Fourth Sunday of Easter (C)
May 08, 2022
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.



Rite of Sprinkling





Almighty ever-living God,
lead us to a share in the joys of heaven,
so that the humble flock may reach
where the brave Shepherd has gone before.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading Acts 13:14,43-521

Paul and Barnabas continued on from Perga
and reached Antioch in Pisidia.
On the sabbath they entered the synagogue and took their seats.
Many Jews and worshipers who were converts to Judaism
followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them
and urged them to remain faithful to the grace of God.

On the following sabbath almost the whole city gathered
to hear the word of the Lord.
When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy
and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said.
Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said,
“It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first,
but since you reject it
and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life,
we now turn to the Gentiles.
For so the Lord has commanded us,
I have made you a light to the Gentiles,
that you may be an instrument of salvation
to the ends of the earth.”

The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this
and glorified the word of the Lord.
All who were destined for eternal life came to believe,
and the word of the Lord continued to spread
through the whole region.
The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers
and the leading men of the city,
stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas,
and expelled them from their territory.
So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them,
and went to Iconium.
The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm 100:1-2,3,5

R/. We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.

Know that the LORD is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends.

The LORD is good:
his kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations.

Second Reading Rev 7:9,14b-17

I, John, had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.

Then one of the elders said to me,
“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

“For this reason they stand before God’s throne
and worship him day and night in his temple.
The one who sits on the throne will shelter them.
They will not hunger or thirst anymore,
nor will the sun or any heat strike them.
For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne
will shepherd them
and lead them to springs of life-giving water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Alleluia Jn 10:14

Gospel Jn 10:27-30

Jesus said:
“My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.”

Reflection Questions

What might provoke you to shake the dust from your feet in protest?

How are you surviving our own “time of great distress?”

How do you discern the Shepherd’ voice?

Catena Nova


The good shepherd, the text reads, lays down his life for his sheep.... But is that death of the shepherd advantageous to the sheep? Let us investigate. It leaves them abandoned, exposes them defenseless to the wolves, hands over the beloved flock to the gnawing jaws of beasts, gives them over to plunder and exposes them to death. But what are we to do, since Life himself could not die unless he had decided to? Who could have taken life away from the Giver of life if he were unwilling? He himself said: I have the power to lay down my life, and I have the power to take it up again. No one takes it from me. Therefore, he willed to die—he who permitted himself to be slain although he was unable to die. And who doubts that these slain martyrs will arise, and live, and reign, since Christ himself, though slain, has arisen, and lives, and reigns? Hear the voice of the Shepherd: My sheep hear my voice and follow me. The sheep who have followed him to death must also follow him to life. They who have accompanied him into the midst of insults must also accompany him into honor. They who shared his passion must also share his glory.Where I am, he says, there also shall my servant be. Where? Truly, above the skies where Christ is sitting at the Father’s right hand. O man, let not living by faith disturb you, nor the long time you must hope fatigue you. Your destiny is a certain one, and is being kept for you with the very Author of all things! You have died, Scripture says, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, your life, shall appear, then you too will appear with him in glory (Col 3:3-4). (St. Peter Chrysologus)

The seer of [Revelation] 7.9-17 sees the expected assembly of the last days, every nation, tribe, people and tongue. The multitude in white robes, we learn from the new interpretation of the vision, are those who 'are coming' (note that this is the present tense) out of the Great Tribulation; they are the Christians in Rome, enduring persecution under Nero after the great fire of Rome in July 64 CE.... Tacitus described what happened in Rome. 'Covered with the skins of beasts they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames. These served to illuminate the night when daylight failed' (Annals 15.44.6)....'They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb', said the elder, and here the symbolism of the visionaries is at its most opaque. When the Lamb took the book, the living creatures and the elders sang a new song, proclaiming that he had made every tribe and tongue and people and nation into a royal priesthood by his blood. ... he multitude in white robes, from 'every nation, tribe, people and tongue', standing before the throne of God and serving day and night in the temple, are that royal priesthood. The blood of the Lamb has made their robes white; in other words, they have been given the white garments of the priests in the sanctuary, the garments of glory, the resurrection body. The blood sprinkled on the Day of Atonement cleansed and consecrated (Lev. 16.19) and so the blood made their robes into garments of priesthood, garments of glory. By their death the martyrs have also made the high priestly sacrifice and are part of the Great Atonement. This is the picture of the millennium kingdom (20.4-6). (Margaret Barker)

