Fourth Sunday of Easter (A)
April 30, 2023
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,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (RM)

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people;
Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who
calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with
you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever
and ever. Amen. (BCP)

God of all power,
you called from death our Lord Jesus,
the great shepherd of the sheep.
Send us as shepherds to rescue the lost,
to heal the injured,
and to feed one another
with knowledge and understanding;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen. (BCW)

First Reading Acts 2:14, 36-41

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven,
   raised his voice, and proclaimed:
“Let the whole house of Israel know for certain
   that God has made both Lord and Christ,
   this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart,
   and they asked Peter and the other apostles,
“What are we to do, my brothers?”
Peter said to them,
   “Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
   in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins;
   and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise is made to you and to your children
   and to all those far off,
   whomever the Lord our God will call.”
He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them,
   “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Those who accepted his message were baptized,
   and about three thousand persons were added that day.

Responsorial Psalm

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.

He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side.
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.  

Second Reading 1 Peter 2:20-25

If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good,
   this is a grace before God.
For to this you have been called,
   because Christ also suffered for you,
   leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.
He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.

When he was insulted, he returned no insult;
   when he suffered, he did not threaten;
   instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly.
He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross,
   so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness.
By his wounds you have been healed.
For you had gone astray like sheep,
   but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls. 

Verse before the Gospel


Gospel John 10:1-10

Jesus said:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
   whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
   but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
   as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
   he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
   because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
   they will run away from him,
   because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
   the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
   I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
   but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
   and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
   I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

Reflection Questions
How do you seek to be saved “from this crooked generation?”  
What challenges do you face following “in Christ’s steps” and after “his example?”
What “voices of strangers” do you sometimes confuse with those of the Good Shepherd?

Catena Nova

In our sickness we need a saviour, in our wanderings a guide, in our blindness someone to show us the light, in our thirst the fountain of living water which quenches forever the thirst of those who drink from it. We dead people need life, we sheep need a shepherd, we children need a teacher, the whole world needs Jesus! If we would understand the profound wisdom of the most holy shepherd and teacher, the ruler of the universe and the Word of the Father, when using an allegory he calls himself the shepherd of the sheep, we can do so for he is also the teacher of little ones….How bountiful the giver who for our sake gives his most precious possession, his own life! He is a real benefactor and friend, who desired to be our brother when he might have been our Lord, and who in his goodness even went so far as to die for us! (St. Clement of Alexandria)

Where are you pasturing your flock, O good Shepherd, who carry the whole flock on your shoulders? (For the whole of human nature is one sheep and you have lifted it onto your shoulders). Show me the place of peace, lead me to the good grass that will nourish me, call me by name so that I, your sheep, hear your voice, and by your speech give me eternal life. Answer me, you whom my soul loves. I give you the name ‘you whom my soul loves’ because your name is above every name and above all understanding and there is no rational nature that can utter it or comprehend it. Therefore your name, by which your goodness is known, is simply the love my soul has for you. … A greater love cannot be imagined, than exchanging your life for my salvation. Show me then (my soul says) where you pasture your flock, so that I can find that saving pasture too, and fill myself with the food of heaven without which no one can come to eternal life, and run to the spring and fill myself with the drink of God. (St. Gregory of Nyssa).

If anyone enters the sheepfold through me he shall be saved; he shall go freely in and out and shall find good pasture. He will enter into a life of faith; from faith he will go out to vision, from belief to contemplation, and will graze in the good pastures of everlasting life. So our Lord’s sheep will finally reach their grazing ground where all who follow him in simplicity of heart will feed on the green pastures of eternity. These pastures are the spiritual joys of heaven. There the elect look upon the face of God with unclouded vision and feast at the banquet of life for ever more. Beloved, let us set out for these pastures where we shall keep joyful festival with so many of our fellow citizens. May the thought of their happiness urge us on! Let us stir up our hearts, rekindle our faith, and long eagerly for what heaven has in store for us. To love thus is to be already on our way. No matter what obstacles we encounter, we must not allow them to turn us aside from the joy of that heavenly feast. Anyone who is determined to reach his destination is not deterred by the roughness of the road that leads to it. Nor must we allow the charm of success to seduce us, or we shall be like a foolish traveler who is so distracted by the pleasant meadows through which he is passing that he forgets where he is going (St. Gregory the Great).

