him in his sorrows, and feel as his own all that his friend experiences. Friendship, therefore, is that virtue by which spirits are bound by ties of love and sweetness, and out of many are made one. Even the philosophers of this world have ranked friendship not with things casual or transitory but with the virtues which are eternal. Solomon in the Book of Proverbs appears to agree with them when he says: He that is a friend loves at all times, manifestly declaring that friendship is eternal if it is true friendship (St. Aelred of Rievaulx).

What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side? Unlike our friends in the world, he will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near… Whenever we think of Christ we should recall the love that led him to bestow on us so many graces and favors, and also the great love God showed in giving us in Christ a pledge of his love; for love calls for love in return. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to rouse ourselves to love him. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort (St. Teresa of Avila).

God is our true Friend, who always gives us the counsel and comfort we need. Our danger lies in resisting Him; so it is essential that we acquire the habit of hearkening to His voice, of keeping silence within, and listening so as to lose nothing of what He says to us. We know well enough how to keep outward silence, and to hush our spoken words, but we know little of interior silence. It consists in hushing our idle, restless, wandering imagination, in quieting the promptings of our worldly minds, and in suppressing the crowd of unprofitable thoughts which excite and disturb the soul (François Fénelon).

Let us live with God as with a Friend. Let us make our faith a living thing, so as to remain in communion with Him through everything. That is how saints are made. We carry our heaven within us, since He who completely satisfies every longing of the glorified souls in the light of the Beatific Vision, is giving Himself to us in faith and mystery. It is the same thing. It seems to me I have found my heaven on earth, since heaven is God and God is in my soul. The day I understood that, everything became clear to me, and I wish I could whisper this secret to those I love in order that they also might cling closely to God through everything (St. Elizabeth of the Trinity).





            Throughout the Easter season we’ve heard a few of the many images John uses for Jesus, like Good Shepherd and True Vine. Trouble is, many of them come from a world we don’t live in, such that images like lamb, shepherd or vine don’t mean as much for people who live in cities.  I, for one, have never met a shepherd and I would have no idea how to prune a grapevine.


            Fortunately, the Bible contains other images that cut across time and space and we have one today -- the image of friend that Jesus used at the Last Supper: I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing.  I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father (G).


            Now I hope everyone knows what friendship is like.  As Jesus says, friends tell each other their thoughts and plans; they know what the other is thinking and doing.  Friends are transparent to each other, with no need to hide behind masks.  Friends are comfortable with each other; they accept each other as they are, yet challenge each other to grow.  Friends work at their relation­ship, they value it so highly.  Friends are there in time of need, proving their love in moments of trial.  Friends are compan­ions, sharing joys and sorrows, triumphs and tragedies.  And there’s nothing worse than a fair-weather “friend” or someone who turns out to be a false “friend” despite appearances to the contrary.   Mind you, Jesus’ words that we’re considering were spoken “on the night he was betrayed.”


            But did you know that your tried and true friends can help you imagine what God is like? And that people to whom Jesus was friend can make this image of God still more real?  Take one of his closest friends, Lazarus, whom the Lord raised from the dead.  When Jesus arrived in Bethany after Lazarus died, he saw the Jews mourning and weeping and he became perturbed and deeply troubled.  Asking where they buried his friend, Jesus wept, causing people to say,“See how he loved him.” (Jn. 11:33-36)  As  Lazarus’ friend, we see God moved to the depths for us, calling us to be free from whatever binds us, that our joy might be complete (G).


            Then there’s Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus rose from the dead, Mary’s the one found weeping at the tomb.  It was to Mary Jesus first appeared.  But when he asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” she did not know him.  Not ‘til he said, “Mary!,” did she recognize him (Jn. 20:15-16).  That formal title, “Woman”, would no longer do.  That way of speaking indicated a distance between us and God and that was overcome by the res­urrection. As Mary’s friend, we see the Lord breaking through every wall that keeps us from God and from one another -- like the one that kept Jew and Gentile apart: the wall Peter saw no longer existed so that we should no longer call any person profane or unclean (Acts 10:28; cf. I).  


            But Jesus’ friend par excellence was the disciple whom he loved (Jn. 19:26).  He reclined on Jesus’ breast during the Last Supper and stood near the cross the following day when Jesus entrusted his mother to him.  Thus he excelled in the command­ment, Love one another as I love you (G) and in him we see God longing to be intimate with us, for God is love (II).  That’s why St. Thomas Aquinas could write that “the charity by which God loved us, sending the Son as expiation for our sins (II), is best likened to friendship (De caritate).


