Fifth Sunday of Easter (C)
May 15, 2022
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 14:21-27

After Paul and Barnabas had proclaimed the good news
to that city and made a considerable number of disciples,
they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.
They strengthened the spirits of the disciples
and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying,
"It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships
to enter the kingdom of God."
They appointed elders for them in each church and,
with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord
in whom they had put their faith.
Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia.
After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia.
From there they sailed to Antioch,
where they had been commended to the grace of God
for the work they had now accomplished.
And when they arrived, they called the church together
and reported what God had done with them
and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

Responsorial Psalm 145:8-9,10-11,12-13

R/. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.

Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
 and speak of your might.

Let them make known your might to the children of Adam,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages,

and your dominion endures through all generations.

Second Reading Rev 21:1-5a

Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth.
The former heaven and the former earth had passed away,
and the sea was no more.
I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
"Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race.
He will dwell with them and they will be his people
and God himself will always be with them as their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain,
for the old order has passed away."

The One who sat on the throne said,
"Behold, I make all things new."

Alleluia Jn 13:34

Gospel Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35

When Judas had left them, Jesus said,
"Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him,
God will also glorify him in himself,
and God will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another."

Reflection Questions

What are the things that strengthen your spirit so as to persevere in the faith?

Where do you see the “old order” passing away?

How does love make you known as Jesus’ disciple?

Catena Nova

Do you not see what is new in Christ's love for us?  He showed the novelty of his command and how far the love he enjoined surpassed the old conception of mutual love by going on immediately to add: “Love one another as I have loved you.”To understand the full force of these words, we have to consider how Christ loved us. Then it will be easy to see what is new and different in the commandment we are now given....The law commanded people to love their brothers and sisters as they love themselves, but our Lord Jesus Christ loved us more than himself. He who was one in nature with God the Father and his equal would not have descended to our lowly estate, nor endured in his flesh such a better death for us, not submitted to the blows given him by his enemies, to the shame, the derision, and all the other sufferings that could not possibly be enumerated; nor, being rich, would he have become poor, had he not loved us far more than himself. It was indeed something new for love to go as far as that! Christ commands us to love as he did, putting neither reputation, nor wealth, not anything whatever before love of our brothers and sisters. If need be we must even be prepared to face death for our neighbor's salvation as did our Savior's blessed disciples and those who followed in their footsteps. To them the salvation of others mattered more than their own lives and they were ready to do anything or to suffer anything to save souls that were perishing.... The Savior urged us to practice this love that transcends the law as the foundation of true devotion to God. He knew that only in this way could we become pleasing in God's eyes, and that it was by seeking the beauty of the love implanted in us by himself that we should attain to the highest blessings. (St. Cyril of Alexandria)

Charity makes the heart expansive and generous, not double or narrow. The soul who is pierced by this tender arrow does not show one thing with her face and tongue when she has another in her heart. Nor does she serve or behave deceitfully or ambitiously with regard to her neighbors, because charity is open with everyone. Therefore the soul who possesses charity never falls into pain or distressing sadness, nor does she argue with obedience; no, she is obedient even to the point of death. (St. Catherine of Siena)

[Love] is entirely turned towards God, but the created spirit embraces also itself in knowledge, bliss and self-acceptance. The surrender to God is at the same time surrender to one’s own self as loved by God and to the whole of creation. (St. Edith Stein/Benedicta of the Cross)

To abide in love means to have open eyes, to be able to see something that only a few see, namely, the outstretched, begging hands of the others who are along the way, and now not be able to do anything else but to act, to help, to do one’s duty, using everything one has. That may be here or there. Most important is that, wherever it is, one can always allow oneself to be interrupted by God. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

We are very prone to loving as we love one another. A big part of the way we love one another is to intensify our love by hating our enemies, especially those who have betrayed us. By abiding in our love for others, we hate those who are outside our group. If we abide in Christ’s love, then our love for others expands even to our betrayers because it is no longer our love, but Christ’s that moves in and through us. After all, Jesus had presumably washed the feet of Judas before Judas left. Might Jesus still want Judas to come back to the table? Would we welcome Judas if he should return? (Abbot Andrew Marr)