The mark of Christ’s sheep is their willingness to hear and obey, just as the sign of those who are not his is their disobedience. We take the word “hear” to imply obedience to what has been said. People who hear God are known by him. We are all united to Christ in a mystical relationship because of his incarnation. No one is entirely unknown by God, but to be known in this way is to become his kin. Thus, when Christ says, “I know mine,” he means, “I will receive them, and give them permanent mystical kinship with myself.” It might be said that inasmuch as he has become human, he has made all human beings his kin, since all are members of the same race; we are all united to Christ in a mystical relationship because of his incarnation. Yet those who do not preserve the likeness of his holiness are alienated from him. “My sheep follow me,” says Christ. By a certain God-given grace, believers follow in the footsteps of Christ. No longer subject to the shadows of the law, they obey the commands of Christ, and guided by his words rise through grace to his own dignity, for they are called children of God.... By giving life Christ shows that by nature he is life. He does not receive it from another, but supplies it from his own resources. And by eternal life we understand not only length of days which all, both good and bad, shall possess after the resurrection, but also the passing of those days in peace and joy. We may also see in the word “life” a reference to the Eucharist, by means of which Christ implants in believers his own life through their sharing in his flesh, according to the text: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” (St. Cyril of Alexandria)

The righteous believed that [Christ] would come, just as we believe, that He has already come. Times have changed, faith is the same… One single faith unites those who believed that He would come and those, who believe that He has come. We all see Him at different times coming in by the same gate of faith, that is to say, through Christ… Yes, all who believed in the past, at the time of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, or of Moses or the other patriarchs and prophets, who all announced Christ, were already His sheep. They heard Christ Himself through them – they did not hear a strange voice but His own. (St. Augustine of Hippo)

Christ is our shepherd and our pasture. What he has already given us only foreshadows what is to come. With these gifts we can lead others to their good and true shepherd. What we have received we are to share with others who have not yet received it, and we are to so build one another up that all turn more and more wholly to Christ and so to our Heavenly Father. (Luis de Leon)

We usually understand a shepherd to be one who leads a flock of sheep and protects it from harm. But in Revelation, the author proclaims “the Lamb at the center of the throne” to be the shepherd of the multitude of worshipers from all nations. The worshipers are praising this Lamb whom they follow and the Lamb “will guide them to springs of the water of life.” (Rev. 7: 17) Their white robes have been made white in the blood of this Lamb because the Lamb has lead his followers through the ordeal.... But what does the Lamb of God protect the sheep from? We were not protected from bandits and robbers any more than the martyrs in white robes were protected from the ordeal. What the Lamb of God protects us from is being or becoming bandits and robbers. That is, we are protected from being people who shed the blood in which the white robes of the martyrs are washed. Most important, it is precisely by being the Lamb of God that this shepherd does not attack robbers and thieves with the violence they impose on him, but instead he lays down his life, not only for those of us in the sheepfold, but for those who attack him and the flock. This raises the question: In protecting us from becoming bandits and robbers, is Jesus laying down his life to turn those of us who have become bandits and robbers from what we have become? If the Lamb of God died for sinners as St. Paul claimed many times, then that is exactly what he has done and that is why, in following the Lamb of God as our shepherd, we do the same, secure in the sheepfold of our shepherd with the multitudes from every nation. (Abbot Andrew Marr)

How can we recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd from that of the thief, how can we distinguish God's inspiration from the suggestion of the evil one?  We can learn to discern these two voices: in fact they speak two different languages, that is, they have opposite ways of knocking on our hearts. They speak different languages.... The voice of God never forces us: God proposes himself, he does not impose himself. Instead, the evil voice seduces, assails, forces: it arouses dazzling illusions, tempting emotions that are fleeting. At first it flatters us, it makes us believe that we are all-powerful, but then leaves us with emptiness inside and accuses us: "You are worth nothing". God's voice, on the other hand, corrects us, with so much patience, but always encourages us, consoles us: it always nourishes hope. The voice of God is a voice that has a horizon, instead the voice of the evil one leads you to a wall, it takes you to a corner. The voice of the enemy [also] distracts us from the present and wants us to focus on the fears of the future or the sadness of the past – the enemy does not want the present –: it brings back the bitterness, the memories of the wrongs suffered, of those who hurt us, so many bad memories. Instead, God's voice speaks to the present: "Now you can do good, now you can exercise the creativity of love, now you can renounce the regrets and remorse that hold your heart captive." It enlivens us, it brings us forward, but it speaks of the present: now. In addition, the two voices raise different questions in us. What comes from God will be, "What is good for me?" Instead, the tempter will insist on another question: "What do I want to do?" What would I like: the evil voice always revolves around the self, its impulses, its needs, everything and immediately. It's like the whims of children: everything right now. The voice of God, on the other hand, never promises cheap joy. It invites us to go beyond our self to find the true good, peace. Let us remember: evil never gives us peace, it puts frenzy first and leaves bitterness after. That's the style of evil. Finally, the voice of God and that of the tempter, speak in different "environments": the enemy prefers darkness, falsehood, gossip; the Lord loves sunlight, truth, sincere transparency. The enemy will say to us: "Close yourself in on yourself, for no one understands you and listens to you, do not trust others!" Good, on the other hand, invites us to open up, to be transparent and trusting in God and in others. (Pope Francis)