Christ said that the shepherd enters through the gate and that he is himself the gate as well as the shepherd. Then it is necessary that he enter through himself. By so doing, he reveals himself, and through himself he knows the Father. But we enter through him because through him we find happiness. Take heed: no one else is the gate but Christ. Others reflect his light, but no one else is the true light. (St. Thomas Aquinas).

O gentle gatekeeper!
O humble Lamb!
You are the gardener,
And once you have opened the gate of the heavenly garden,
you offer us the flowers
and the fruits

of the eternal Godhead.  (St. Catherine of Siena)

I have read in the Gospel that the Good Shepherd leaves the faithful ones of His flock in the desert to hasten after the lost sheep. This confidence touches me deeply. You see He is sure of them. How could they stray away? They are prisoners of Love. In like manner does the Beloved Shepherd of our souls deprive us of the sweets of His Presence, to give His consolations to sinners; or if He lead us to Mount Tabor it is but for one brief moment . . . the pasture land is nearly always in the valleys, "it is there that He takes His rest at mid-day." (St. Therese of Lisieux)

Today, too, as in the time of Jesus, many put themselves forward as “shepherds” of our lives; but only the Risen One is the true Shepherd, who gives us life in abundance. I invite everyone to place their trust in the Lord who guides us. But he not only guides us: he accompanies us, he walks with us. Let us listen to his Word with minds and hearts opened, to nourish our faith, enlighten our conscience and follow the teaching of the Gospel.(Pope Francis).


Hearing Voices
     FOX News.  The Archdiocese of Baltimore.  Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.  Silicon Valley Bank.  Recognize a theme here?  All of them involved in some form of corruption with recent stories in the mainstream media — or most of them, at least.   A website published by Syracuse University called "Official Corruption Prosecutions" conducted by the Justice Department with the latest edition being from February of this year.  They were up 12.5% from the previous month.  The lead charges were for "fraud by wire, radio, or television," "bribery of public officials and witnesses" and "theft or bribery in programs receiving Federal funds."  None of it surprising. (Cf.  
So I got to wondering how one might follow Peter's advice to that large crowd in Jerusalem on that first Pentecost after the Resurrection: Save yourselves from this corrupt generation (I).  Who do you think he had in mind?  Roman soldiers on the take?  Temple authorities bribing Pontius Pilate?  Unscrupulous tax collectors?  The oppression of the Herod family?  No doubt all of the above.  And frankly, those things are hard to escape.  As are their counterparts today.  So how shall we go about saving ourselves from it all?
     Well, I know for one thing I'm trying to limit my news consumption.   And not just about the usual suspects.   The recent spate of shootings — triggered by so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws — of people who happened to wander by accident onto someone's property has left me enraged and feeling quite helpless.  Though I can no longer be smug about such things happening in "those States" because one took place in Upstate New York about 4 hours from where I live.  Twenty-year old Kaylin Gillis was shot by Kevin Monahan for accidentally driving up his driveway.   To these stories I could add the endless reports of atrocities coming from Ukraine, the almost daily mass shootings in the United States, the antics of politicians, and social media inciting everything from car thefts to mass mobs descending on city streets.
     How can you be saved from it all, from its toxic effects on mental health, from its driving divisions deeper and deeper between people, from its corroding effects on basic human decency and goodwill?  
As always, you can find the answer in the gospel: Whoever enters through me — the Gate of the sheep — will be saved, Jesus says today (cf. G).  So one might start with the imitation of Christ who left us an example that we should follow in his footsteps — remembering how he was himself a Victim of corruption and collusion between Temple and Empire or, as we would say, Church and State.  And how that someone writing in Peter's name adds: When he was insulted, he returned no insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten; instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly. (II)
     Justice confirmed when the old order was destroyed, a universe cast down was renewed and integrity of life was restored to us in Christ (cf. Easter Preface IV).   Or as Jesus promises those who hear and recognize his voice, those who refuse to follow any voice but his: I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly (G).  So when I succumb to the various siren songs we hear all the time from the media, from politicians, from religious officials, from all the self-serving spin by people with their hands in the till — I sense immediately that my life is diminished.  For exposure to corruption corrupts.  Doesn't it?
     But I also know we can't barricade ourselves behind locked doors like those first disciples did on that first Easter night, trying to keep the wolves at bay.  Peter's Pentecost sermon seven weeks later shows the profound transformation they underwent as they emerged into the open bravely proclaiming the gospel — for most of them at the cost of their lives.  Which is why I think John may have joined the image of the Good Shepherd to that of the Gate.  For while the image of Shepherd projects safety and protection  — guarded from the thief who comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy (cf. G), the image of Gate suggest something more.
     That second image tells us we're meant to go in and go out of the sheepfold.  We can't always remain within its safe precincts.  There's a world out there where, yes, we find pasture, but we could also be at some risk from the wolves who prowl about.  We need to be on guard and sometimes the Shepherd can't protect us.  The history of the martyrs makes this clear in no uncertain terms from Nero's Circus where Peter died to Putin's torture chambers as another power drunk despot fiddles while cities burn.  But for us, the humble flock who prays to reach where the brave Shepherd has gone before (cf. Collect, ) the important thing is to know and recognize the only Voice worth following and leave the Strangers to lure whom they will.  