The first thing that must strike a non-Christian about a Christian's faith is that it is all too daring. It is too beautiful to be true: The mystery of being, unveiled as absolute love, coming down to wash the feet and the souls of its creatures; a love that assumes the whole burden of our guilt and hate, that accepts the accusations that shower down; the disbelief that veils God again when he has revealed himself; all the scorn and contempt that nails down his incomprehensible movement of self-abasement- all this absolute love accepts in order to excuse his creature before himself and before the world. It is too much of a good thing; nothing in the world can justify a metaphysic of that order, and not therefore the sign called 'Jesus of Nazareth', isolated, so hard to decipher, so inadequately supported by history. To erect so magnificent a structure on such flimsy foundations is to go beyond the bounds of reason. (Hans Urs von Balthasar)

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” (C.S. Lewis)



            Who doesn’t like a happy ending?  I suspect most playwrights and screenwriters know that, however much tragedy their stories contain, the final scenes best conclude on an upbeat rather than tragic note.  The New Testament has a similar script, believe it or not.  It’s called the Book of Revelation replete with epic battles between the forces of good and evil, endless violence and, of course, the promise of a final triumph of the heroic over the villainous.  I have begun to think of Revelation as one grand opera with even more interesting characters than Mozart or Wagner could ever create – not to mention Hollywood.

            Of course,the Bible has many prior installments leading up to the climactic grand finale in the Book of Revelation.  The story begins in Eden, moves to Ur of the Chaldeans where Abraham and Sarah lived, then to Egypt, on to the Promised Land, interrupted by the Babylonian Exile, resumed under Ezra and Nehemiah, rescued once more by the Maccabees, until the sequel starring the Christ and his followers makes its appearance in a yet-to-be-finished series of spin-offs featuring their continuing adventures.  And yes, there are plenty of heroes and villains to keep the plot moving -- mostly via an infinity of wars and persecutions.

            So yes, Revelation makes one thing pretty clear: the future is not pretty, at least not this side of the curtain before it falls on the Final Act.  And though biblical literalists like to map out a precise chronology of the future based on their fantastic reading of the Bible’s last book – something that has been going on for a long time – I fear that the Last Days will be truly apocalyptic.  And without falling into the fundamentalist trap so popular these days, it does seem to me that the prospects of nuclear annihilation, impending environmental collapse, and the specter of another pandemic all make such scenarios quite plausible as human history rushes to its Endgame.

            One thing, however, is clear: the followers of Jesus, the Lamb of the Apocalypse, will share in the struggle to the point of shedding their own blood mingled with his.  Pope Francis is canonizing some of them today including

Blessed Titus Brandsma who was born in Oegeklooster, Netherlands, in 1881 and entered the Carmelites in 1898. Ordained in 1905, he was sent to Rome for further studies and, while there, became a correspondent for several Dutch newspapers and magazines. When he returned home, he founded the magazine Karmelrozen and, in 1935, was named chaplain to the Dutch Catholic journalists’ association. During the Second World War, he was arrested and sent to Dachau for treason after defending Jews and encouraging Catholic newspapers not to print Nazi propaganda. He was killed with a lethal injection in 1942 at the age of 61 and cremated at the camp. (Congregation for Saints’ Causes)

            St. Titus serves to remind us all how, “Believers must bear witness in their lives and in their blood, thus fully incarnating their faith as they pit it against utter, satanic dis-incarnation” (Hans Urs von Balthasar.) 

