Fourth Sunday of Lent (C)
March 27, 2022
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.







O God, who through your Word
reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way,
grant, we pray,
that with prompt devotion and eager faith
the Christian people may hasten
toward the solemn celebrations to come.
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 Jos 5:9a,10-12

The LORD said to Joshua,
“Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you.”

While the Israelites were encamped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho,
they celebrated the Passover
on the evening of the fourteenth of the month.
On the day after the Passover,
they ate of the produce of the land
in the form of unleavened cakes and parched grain.
On that same day after the Passover,
on which they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased.
No longer was there manna for the Israelites,
who that year ate of the yield of the land of Canaan.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 34:2-3,4-5,6-7

R/.  Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.

Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
 and from all his distress he saved him.

Second Reading 2 Cor 5:17-21

Brothers and sisters:
Whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God,
who has reconciled us to himself through Christ
and given us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting their trespasses against them
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Verse Before the Gospel Lk 15:18

Gospel Lk 15:1-3,11-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable:
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”

Reflection Questions

            What “old things” have passed away in your life making for a “new creation”?

            What “new things” have come in their place?

            With which of the characters in the parable do you most identify?

Catena Nova

O heavenly Father, have compassion for my cry as You did for the prodigal son, for I, too, am throwing myself at Your feet and crying aloud as he cried: “Father, I have sinned!” Do not reject me Your unworthy child, O my Saviour but cause Your angels to rejoice also on my behalf, O God of goodness You, Who desire that all should be saved. For you have made me Your child and Your own heir through grace (Rm 8,17). Yet as for me, because I have offended You, am here a prisoner, an unhappy slave sold over to sin! Take pity on Your own image (Gn 1,26) and call it back from exile, O Saviour, You, Who desire that all should be saved… Now is the time for repentance… The words of Paul urge me to persevere in prayer (Col 4,2) and await You. Therefore, with trust I pray, for I well know Your mercy, I know You come the first towards me and I am calling out for help. Should You delay, it is to give me the reward for perseverance, You, Who desire that all should be saved. Grant me always to extol You and give You glory by leading a life that is pure. Grant that my deeds may be in accord with my words, that I may sing to You, Almighty… with pure prayer, Christ alone who desires that all should be saved. (St. Romanos Melodios)

Never cease loving a person, and never give up hope for them, for even the prodigal son who had fallen most low, could still be saved; the bitterest enemy and also he who was your friend could again be your friend; love that has grown cold can kindle again. (Soren Kierkegaard)

For us, a portion of God’s inheritance, is our existence, our freedom, our intellect, our accountability – all of these, are the most sublime goods imaginable, goods that only God could give us. That we, waste it all and end up in distress and that the distress brings us to our senses, is not really as significant, as the father’s vigil, compassion, extravagant greeting, refurbishing of the prodigal and the feast announced in his honour. Not even for the refractory and envious brother, does the father have a harsh word – he is not scolding him when he speaks to him, he merely speaks the full truth- whoever sticks by God, possesses everything in common with God! (Fr. Hans Urs von Bathasar)

The ultimate reason for our hope is not to be found at all in what we want, wish for and wait for; the ultimate reason is that we are wanted and wished for and waited for. What is it that awaits us? Does anything await us at all, or are we alone? Whenever we base our hope on trust in the divine mystery, we feel deep down in our hearts: there is someone who is waiting for you, who is hoping for you, who believes in you. We are waited for as the prodigal son in the parable is waited for by his father. We are accepted and received, as a mother takes her children into her arms and comforts them. God is our last hope because we are God's first love. (Jurgen Moltmann)

The more I reflect on the elder son in me, the more I realize how deeply rooted this form of lostness really is and how hard it is to return home from there. Returning home from a lustful escapade seems so much easier than returning home from a cold anger that has rooted itself in the deepest corners of my being. My resentment is not something that can be easily distinguished and dealt with rationally. It is far more pernicious: something that has attached itself to the underside of my virtue. Isn’t it good to be obedient, dutiful, law-abiding, hardworking, and self-sacrificing? And still it seems that my resentments and complaints are mysteriously tied to such praiseworthy attitudes. This connection often makes me despair. At the very moment I want to speak or act out of my most generous self, I get caught in anger or resentment. And it seems that just as I want to be most selfless, I find myself obsessed about being loved. Just when I do my utmost to accomplish a task well, I find myself questioning why others do not give themselves as I do. Just when I think I am capable of overcoming my temptations, I feel envy toward those who gave in to theirs. It seems that wherever my virtuous self is, there also is the resentful complainer. (Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen)