For the Church: that we may allow Christ to bring forth abundant life within us and guide us in using our gift of life for God’s glory.

For a listening heart: that we, who have been called by name, may hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, and respond confidently to God’s invitations.

For Pope Francis and all pastors: that they may faithfully imitate Christ in accompanying the people of God on their journey and encouraging their growth toward wholeness.

For all Christians: that we who have been called to follow Christ may lift to God those who cause us to suffer and refrain from threatening, insulting, and judging them.

For the grace of discernment: that all who are making major life decisions will open their minds and hearts to God’s movements, be open to the greatest good that can be done, and move forward with trust and confidence in God who loves them.

For healing in mind, body, and spirit: that the wounds of Christ will restore to wholeness all who are ill or suffering.

For all who are suffering from natural disasters: that God will be a shepherd to them, guide them to the assistance that they need, and sustain them as they recover.

For greater care for earth’s resources: that God will help each of us to care for God’s creation and to use earth’s resources prudently and respectfully.

O God,
you never cease to call even those far away,
for it is your will
that all be drawn into one fold.
Attune our ears to the voice of the Good Shepherd,
who leads us always to you,
that we may find under your tender protection
life in all its fullness.
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 Chant


 Offertory Motet (Jean Lheritier)

Surrexit pastor bonus,
qui animam suam posuit
pro ovibus suis,
et pro grege suo
mori dignatus est. Alleluia.

Et enim Pascha nostrum
immolatus est Christus;
itaque epulemur
in azymis sinceritatis
et veritatis. Alleluia.

The good shepherd has arisen,
who laid down his soul
in his sheep,
and for his flock
he deigned to die. Alleluia.

And truly for our Easter offering
Christ was sacrificed;
therefore let us feast
on the unleavened bread of sincerity
and truth. Alleluia.

Communion Antiphon


 Closing Hymn (Cecil Francis Alexander)

He is risen, he is risen!
Tell it out with joyful voice:
he has burst his three days' prison;
let the whole wide earth rejoice:
death is conquered, man is free,
Christ has won the victory.

Come, ye sad and fearful-hearted,
with glad smile and radiant brow!
Lent's long shadows have departed;
Jesus' woes are over now,
and the passion that he bore--
sin and pain can vex no more.

Come, with high and holy hymning,
hail our Lord's triumphant day;
not one darksome cloud is dimming
yonder glorious morning ray,
breaking o'er the purple east,
symbol of our Easter feast.