Hearing Voices

            Among the more startling recent examples of strange bedfellows was the interview granted by Catholic provocateur Michael Voris at Church Militant and Republican firebrand Marjorie Taylor Greene.  During the interview, which garnered a lot of attention, the latter voiced her opinion that Catholic bishops are “satanic” and are “destroying our nation” through their support of migrants.  “The bishops are also busy destroying our nation using taxpayer money to advocate for the illegal invasion across our borders. They dare to dress up Democrat vandalism and lawlessness as somehow ‘religious’, which perhaps explains their distaste for me,” she claimed.  Greene, a former Catholic who left the church due to the clergy scandals, met with seeming approval by Voris who, it might be noted, prompted the exchange and even baited Greene’s outbursts.  At his website (declared not to be Catholic since 2012 by the Archdiocese of Detroit where he resides) Voris wrote: “In a clarion call to the mindset of U.S. bishops (who are always prattling on about unity and not causing division), MTG just let loose against calls for fake unity in politics.” 

            Reporting on the exchange, Fr. Bill McCormick commented, “In fact, many Catholics in the United States regard other ‘tribes’ of Catholics as their enemies, and some view some non-Catholics as closer to them politically and spiritually than other Catholics—or at least as convenient cudgels for those other Catholics” (America; April 29, 2022).  That is putting it mildly.

            Which brings me to today’s example from Scripture – namely, the rift that would eventually break out between Paul and Barnabas.  Today we see them cooperating in preaching the gospel.  Because of limited success among their target audience in Antioch and indeed because of persecution from their co-religionists, they redirect their efforts to the Gentiles who were delighted when they heard this.  All who were destined for eternal life came to believe, and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region (I).  So far so good.  But there would come a day when the two of them were at loggerheads -- so sharp was their disagreement that they separated as Luke puts it (Acts 15:39).  All we know for certain is that a relative of Barnabas, John Mark by name, had run afoul of Paul when he left the duo for unclear reasons (13:13) and when Barnabas wanted him to rejoin them on another missionary journey, Paul refused to have him.  So what had been a united team of evangelists working together successfully were divided in two.

            Then there’s the Seer behind the Book of Revelation, John of Patmos, who opened his work with a series of letters addressed to seven churches in Asia Minor.  But there’s something puzzling about what he says to the first of them.  To the church in Ephesus, he mentions those who call themselves apostles but are not, and [how the Ephesians] discovered that they are impostors (2:2).  Now Paul spent several years preaching in Ephesus and a letter of the New Testament bears his name.  But Paul himself spoke of having “many opponents” in the city, even saying he fought “with beasts” there (1 Cor 15:32; 16:9). 

            It is at least possible these were Hebrew Christians who insisted on retaining various practices of Judaism in contrast of Paul’s preaching of freedom from the Law of Moses to both Hebrew and Gentile Christians.  In other words, the kind of dissension we see brewing in the first reading from Acts (cf. Margaret Barker; Revelation of Jesus Christ, pp. 93ff.)

            So there’s always more to the story, isn’t there?  Even today’s short passage from John betrays tensions that existed in the early days of Christianity.  In its immediate context, when Jesus’ speaks of my sheep who hear his voice, he is addressing his fellow Jews who were hostile to him.  The episode ends with people ready to stone him for blasphemy.  But in the broader context of early Christianity, John’s community was not of the same vintage as those Paul or later Barnabas founded and there were likely notable differences, even hostility between them.  On top of that the letters in the New Testament bearing John’s name attest to a schism in his own communities over differing beliefs about Jesus.  In the first of these letters, the author states, They went out from us, but they were not really of our number; if they had been, they would have remained with us. Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number (1 Jn. 2:19)

            So there you have the early church -- just one big happy family.  So should we be surprised by today’s squabbles, dissensions, and divisions?  Not really.  Does that mean the voice of the Shepherd cannot be discerned by those who strive to hear his voice?  No, but it does mean we may at times have to strain to hear it over the bleating of the sheep!  And there’s a lot of that going on today, made much easier by technology.