            Christians, of course, realized this from the moment the Cross began to extend its reach into Palestine and beyond.  From the stoning of St. Stephen to Nero’s Circus to Hitler’s death camps to today’s terrorists willing to kill the infidel, the witness of the church’s martyrs continues apace.  Indeed, the struggle “commenced in heaven at the beginning of time, and continues now on earth, where all the evil done by man represent so many episodes in this immeasurable drama of infinite love on the one side, and of malice incomprehensible on the other” (Ildefonso Schuster).

            And while peacemaking and environmental activism may well be the most urgent form of witness as our own dystopian future unfolds, the new commandment, to love one another (G) will always be the church’s true weapon of choice.  From the moment the nascent church opened the door of faith to the Gentiles (I), beginning at Antioch, something new was born in the world: a movement that would break down walls of hostility, eliminating the borders that separated Jew from Gentile, slave from free, male from female  Such love, far from being some mushy feelgood thing, always means the hard work of embracing the “other” -- despite the numerous failures that mar the church’s history:

We should not] underestimate how extraordinary the religious ethos of the earliest Christians was with regard to social order, or fail to give them credit for the attempts they did make to erase the distinctions in social dignity that separated persons of different rank from one another, but that they believed Christ had abolished…. [A] profound revision of the moral and conceptual categories by which human beings understand themselves and one another and their places within the world…took root and grew principally in consciences rather than in political arrangements…. [T]he new world being     brought into being in the gospels is a world in which the grand cosmic architecture of prerogative and power has been superseded by a new and positively “anarchic” order: one in which the glory of God can reveal itself in a crucified slave, and in which,  therefore, we are forced to see the face of God in the forsaken of the world…. In him, we are afforded a vision of humanity in its widest and deepest scope, one in which the full    nobility and mystery and beauty of the human countenance—the human person— wholly resides in each unique instance of our common nature. (David Bentley Hart, “Human Dignity Was a Rarity Before Christianity”)

            So even if it is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God (I), John the Seer could still say with confidence, he saw a new heaven and a new earth.  The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, [where God] will wipe every tear from [our] eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away (II).  Something to remember hereat the wedding feast of the Lamb who was slain, yet lives, and whose Blood dyes our baptismal garment, giving us a glimpse of what lies behind the scenes, as we await the last line of the drama, "Behold, I make all things new." (II)

Intercessions (cf. Archdiocese of Adelaide and Msgr. Joseph Masiello)

For Christians who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus, that the experience of Paul and Barnabas and the prayer of the Church today will put new heart in them.

May all who bear his name love the commandments of Christ and live them in the spirit of faith and trust.

That this community may be known as disciples of Jesus by our love, one for another. 

May every Christian, grafted onto Christ the true Vine, grow in his life, so that each one may show justice and mercy to others.

That those whose hearts are troubled or afraid may come to know that lasting peace which is the gift of the risen Jesus.

That all who live with the anguish and fear of war, especially in Ukraine, and our service men and women, may soon know a Sabbath of healing and a springtime of peace.

That the seriously ill may be gifted with the consolation of love and the healing touch of our God.

That those mourning loved ones may be lifted up in heart and spirit by Easter’s promise of life; and that all family members and friends who have been called to the new and eternal Jerusalem may rejoice forever with our God in that holy city where death is no more.

We behold your glory, O God,
in the love shown by your Son,
lifted up on the cross
and exalted on high.
Increase our love for one another,
that both in name and in truth
we may be disciples of the risen Lord Jesus
and so reflect by our lives
the glory that is yours.
Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Motet (Thomas Tallis)


A new commandment give I unto you, saith the Lord,
that ye love together, as I have loved you,
that e'en so ye love one another.
By this shall ev'ry man know that ye are my disciples,
if ye have love one to another.

Communion Antiphon


Closing Anthem (Edgar Bainton)


And I saw a new heaven and a new earth :

for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away;

and there was no more sea.

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,

coming down from God out of heaven,

prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a great voice out of heaven,

saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men,

and he will dwell with them and they shall be his people,

and God himself shall be with them and be their God.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;

and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying,

neither shall there be any more pain,

for the former things are passed away.