If I am still not a saint, it is because my way of looking at things is so different from yours, Lord. When a sinner is not reconciled with you, Lord, you nevertheless continue to love and call that sinner to repentance. When a sinner repents and comes back to the Father’s house, you look on him or her as an entirely new person—as if nothing had ever happened. When the converted sinner lives in your peace, you forget everything, Lord. You have cleansed everything in your blood and nothing remains of the past. Henceforth, there exists only communion, esteem, and trust. I listen to you, Lord, when you tell me:

“Forget your brothers’ and sisters’ past. If you base your relationships on the past, then who will be mistaken: you or them? You will be the one in the wrong for not having forgiven. You want to know everyone’s curriculum vitae, and that is why, little by little, communion is broken. I want to open the door wide to them, but you insist on keeping it closed. I want to forgive them, but you insist on condemning them. How different my way of seeing is from yours! Rejoice, because your brother was dead. Now he is alive.” Lord, I can never exhaust the meaning of these words. I can only kneel before you and thank you for your love. (Venerable Francis Xavier Nguyên Văn Thuân)

In this parable, you can also glimpse a third son. A third son? Where? He’s hidden! And it is the one, ‘who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Phil 2:6-7). This Servant-Son is Jesus! He is ‘the extension of the arms and heart of the Father: he welcomed the prodigal Son and washed his dirty feet; he prepared the banquet for the feast of forgiveness. He, Jesus, teaches us to be “merciful as the Father is merciful”. The figure of the Father in the parable reveals the heart of God. He is the Merciful Father who, in Jesus, loves us beyond measure, always awaits our conversion every time we make mistakes; he awaits our return when we turn away from him thinking, we can do without him; he is always ready to open his arms no matter what happened. As the father of the Gospel, God also continues to consider us his children, even when we get lost, and comes to us with tenderness when we return to him. He addresses us so kindly when we believe we are right. The errors we commit, even if bad, do not wear out the fidelity of his love. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we can always start out anew: He welcomes us, gives us the dignity of being his children and tells us: “Go ahead! Be at peace! Rise, go ahead!” In this time of Lent that still separates us from Easter, we are called to intensify the inner journey of conversion. May the loving gaze of our Father touch us. Let us return and return to him with all our heart, rejecting any compromise with sin. (Pope Francis)


“Sin Boldly” …. (Martin Luther)

            What do you think?  Is it the Parable of the Prodigal Son?  Or should it be called the Merciful Father?   Scholars debate who the main character of the story is.   I don’t think it’s either of those.  I think it should be called the Parable of the Law-Abiding Son.  For some reason, he’s the character that strikes me the most.

            After all, what’s so strange about a kid leaving home?  Kids do that all the time: they get tired of life on the farm, so they set off for the big city.  They want to sow some wild oats, test their wings, prove they’re all grown up.  And yeah, they get a little spending money from Mom and Dad -- and if it’s college they’re off to, it might as well be their inheritance!  Oh, and if they get into trouble, or bored, or run out of money, they find their way back home.  I realize the prodigal son did all that stuff that in a big way, but in the end, the story’s as old as the hills.

            And so is the father’s story.  I’d like to think there aren’t too many parents who’d slam the door in a kid’s face.  No matter what they’ve done.  Yes, I know about tough love--and sometimes that’s what kids need.  But when they come to their senses, and straighten themselves out, or just realize they’ve had enough of their youthful fling, and are ready to settle down, why, what father or mother wouldn’t be glad?  True, they might not bring out the finest robe, or put a ring on their finger, or kill the fatted calf, and throw a big party.  But I can see most parents deeply moved at kids turning themselves around, and running out to meet them, throwing their arms around their neck, and kissing them.  That’s not so strange, is it?

            And I would even think the other kids--the kind who never gave their parents any trouble, who did what they were told, and made their folks proud--I would think the other kids would be kind of happy too.  Sibling rivalry aside, I would have been glad if my late brother had come home should he ever have gone astray in his youth.  Oh, I’d have had a lecture or two stored up for him, well-rehearsed, designed to impose the maximum guilt.  After all, that’s what older brothers are for!  But I don’t think I’d get all upset if my parents did some celebrating for a son who was lost, and now was found.

            Which is why I think the story is really about the Law-Abiding Son.  He’s the one who’s acting strangely.  He got all jealous and resentful, and really angry at his father.  He wouldn’t even step foot in the house while the welcome-home party was going on for that scoundrel.  Then he tells his old man off, thinking to himself, “That’s what I get for being good.”

            And that is what I think was his real problem.  I think the elder brother wished he had the guts to do what his brother did; that he was a little more adventuresome, and less of a homebody.   Wishing he’d seen a little more of the world, and less of the farm; that he was a little more free, and less bound to custom and duty.  Oh, I think that was the real issue here: I think he resented his brother’s chutzpah.