            Now Jesus had many other friends.  But these are enough to see what God as our Friend is like.  The Christian tradition, moreover, is filled with examples of holy friendships. Think of Saints Francis and Clare; Francis de Sales and Jean de Chantal; Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. One of the more beautiful testimonies to Christian friendship was penned by St. Gregory Nazianzen who wrote as follows of his relationship with St. Basil the Great:


Basil and I were both in Athens.   We had come, like streams of a river, from the same source in our native land, had separated from each other in pursuit of learning and were now united again as if by plan, for God so arranged it.I was not alone at that time in my regard for my friend, the great Basil.  I knew his irreproachable conduct and the maturity and wisdom of his conversation.  I sought to persuade others, to whom he was less well known, to have the same regard for him. Many fell immediately under his spell, for they had already heard of him by reputation and hearsay.What was the outcome?  Almost alone of those who had come to Athens to study he was exempted from the customary ceremonies of initiation for he was held in higher honour than his status as a first-year student seemed to warrant.Such was the prelude to our friendship, the kindling of that flame that was to bind us together.   In this way we began to feel affection for each other.   When, in the course of time, we acknowledged our friendship and recognised that our ambition was a life of true wisdom, we became everything to each other:  we shared the same lodging, the same table, the same desires the same goal.  Our love for each other grew daily warmer and deeper.The same hope inspired us – the pursuit of learning.  This is an ambition especially subject to envy.  Yet between us there was no envy.  On the contrary, we made capital out of our rivalry.  Our rivalry consisted, not in seeking the first place for oneself but in yielding it to the other, for we each looked on the other’s success as his own.We seemed to be two bodies with a single spirit. Though we cannot believe those who claim that everything is contained in everything, yet you must believe that in our case each of us was in the other and with the other.Our single object and ambition was virtue and a life of hope in the blessings that are to come; we wanted to withdraw from this world before we departed from it.  With this end in view we ordered our lives and all our actions.  We followed the guidance of God’s law and spurred each other on to virtue.  If it is not too boastful to say, we found in each other a standard and rule for discerning right from wrong.Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves, that is, to their own pursuits and achievements.  But our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians.


            That last line, by the way, is the key to friendship: the truest of friends root their relationship in the One who called us his friends.  Which I why, St. Aelred of Rievaulx – the saint of friendship -- wrote an entire treatise on the subject where he said


             In friendship are joined honor and charm, truth and joy, sweetness and good-will, affection and action.  And all these take their beginning from Christ, advance through Christ, and are perfected in Christ.  Therefore, it is natural to see Christ as the one who inspires the love by which we love our friend.  Nor is the climb steep by which we ascend from our friend’s love, to Christ giving himself to us as our Friend for us to love, so that charm may follow upon charm, sweetness upon sweetness and affection upon affection.  And thus, friend cleaving to friend in the spirit of Christ, is made with Christ but one heart and one soul, and so mounting aloft through degrees of love to friendship with Christ, we are made one spirit with him (Spiritual Friendship). Who lives and reigns, forever and ever.  Amen.



Intercessions (Peter Scagnelli; Prayers for Sundays and Seasons)

Let us offer our intercession to the God who has first loved us and sent the Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

That the church may gladly welcome to the waters of baptism those of every nation who fear God and do what is acceptable to God.

That nations with plentiful resources may open their borders freely, imitating the generous hospitality of God who shows no partiality.

That all who by lives of service make themselves friends to those in need may be the signs to us of Christ, who laid down his life for his friends.

That the neophytes, called by Christ in baptism and chosen to be his friends, may go forth from this paschal season to bear fruit that will last.

That those preparing to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of confirmation may extol God and bear witness to God’s gift by their love for others.

That those who have been born of God and know the God who is love may fulfill Christ’s command to love one another as Christ has loved us.

That all the dead who kept the commandments and abided in Christ’s love may know forever the joy of Christ.

God of all nations, in the gift of your Son you have embraced the world  with a love that takes away our sin  and bestows perfect joy. Grant to all who have been reborn in baptism fidelity in serving you  and generosity in loving one another. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Interlude (Mark Sirett)


Let us love one another for love is of God;
Everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God.
One who does not love does not know God for God is love.

God sent his Son so that we might be forgiven,

God sent his Son so that we might live in love,

And all who live in love live in God and God live in them.

Lord’s Prayer

United in love as the friends of Christ, let us pray as Jesus taught us....

Spiritual Communion

While longing to be united with you and one another in the love of your Body which you offer for us, we seek your divine Presence within our hearts, Lord, and pray that our absence from your Table will soon end and we may be restored to the company of those whom you call your friends in the communion of that same Body.


Closing Hymn

Now the green blade riseth, from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

In the grave they laid Him, Love who had been slain,
Thinking that He never would awake again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

Forth He came at Easter, like the risen grain,
Jesus who for three days in the grave had lain;
Quick from the dead the risen One is seen:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Jesus' touch can call us back to life again,
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.