            For example, Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Twitter feed boasts 767,000 followers while Michael Voris’ YouTube channel registers 283,000 subscribers.  By contrast, a well-known proxy for more progressive voices in the American episcopate, Rocco Palmo, has a mere 26,000 Twitter followers while the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops YouTube channel has a mere 48,000 subscribers.  (The Vatican News English-language channel is about the only official Catholic online outlet to rival Church Militant with 219,000 subscribers).

            If you ask me, one of the best audio assists for catching the voice of the Shepherd amidst all this din is to listen for those who have survived the time of great distress – people who walk the talk, because if talk is cheap nothing is cheaper than religious talk.  So I listen for the echoes of those who washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, the Lamb who shepherds them (cf. II).  It’s the martyrs who put their blood where their mouth was – and still do in ways great and small.        

            And even if Christian witness (Gk. marturas) is not especially welcome these days, partly because the churches themselves have created so many roadblocks to faith -- from scandal, to hypocrisy, to strange political alliances, to social agendas more and more incomprehensible to people of good will, the young especially, not to mention the infighting and polarization within the household of faith itself, pitting believer against believer – the Shepherd’s voice resounds where it is most authentic and where it’s not, it’s just so much noise.  



Intercessions (cf. Archdiocese of Adelaide)

That there might be in the Church a real missionary spirit so that Jesus is proclaimed to the nations with great love.

That no one will steal from the flock of Christ, our Good Shepherd, so that we may share the eternal life promised by Jesus.

That the Holy Spirit will awaken in the hearts of young adults a desire to serve the Church as priests, religious and lay ministers.

That those who discern the suitability of candidates for the ministry may do so under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, sensitive to the needs of the Church.

That the Church may find new ways of supporting Catholic communities in many parts of the world who are now deprived of the Eucharist because they live in isolated places and have no priests.

That all in distress because of war and the pandemic, starvation and persecution, may be graced by the protection of the tent of the Good Shepherd spread over them all.

That the Good Shepherd will hold tenderly in his arms all who suffer from the coronavirus, and lead those who have died to where they may enter through him, the Gate, to a place that is safe.

That all mothers may enjoy the right to respect in their families, opportunities to grow in holiness, protection from all forms of violence, and help in times of sickness and distress.

That those who are troubled in spirit or live with mental illness and with anxiety, may find Christ’s peace and consolation through the kindness of family, friends and sensitive professionals.

That our departed, remembering especially our mothers who have died, may with their tears wiped away, be now led by the Good Shepherd to the springs of living water.

Safe in your hand, O God,
is the flock you shepherd
through Jesus your Son.
Lead us always to the living waters
where you promise respite and refreshment,
that we may be counted among those
who know and follow you.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, the resurrection and the life,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Hymn (Words: Walter Russel Bowie)


O holy city, seen of John,
where Christ, the Lamb, doth reign,
within whose foursquare walls shall come
no night, nor need, nor pain,
and where the tears are wiped from eyes
that shall not weep again!

Hark, how from men whose lives are held
more cheap than merchandise;
from women struggling sore for bread,
from little children's cries,
there swells the sobbing human plaint
that bids thy walls arise!

O shame to us who rest content
while lust and greed for gain
in street and shop and tenement
wring gold from human pain,
and bitter lips in blind despair cry,
"Christ hath died in vain!"

Give us, O God, the strength to build
the city that hath stood
too long a dream, whose laws are love,
whose ways are brotherhood,
and where the sun that shineth is
God's grace for human good.

Already in the mind of God
that city riseth fair:
lo, how its splendor challenges
the souls that greatly dare--
yea, bids us seize the whole of life
and build its glory there.

Communion Antiphon


Closing Hymn (Isaac Watts)


My Shepherd will supply my need:
Jehovah is His Name;
In pastures fresh He makes me feed,
Beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back
When I forsake His ways,
And leads me, for His mercy’s sake,
In paths of truth and grace.

When I walk through the shades of death
Thy presence is my stay;
One word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes,
Doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be my abode,
And all my work be praise.
There would I find a settled rest,
While others go and come;
No more a stranger, nor a guest,
But like a child at home.