            But that’s the way first-borns tend to be.  Take it from me, I’m one of them.  We’re very responsible types: pleasers, they call us.  We like rules, are a bit on the conservative side, and we’re into conven­tion.  Our younger siblings tend to be more rebellious, a bit on the wild side.  They’re into conventions  too—but the kind you have at big hotels, with jacuzzis and pick-up bars.  Yes, elder children tend to look after things--like their parents--and younger ones, well they tend  to  mess up a bit.

            Now I’m not saying one is better or worse--just different.  And I think the father in the parable understood that.  And so does God, I hope.  After all, God too has a first-born Son who was pretty obedient.  But God’s elder son was the one who “left home” for a distant land. And when he came among us, well, he didn’t always do things the right way.  He broke the Sabbath, for example, and tax collectors and sinners gathered around to hear him, at which the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (G).  Why, St. Paul even said, for our sakes God made him who did not know sin to be sin (II).

            Which says something about sin, doesn’t it?  Like maybe sin fits somehow into God’s plan for us: that there’s a mysterious relationship between our sins and our growth.  Why, in a couple of weeks, during the Easter Vigil, we’ll even sing of  our “happy fault,” our “necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer” (Easter Proclamation).  See, God knows what to do even with sin, how to turn it to our advantage, so that in [Christ] we might become the very holiness of God (II).

            I know some people who turned away from the church--sometimes for years—who’ve made the best Christians after they returned--while “law-abiders” so often stagnate in their more humdrum devotion.  A woman once told me she learned a lot about Christ from the Hindu writer Ramakrishna, more than she learned from the Catholic Church in her youth.  But after eighteen years in a Hindu ashram, she returned to the Church, and is now a deeply devoted Catholic, but one who still has a devotion to her Hindu mentor. I suppose that’s one reason Jesus preferred the more daring company of “sinners” to the routine exi­stence of the righteous.  They’re more interesting.

            And yes, I think the father in the story knew all about this too.  I think he knew the prodigal son learned some important things in his time away, things his other son could never imagine.  And I think the father under­stood, as God does, that detours can lead you home, as sure as straight roads can.  Like Joshua, who got the people to the Promised Land, but only after wandering a long time in the desert, committing idolatry, and getting lost on the way.  But that’s where they met God, and God fed them there too—and not on fodder for the pigs, but on manna from heaven.

            Strange God, wouldn’t you say, this God of ours: Not counting [our] transgressions against [us] (II).  So come to think of it, maybe we need to call this parable something else altogether, maybe it should be called the “Prodigal Father” – prodigal in his love, mercy, and forbearance toward us wayward children.  Through Christ, the First-Born Son, and Friend of Sinners.  Who lives and reigns,  forever and ever.  Amen.



Intercessions (Archdiocese of Adelaide)

We pray that the Church may be bold in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus and the mercy of the Father, so that people can rejoice in God’s love and not live in fear of judgement.

May we receive the word of God with faith and know its power to forgive, restore, heal and reconcile.

That all sinners, no matter what their sin is, will come to believe in the mercy of God, repent with all their heart and be converted  to God’s way.

That God’s mercy will change hearts, so that Ukraine is delivered from its present distress, guns and missiles fall silent, the wounded be healed, the homeless receive shelter and refugees return to safe homes.

That the Elect who are preparing for their Easter Baptism may be filled with hope and joy as they seek to dedicate themselves to Christ.

We commend to God the dead from among our families and parish, our nation and whole world, that they will hear the voice of God on the last day and be raised from death to glory.

God of compassion,
you await the sinner’s return
and spread a feast to welcome home the lost.
Save us from the temptations
that lead away from you,
and draw us back by the constancy of your love,
that we may take our place in your household
and gladly share our inheritance with others.
Grant this through Christ, our Lord. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)



Father I have sinned

Help me find my way

Remember not my sin

Just let me hear you say

I forgive you I love you

You are mine

Take my hand

Go in peace

Sin no more beloved one.

Father I have turned

My back and walked away

Depended on my strength

And lived life my own way

Father I have closed

My heart to those in need

Thought only for myself

A victim of my greed

Father I have loved

If love's the word to use

I've played so many games

They left me so confused

Father I've returned

I'm home with you to stay

Standing by your door

Knowing that you'll say.

Spiritual Communion

After the Lord’s Prayer, think of those things that are “lost” in your life and you would like to make a “return of.”  Ask the indwelling Spirit to reconcile those things and make of them a new creation.



Closing Hymn


My song is love unknown,
My Saviors love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take, frail flesh and die?

He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend, my Friend indeed,
Who at my need His life did spend.

Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then Crucify! is all their breath,
And for His death they thirst and cry.

They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they saved,
The Prince of life they slay,
Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
That He His foes from thence might free.

Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.


Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Basilica of St. Peter
March 25, 2022

O Mary, Mother of God and our mother, in this time of trial we turn to you. As our mother, you love us and know us: No concern of our hearts is hidden from you. Mother of mercy, how often we have experienced your watchful care and your peaceful presence! You never cease to guide us to Jesus, the prince of peace.

Yet we have strayed from that path of peace. We have forgotten the lesson learned from the tragedies of the last century, the sacrifice of the millions who fell in two world wars. We have disregarded the commitments we made as a community of nations. We have betrayed peoples’ dreams of peace and the hopes of the young. We grew sick with greed, we thought only of our own nations and their interests, we grew indifferent and caught up in our selfish needs and concerns.

We chose to ignore God, to be satisfied with our illusions, to grow arrogant and aggressive, to suppress innocent lives and to stockpile weapons. We stopped being our neighbor’s keepers and stewards of our common home. We have ravaged the garden of the earth with war, and by our sins we have broken the heart of our heavenly Father, who desires us to be brothers and sisters. We grew indifferent to everyone and everything except ourselves. Now with shame we cry out: Forgive us, Lord!

Holy Mother, amid the misery of our sinfulness, amid our struggles and weaknesses, amid the mystery of iniquity that is evil and war, you remind us that God never abandons us, but continues to look upon us with love, ever ready to forgive us and raise us up to new life. He has given you to us and made your Immaculate Heart a refuge for the church and for all humanity. By God’s gracious will, you are ever with us; even in the most troubled moments of our history, you are there to guide us with tender love.

We now turn to you and knock at the door of your heart. We are your beloved children. In every age you make yourself known to us, calling us to conversion. At this dark hour, help us and grant us your comfort. Say to us once more: “Am I not here, I who am your Mother?” You are able to untie the knots of our hearts and of our times. In you we place our trust. We are confident that, especially in moments of trial, you will not be deaf to our supplication and will come to our aid.

That is what you did at Cana in Galilee, when you interceded with Jesus and he worked the first of his signs. To preserve the joy of the wedding feast, you said to him: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3). Now, O Mother, repeat those words and that prayer, for in our own day we have run out of the wine of hope, joy has fled, fraternity has faded. We have forgotten our humanity and squandered the gift of peace. We opened our hearts to violence and destructiveness. How greatly we need your maternal help!

Therefore, O Mother, hear our prayer.

Star of the Sea, do not let us be shipwrecked in the tempest of war.

Ark of the New Covenant, inspire projects and paths of reconciliation.

Queen of Heaven, restore God’s peace to the world.

Eliminate hatred and the thirst for revenge, and teach us forgiveness.

Free us from war, protect our world from the menace of nuclear weapons.

Queen of the Rosary, make us realize our need to pray and to love.

Queen of the Human Family, show people the path of fraternity.

Queen of Peace, obtain peace for our world.

O Mother, may your sorrowful plea stir our hardened hearts. May the tears you shed for us make this valley parched by our hatred blossom anew. Amid the thunder of weapons, may your prayer turn our thoughts to peace. May your maternal touch soothe those who suffer and flee from the rain of bombs. May your motherly embrace comfort those forced to leave their homes and their native land. May your sorrowful heart move us to compassion and inspire us to open our doors and to care for our brothers and sisters who are injured and cast aside.

Holy Mother of God, as you stood beneath the cross, Jesus, seeing the disciple at your side, said: “Behold your son” (Jn 19:26). In this way, he entrusted each of us to you. To the disciple, and to each of us, he said: “Behold, your Mother” (Jn 19:27). Mother Mary, we now desire to welcome you into our lives and our history.

At this hour, a weary and distraught humanity stands with you beneath the cross, needing to entrust itself to you and, through you, to consecrate itself to Christ. The people of Ukraine and Russia, who venerate you with great love, now turn to you, even as your heart beats with compassion for them and for all those peoples decimated by war, hunger, injustice and poverty.

Therefore, Mother of God and our mother, to your Immaculate Heart we solemnly entrust and consecrate ourselves, the church and all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine. Accept this act that we carry out with confidence and love. Grant that war may end and peace spread throughout the world. The “fiat” that arose from your heart opened the doors of history to the Prince of Peace. We trust that, through your heart, peace will dawn once more. To you we consecrate the future of the whole human family, the needs and expectations of every people, the anxieties and hopes of the world.

Through your intercession, may God’s mercy be poured out on the earth and the gentle rhythm of peace return to mark our days. Our Lady of the “fiat,” on whom the Holy Spirit descended, restore among us the harmony that comes from God. May you, our “living fountain of hope,” water the dryness of our hearts. In your womb Jesus took flesh; help us to foster the growth of communion. You once trod the streets of our world; lead us now on the paths of peace. Amen.